About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

13 Mar 1997: Maharaj, Mac

POM     Minister, let me first ask you, the last time we talked was in February 1995 and I have been chasing you ever since and you've been doing a successful job - (I'm joking, I know how busy you are and thank you for the time you've taken this morning). At that time you gave the government of national unity a performance rating of five out of ten. Now in March of 1997 what rating would you give the government in terms of performance and delivery?

MM     I think that I would now rate this government at about seven out of ten. Now I realise that to give such a rating, many people listening to it may say that this is crazy. I think it's because unfortunately one the realities is that there is a powerful set of forces in our society and outside, abroad, who have looked at the South African transformation and concluded that it is a miracle and having concluded that it is a miracle they are constantly looking at South Africa from a mindset of miracle and a miracle by its nature is dramatic. The result is they are unable to see the incremental and accumulation, the cumulative effect of the small changes that are going on. Let's take the matter a little further. South Africa remains, in spite of our commitment to non-racialism and non-sexism, a racially divided society. What does it mean when the President stands up and says one million people are now getting water who never had water and had to walk 20kms to collect a pail of water? For the one million it is dramatic but for the white South Africans they shrug it off, so what? because within their living memory the experience of living without water is not a matter that they can even envisage.

POM     Let's just stop for a minute on racial division. One of the things that has struck me, and I've talked to a number of the commissioners at the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, is that in an odd way, at least at this point, the TRC seems to be increasing racial polarisation rather than diminishing it. Among whites that I talk to they are sick and tired of hearing about it, they have tuned out, they look at the De Kocks of the world and see them as psychopaths who should be behind bars. They dissociate themselves completely from the past, they think it's a witch-hunt of sorts. Among blacks I sense increasing anger as they hear more and more atrocities by self-confessed murderers and atrocities carried out with such barbarity and yet they say all these men are going to say - I did these things, I confess to them, now I'm going to walk free, amnesty. And they resent the fact that there is no justice associated with the actions of the perpetrators. Maybe the reactions of the Hani family and the Biko family might be good examples of the kind of black anger that I'm talking about.

MM     You are raising several issues but let's keep to the relevance of this issue from the point of view of the question that I was answering. Yes, what is happening in the TRC, the responses to what is coming out of the TRC, is very interesting from the point of view of the nature of our society. What I was saying is that even that shows that those who benefited from the apartheid system either directly or indirectly regrettably some of their leading opinion makers continue to propagate the view amongst them that these things should not be brought out now, it's enough, forget them. That means to say that they don't want to locate themselves within the broader South African experience. A magistrate, white, would grant a killer in the taxi industry who has shot three or four black passengers at a taxi rank, would grant such a person R3000 bail. Why? The law allows that magistrate to use his or her discretion but because the magistrate comes from a section of our community where such deaths do not occur it's not a problem for him. But if somebody is brought into that court who is a vehicle hijacker, because vehicle hijacking takes place in the white suburbs and there are many whites who have lost their loved ones, that hijacker will not get bail. Because it is within the experience of the magistrate within his community this is an issue and they can refer to somebody who has lost a loved one. But when the taxi killers kill they can't refer to anybody who they know as a social friend or as a relative who has been killed that way and therefore the magnitude of the problem when exercising their discretion to grant bail or not to grant bail and how much bail, the whole problem disappears from being the magistrate, the upholder of justice and part of the protector of society, to a magistrate to say I'm administering justice but this is fine, why do you interfere with this person's right to be free? Sorry, I think that R3000 bail is fine. He is going to stand trial, he says he will stand trial. This is very important.

     The South Africans must confront this reality. It's hard to confront it because if you sense that I, Mac, am raising it as a black person you being a white South African would think I am doing it in order to personally pillory you. I'm not doing it for that. Some may do it from that point of view but even if a black does that can my white compatriot not understand that the black who is raising it with such venom is raising it because embedded in that form of raising it is a cry of anguish and pain? It shouldn't become impossible to discuss it but even through the TRC the reaction amongst whites, which is fed by the opinion makers who create them, channel that opinion, which says enough, this we didn't know about, they didn't know about it. How much did they not know?

     What happens if I show them that 700 private firms, minimum, were sponsored by the Defence Department in funds and equipment brought from abroad, these companies were producing normal items of business but they were also then asked to produce a component for the arms industry? That money which was taxpayers' money has been left with them as a gift. That gift doesn't affect the family and just the shareholders of that company but it also enabled that system of privilege to go on. There wasn't a single black company that got that money, it was all companies that are essentially white companies. That money is filtering through as part of the privileges. What happens if I said today, shut down every company that got that and get it back? Whites are going to cry.

     Again there's a reluctance, I'm not blaming the ordinary white but I am saying that the reaction of serious opinion makers amongst the whites in South Africa is a problem because they are asking for the miracle to now translate into a form of miracle where attitudes would change in a miraculous way too whereas the material conditions of life go on as they are. When we say that now children up to the age of six can get free medical treatment at a hospital, the white shrugs his shoulder, so what? Why does he shrug his shoulder? It's because his experience is they live under a medical aid system so white children from day one have been receiving medical treatment. Yes through medical aid they squeal about how much they have to pay but the treatment is assumed to happen. They don't know that for blacks just to be able to say that your child at the age of five you can take this child to a hospital and it will be treated is a very, very major advance in their lives which whites should be applauding but whites are shrugging their shoulders and say, so what.

POM     But this brings me to the question of reconciliation. It seems to me that everything you say is so accurate, like the National Party for example in its submissions to the TRC have virtually taken no responsibility for anything in the past, and that's still their attitude, it doesn't seem to have changed very much and their senior opinion makers still say, well there were the awful deeds of Eugene de Kock and the like but by and large we were not trying to erase the entire black population. There is no acknowledgement of apartheid as being a crime against humanity, there's no acknowledgement of the evilness of it. In at atmosphere like that where they have kind of written it off, where the Freedom Front has written it off, where the IFP has written it off, how good an instrument of reconciliation can it become? How do you start changing white attitudes?

MM     We succeeded in bringing a negotiated political change which gave us a proper democracy in spite of the fact that the NP, which was the government of the day, wanted a solution which was going to be called democracy but was in content not going to be democracy. There we succeeded, it was called a miracle. We have built a platform and a vision for the country when the NP was in the government of national unity, but it goes beyond the NP, it encompasses every party in this parliament, including the Freedom Front, Inkatha Freedom Party, the PAC, the African Christian Democratic Party, all share this vision. None of them can stand up and say we are opposed to this vision and the vision is to reconstruct and develop our society in the context of nation building and so reconciliation is an essential component of that process. But the other leg of it is reconstruction and development of our society so that the overwhelming majority who have been jobless and homeless are now clothed and given homes. It is these two elements to nation building.

     Now that vision nobody is challenging. What happens is how to implement that vision, there is a lot of carping, and it is unfortunately true that the NP, which was a partner in the political transition, however unwillingly, has stepped out of the government of national unity and has refused to move as far as you are suggesting that they should have moved, to simply make the statement categorically to say whatever our intentions when we constructed the concept of apartheid, the realitynow looking back is that we constructed something which was inherently evil, no amount of good intention could have made it good. That, FW refuses to do and by refusing to cross that line he exacerbates this white attitude which says I don't want hear any more about what is coming out and what Eugene de Kock did, that was Eugene de Kock acting on his own.

     No, how many white families if they were sitting here with me today and if I asked them: did your son serve in the Caprivi strip, did your son serve in Angola, did your son serve in Namibia, would end up by saying reluctantly, yes? And I say to them, are you sure that your son wasn't in a pub at Grootfontein Military Base in Namibia? Has your son ever admitted that? And then I would ask, has your son ever been in such a pub with Eugene de Kock where they were talking about SWAPO people and Namibians as black bastards and boasting about how they were killing them? Has that left your son untainted? In attitude I mean, I don't mean walking around with a sense of sin but has it not shaped the psyche and attitude of your son? And they would be in difficulty because they have started off by forcing me to prove to them that there is an indirect relationship which is material to their life and because I am proving it to them it looks like it's become a personal battle and that's because De Klerk refused to give the right leadership. Had he given that leadership then it would be easier for our message to get through, so he has done great harm. But I don't believe that that means that reconciliation won't succeed because I am saying that the forces who shaped this shape are larger than the political party, the National Party, are larger than the forces that are grouped around the old establishment which was primarily centred as far as centres of power within the white community.

POM     Do you still think that elements of the third force are attempting to undermine reconstruction and development?

MM     It's becoming a question as to whether those elements, which are clearly there in society, dispersed in various ways, whether their capacity to maintain lines of communication were there between each other and give them some cohesion, or something that was planned and put in place in that way, the dispersal. It has become a question-mark that one has to put. Is this so? But the elements are there. It is only now that on the train violence that hit this country in 1990 evidence has come out that, yes, the train violence was also engineered by the state forces. Our definition of the third force as a force that was sponsored by the state that contained people who were within state employ as well as people who did not appear nominally to be in state employ but as a separate force, stands. And today the train violence shows that enemy forces were involved directly in the violence. Now it is said they actually had a place where they would group, they were part of the Vlakplaas unit and they would go out and shoot on the trains and then get away and hide away and it appeared to be black on black violence. We are still coming to the taxis, that I know because I have repeatedly said that I was arrested on 25 July 1990, General Basie Smit on 26th July morning saw me at Sandton Police Station and said to me, "We have got you by the short and curlies, the violence that is going to hit this country is going to be something you've never seen before." And when I came out of detention certainly it was verified that a wave of violence had hit this country, August, September, October, and went on wave after wave, hostels, trains, you name it.

POM     I remember, I was here. And he actually boasted about that to you?

MM     He boasted about it before it happened, before it happened, because he believed that this preparation that they were making, they were waiting for the moment when politically they could unleash it so that it would look convincingly black on black and it would push the ANC onto the defensive and in a weak position in the negotiation process. This is the reason why the amnesty issue today is becoming a hot issue within the NP. They are quarrelling, at the beginning, at the start of the process the ANC raised the question of amnesty for everybody. How do we start talking, it said, how do we come here into the country from exile for negotiations? Do we rely on your goodwill that you won't arrest us? Yes up to a point you could rely because you will be telling the South African government then arrest the people who had been sent from Lusaka to meet at Groote Schuur. For a continuing basis of interaction how do you approach it? And we suggested an amnesty on the basis that we had been involved in a war, however we each perceived a war. The Nats refused it.

POM     So you proposed an amnesty for everybody, across the board?

MM     Everybody, across the board. At that time it could have happened and our people may have accepted it at that time because of the general trust that at last and rapidly we are going to have a peaceful solution. But the government of the day refused it because they wanted to use the amnesty process as an instrument also to beat down the ANC. The result is that we had to go through long procedures, apply, quarrel about details, get in measly bits and dribs and drabs, and people would still get arrested. I got arrested even though I had an indemnity and they said to President Mandela, "No, we've got charges of murder against him." They never charged me for murder. They charged me for all sorts of things but not for murder and then they had to give me indemnity. My bail was larger than the bail than even Wouter Basson, who is being charged for manufacturing Mandrax and Ecstasy and the chemical warfare engineer of this country, biological warfare, the bail that has been imposed on him. My bail was R180,000, his today is a laughable figure as against R180,000. So I am saying that that amnesty issue, the regime had decided don't grant amnesty across the board, we are going to give it selectively, we are going to use it as an instrument to keep the ANC divided and we are going to then use this as an instrument to play forces. That is why the only people who were granted - indemnities were supposed to be for specific acts and had to be published, so-and-so and so-and-so, and even up to the Record of Understanding and beyond we had to keep negotiating, now release this one, now release that one, now that that trial going on there, please stop the trial.

POM     So in the end the NP screwed itself?

MM     Oh yes because it was so narrowly focused and I can understand it today because whilst they said that they were representing the country the reality was that they could not represent anybody more than the whites, but the reality was even narrower than that. While they claimed that they represented the whites they actually when push came to shove were representing only their own particular interests as politicians and civil servants. You go and look at the interim constitution. Their biggest fight and their last ditch fight was guaranteeing the civil servants their jobs. Number two, make sure that the pensions for them as politicians, inflated pensions, could not be tampered with by the new parliament.

POM     Now Patti Waldmeir in her new book which is receiving a lot of attention argues a couple of things, she calls it a study in the psychology of capitulation, but she argues that in the end at the Record of Understanding at the time of that meeting that the NP, that the balance of power had so swung in favour of the ANC that the NP was desperate to get back to the negotiating table at practically any cost that they caved in to just about every demand of the ANC and that at that point you knew you had them on the ropes. She quotes a particular incident of President Mandela ringing De Klerk and demanding the release of Robert McBride and then the fencing in of hostels and you kicking him under the table and saying, "You're going too bloody far I think, you may derail the whole process." Was it as simple as that, that they simply in the end caved in?

MM     I wouldn't like us as individuals or an organisation to take too much credit because the reality is that by that moment the alignment of forces had been changing both internally and externally. Externally there had been pressure before we sat at the table and before Mandela was released, there had been pressure building from the western powers on the ANC to negotiate and yet at the same time many western powers had now gone the route of imposing some form of isolation and sanctions against apartheid South Africa. So we had favourable and unfavourable developments from the ANC perspective. By the time of the Record of Understanding, from the moment of the release of Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC and the stance that the ANC was taking and the meetings at Groote Schuur, international opinion had now swung firmly that there should be a negotiated solution and the ANC was emerging as the champion of the negotiated solution. So that international shift continued and what appeared to be a pressure on us which we had to resist in a way when they were saying talk, now became a pressure which we could embrace, so it became a favourable development internationally for us because the impediments that were being placed by the NP regime now became the issue that was against the trend of the international community which was saying talk. The impediments were becoming delays and these impediments were being placed by the white regime.

     Internally there is an element that people talk about the alignment of forces and debate about it but until you see it in the streets you're not prepared to acknowledge which was the balance that had settled down. And internally the balance was also shifting in favour of the negotiation for a democracy. Business began to move to see that it had now reached no growth, now wanted change, and when the argument was democracy business began to say - I'm impatient with all these debates, I just want more stability because there is no growth taking place and that's why I can't make profits and I want a long term future.

     But the majority of the black people had now sensed that this must come to an end, they had taken to the streets so the balance was shifting. But it left in that equation and therefore I would say it's not capitulation but a reflection of the changed balance of forces internally and externally which made it possible to reach the Record of Understanding because it was an unsustainable alliance that was there at Kempton Park pre the Record of Understanding. It was unsustainable because it represented a minority force within the country over the whole social formation and in terms of the way the international community wanted it.Therefore the NP's position as government then over the discussions which culminated in the Record of Understanding was an agreement which brought the negotiating framework in line with the way the process was being aligned. Therefore we, the ANC, were taking positions which were in accord with that reality. The NP was still representing something that was not in accord and was out of line. That is what made it possible.

POM     What I'm getting at is, was it a negotiated Record of Understanding or was it a case of where in the end you more or less presented - ?

MM     It was negotiated except for the cheap tricks that the NP tried to use. I am talking about the amnesty tricks, the similar type of cheap tricks that they used in the detailed issues which became embodied in the Record of Understanding.

POM     The tricks?

MM     Were too well known and could not be sustained by them even for a moment, e.g. for F W de Klerk at the final meeting on the Record of Understanding to say, "Oh yes our teams have been negotiating about what should happen about the violence and the position of the hostels, but I as the President have not read the report therefore we can't embody it today's agreementbut we will put it in later on", and for Mandela to say, "Well OK but when we go out of this meeting I will tell the media that this meeting has been a failure." That is because it was a patent untruth to say that he was not aware of what had been negotiated between our two smaller teams, our technical teams on the questions of hostels. So at lunch time we came together again, the technical level, and point blank we said the same thing which was in the draft, hostels will be fenced. The issue there is not to me just the loaded, emotional word 'capitulation', the real advance was that the NP, the government went into the negotiating process saying who are their allies? And they said this is a multiparty process where we agreed every party, whether legitimate, not legitimate, apartheid creation or not apartheid creation, we said come to the table. And the NP regime said, fantastic, that table is in our favour, because the majority of the parties were created under the Bantustan structures and the tricameral where they tried to co-opt sections of the black communities, so those were the parties. Then there's the National Party and there are the Bantustan parties including Inkatha. So they said we are the majority around this table and we will be able to overwhelm the ANC.

     What they didn't want was that whatever interim arrangement is made we said should lead to a final constitution to be written by the people of South Africa through an elected structure. In the Record of Understanding they had to commit themselves to that. The second thing was that that table that they saw, the forces got split by the Record of Understanding, in particular the alliance between the NP and the IFP got split because of the distrust which was there and is there amongst any band of crooks, even highway robbers, they unite over the robbery but there are constant contradictions between them because each is looking what happens to the spoils so there is a tension there. That tension was there around the table in the alliance that they had put together, an implicit and explicit alliance, and suspicion of each other. The agreement drove a horse and carriage through their ranks and made the suspicion between the IFP and the Nats a pointed one and therefore changed the shape of the table.

POM     Many people have suggested to me, and I don't want to spend too much time on this, that De Klerk could have gotten a better deal at CODESA 2. One person said to me that he snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory. If he had settled at that point, that at one point the ANC negotiators were prepared to accept a 60% majority in parliament regarding matters but Mandela said that no it's got to be 50%. Were these kind of - ?

MM     I think, yes, if it is expressing the view that at certain moment a particular element of the package may have been more restrictive of majority power, yes, as I say even over amnesty, we could have got amnesty for everybody at the beginning of the process. Now is that called beneficial to apartheid? No, it may have been in hindsight beneficial to the whole country that it could have moved from 1990 to a democratic system by 1992 without the heavy price that we paid of all the debts in the violence which were so-called black on black violence. What it would have done for the psyche of this country would have been different. What it would have done for criminality would have been different. What it would have done if FW had followed the pattern of a traditional democracy to say now we are heading for elections, each party and particularly ANC, you are likely to be either the unique victor or a major player, can we have your programme and my civil servants from the establishment will meet your people to prepare to implement your broad policies. It never happened in South Africa. We had to enter the government and start with changing the civil service who hadn't even seen our programme and now start building and implementation. In Britain already the civil servants are charged with interacting with the Labour Party, with the Liberal Party, what's your programme on each aspect, can we develop implementation plans in case you win, in case the other one wins, in case there's a coalition government, in the case of a coalition this is the major party. All that is being prepared so that when the election result is announced today, tomorrow morning -

POM     Smooth transition.

MM     When the new party moves into government seat already implementation programmes are ready within days conforming to that party's political programme. It didn't happen in South Africa. Now I am saying, so yes, in little elements. Let us put it the other way, suppose we had agreed that the changes to the interim constitution needed a 60% majority, what would have been the problem? The ANC sits today with 62%, in 1994. The crucial element was there is going to be an interim constitution and it's going to lead to a final constitution. The question was who is going to write the final constitution. Those percentages were confidence building percentages to take everybody over a barrier and if it needed 60% and the change could have happened in 1992 it would have been good for the country, but if it needs 50% with six more years of pain how can you put it on a scale and say which one would have been better, and would that then be a solution which was more favourable to De Klerk? No, I don't think so because that's just as good as arguing that had De Klerk unilaterally, the day he unbanned the ANC and released Mandela, that day announced that in six months elections would take place, probably bluff the white South African who is going to vote over the age of 18 and supervise the election.

POM     I know you're running out of time and I've got just three questions. One is, why was De Klerk able to cross the first Rubicon and having got to the other side, many people have suggested, and I think we've talked about this before, that he took the white referendum in 1992 as some kind of mandate to take a much tougher and harder line in that he overestimated the cards he had to play? In the end did the ANC simply out-manoeuvre, out-negotiate the NP or was it the best solution that could have been come up with in the circumstances that allowed for the miracle to happen, that they got something, you got something but that it was a negotiated settlement, not a one-way negotiated settlement but a two-way negotiated settlement?

MM     It was a negotiated settlement which favoured all parties in the sense that it created the conditions where all parties could take advantage of it and benefit from it. But it is also a reality that whilst the conditions had arisen many parties failed to take advantage of it, to their long term benefit. In particular the NP and De Klerk I believe failed over the long term because they started off with a strategy that was twin-track, namely negotiate but use state power to try and weaken the ANC. Whereas Mandela's position right from day one was negotiate and those who negotiate are going to all come out better and stronger. He never said I am going to weaken you. He kept on saying, "Mr De Klerk, if we go together and walk together I want you to be stronger, to grow stronger." He actually said so, "And I want the ANC to grow strong because the stronger each of us grow as parties by working together the better for the country." But De Klerk's strategy was, talk but in the end weaken them because we want to dictate the solution. Having decided on the strategy, which looked very nice for his strategists, they couldn't define who are they going to serve? What solution do they want to come out? We had a simple one, a democracy which means that every adult must have the vote and each vote is an equal vote as any other vote. Other things it means we don't know yet, but that right must be there. His was: how can I play the waiting game? But who am I representing? The ANC was about to say we represent everybody's interests. He could not say whose interests he represented because whenever he tried to say I represent all South Africans' interests ... (unintelligible)

POM     This whole question of informants within the ANC, informants who allegedly either occupy high profile positions in the government or are members of the cabinet. One, has this been examined by the NEC and has it reached any conclusions? Two, do you think that this may be part of a counter-revolutionary strategy again put out by elements of the third force to discredit senior members of the ANC, to create divisions within the ANC itself and possibly to destabilise the government? Where does the ANC stand as distinct from saying let the name of all informants be released when it looks at its own government and its high officials and is it adequately satisfied that there were no informants and that there's not a looming crisis within the organisation regarding perhaps senior ministers who were at one time or another paid informants of the government?

MM     Let me answer this one by just making a preparatory statement. You are working on something for publication in years to come?

POM     That's right, in the year 2000.

MM     So I'll make a statement in that context because I wouldn't like what I'm saying now to be used now.

POM     Nothing I say has ever been used, over ten years I've never released a phrase of anything I've heard to anybody because my credibility depends upon the integrity of my word.

MM     Now the ANC has been aware, throughout our years of struggle we knew that the state was seeking from time to time to infiltrate the ANC. Even in the Defiance Campaign in 1953 they brought policemen as witnesses, one of them was working in the ANC offices bringing tea to people. He turns out to be at the trial a witness for the state saying, "I am a police officer, I had been sent to volunteer key services as an ordinary citizen in order to get access to your meetings and your records." The same thing happened in the Treason Trial, state witnesses appeared saying, "I eavesdropped, I joined the ANC but I am a policeman." And in the period of the underground struggle we constantly faced this problem of infiltration from the state and naturally we expected different levels of success at different times. That is precisely why we had to set up a counter-intelligence section during the phase of the underground struggle. Part of its job was to haunt the organisation to counteract the infiltration moves, part of whom were going to serve as provocateurs, not just to provide evidence for court trials but to destroy the ANC. So we have always accepted that this was a strategy and a tactic of the state and that they would succeed here and there and that we had to block it.

     Now I don't believe that any substantial number of people in the leadership of the ANC today have been informers. There have been people who have confessed. Two of them are now deceased but they went to the organisation after our legalisation and they said to certain members in the leadership that "I got sucked in under this and this circumstances and began to work for the apartheid regime. At the beginning I did not know I was working for them but by the time I had passed on so much information that a blackmail manoeuvre was put on me, I became afraid, what do I do? And I continued." But I don't believe that that exists in any significant degree because had it been of a significant degree we wouldn't have come out with the solutions that have come out. We would have been seriously weakened. Now presently what is interesting is different people are saying it, that there are informers in the ANC, in the cabinet, and they start playing the numbers game. One policeman, he was a policeman first, was sent as a policeman to infiltrate the ANC.

POM     Who is this?

MM     Joe Mamasela.

POM     Yes of course.

MM     But he is described even in the media, open the newspaper they will say Ascari. He wasn't an Ascari. An Ascari is a member of the ANC who gets captured, tortured, etc. and turned now to work for the enemy. Mamasela was a policeman, trained as a policeman, sent to infiltrate the ANC in the guise of an ordinary citizen. And most of his actions that took place now, you can see what is coming out in trial after trial, he was operating in the townships as a provocateur, going to young kids and saying, "I'm MK, join MK", then when they agree he then says, "I'll take you out for training", and then he takes them in a kombi, feeds them with liquor and then while they are drunk at an agreed spot he and the rest of the policemen appear on the scene and they kill them. And the excuse is that they were going to train and would come back and be a problem therefore it was better to kill them now. He was a provocateur. White South Africans who want to close their eyes are closing their eyes to this reality, that it's not just 13 innocent kids who decided that they want training and that this man was giving it to the kids, it was 13 kids who were incited by Mamasela to think in terms of becoming MK soldiers and then killed. Nobody is asking the critical question, what game is he playing? Why doesn't he come out openly, go to the Truth Commission and put all this information and say I want amnesty, I did A, B C. He knows he would get amnesty, but come and make a full disclosure. One shot, clean, finish, over. What is he trying to get? Anything more that he could get? Nobody is going to pay him out. We have called his bluff. We say we are interested in the information. Now suddenly everybody says there must be five cabinet ministers, without asking the question, why is it that he is playing this game in this way? Is he part of a larger network? So we have said we want a disclosure, (a) because we are confident we can withstand it, we can handle the problem, (b) we know that it would help us to unearth this network to the extent that it exists.

     So my own view is its not a major problem. It could be designed to undermine confidence in the ANC government so that people begin to perceive the ANC as made up of former informers and therefore again trying to get people to say - I don't trust the ANC. I don't think it will work. It could be that such forces are becoming more desperate to regroup but if they are regrouping out of desperation it means that the conditions are becoming less and less favourable to them and then we would be able to handle the problem. Our strength is going to be - we are saying several things, we are saying if there is anybody in the ANC who is or has been an informer, come forward and tell us so that together we can handle it, after all we are serving in the state structures with people who belong to the former establishment, we are serving in government where we are saying there should be all the parties in the government of national unity. We are also saying let the information be made public, go to the TRC, acknowledge what you have done, apply for your amnesty and explain all the facts but make a full disclosure because if you don't make a full disclosure you're heading for trouble for yourself. And in that way we could handle it.

POM     Your own personal, the belief of the ANC is that this kind of rumour, to call it that, that five senior members of the cabinet it's just pure fabrication intended to undermine you?

MM     Earlier the papers were saying their sources say two members of cabinet. Then they would say minister and a deputy minister. Now suddenly it's five. Maybe tomorrow it will even be a story that there are ten. I look at who is performing hard.If there is an informer in the present cabinet, who is acting as a member of the cabinet not in the interests of the policies the ANC has championed and developed or implementing? Who is operating in a way that suggests that whilst that member of cabinet appears tobe confirming to the policy of the government in fact he's undermining it? Nobody there. A number of our cabinet are making mistakes and doing good things and we are learning from our mistakes but we are operating as a collective entity where there is absolutely no reason to feel any one of them is acting out of a different sort of interest. I don't have inside information but I don't believe that if anybody had such a past that that is what is being talked about.

POM     They wouldn't have withstood your internal scrutiny by your own Intelligence Services?

MM     I would expect they say for instance, Mike Louw has made a statement he wasDeputy Head of NIS (National Intelligence Services) now NIA, he's now retired so he has got no agenda, he's retired on medical grounds but he was the Deputy Head of the National Intelligence Services), and he has made a statement to the media yesterday or the day before yesterday in which he says that in 1994 when Mandela became President Mandela called him in and said to him, "Mike Louw, tell me who in the ANC worked for your people." He said in accounting the President, however he may have felt unhappy about disclosing, it was his duty to disclose and he says he gave the President certain names and he assures the papers that none of them are presently in cabinet although some of them hold certain senior positions but not at the level of cabinet. He says, "I gave the President that report and the President was entitled to that as the President of the country." Mandela took that information, he didn't come and put it before me anywhere, he certainly took that into account and has not acted vindictively towards anybody. That's because he's confident that if he can really find a way to handle the Nats, why can't he find a way to handle those who worked for the Nats. So I don't see it as a major problem.

POM     Thank you very much.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.