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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
18 Sep 2000: Maharaj, Mac
POM OK, Mac, we're looking at the interview of 18 August 1993.
MM We're talking on page 1 and my responses, first of all on paragraph 3 of my first set of responses on the first page, there is a clause there that says, "Contained within it the seeds that would lead to disillusionment amongst our people." I think that the word 'would' should be replaced by the word 'could'. And yes, I am referring to not just black people in the exclusivist sense but I am talking about the broad democratic forces who were aligned against apartheid.
Then the next paragraph is the question that you ask, "Why did they sign the CODESA Declaration? Did they misunderstand the declaration or did they not understand the implications of what they were signing?" I think the brief answer to that is first of all some of the signatories felt secure that the outcome would be what they wanted, so they were preoccupied with that. They did not see the negotiation process as a process in which you would have to address what the other side is thinking. They were more concerned with the outcome that they desired and they saw what the alignment of the parties was, they felt secure and so they did not look at the declaration with that fine comb. When they looked at the declaration after signing they found that, help, this declaration does not pre-determine an outcome and therefore what they thought was assured was not necessarily what was going to happen because in that declaration the idea that the people should be involved in writing the constitution did not spell out how that should happen and the idea that a Constitutional Assembly should be an elected body was anathema and frightening to them. Similarly, what are the implications when the declaration did not say a unitary South Africa but said 'a united South Africa'? Now they thought that the ANC by abandoning the word 'unitary' and using the word 'united' had now opened the door to federalism and confederalism models and therefore the NP/IFP/Bantustan parties which saw their geographical mini states still as strongholds which would be accommodated in a federal model, they found that threatening now because they realised that the word 'united' is an open-ended word. So that was what scared them.
I then move to page 2, the very first paragraph, where you underlined the sentence, "We are seeing the attempts to bring about that situation today, that is the ethnic groupings that apartheid had tried to solidify and use as building blocks for the new South Africa." I said now that there were attempts to bring that ethnic regrouping into focus, into play again. We are talking about August 1993, we are talking about a time when COSAG had been formed and while COSAG was in existence simultaneously Bophuthatswana was participating in the negotiations. The Afrikaner Volksfront was participating but was moving towards COSAG. Then FW de Klerk himself was coming up with the concept of this super Council of Ministers, the troika concept. So at that time when I made that remark I regarded all those as attempts to realign and re-focus on an ethnic base.
The next paragraph you ask, against the statement "Because of the composition of the negotiating process many parties which actually grew up under apartheid are now trying their best to pull back, to reformulate the process in terms of ethnic alignments." And you ask which ones specifically? Buthelezi was wavering but all the ultra-right and the ethnic based who had come together in COSAG were trying to court Buthelezi because they saw him as giving them, in their own minds, a critical mass. But that critical mass rested around Buthelezi and the right wing Generals under the AVF and then of course there's Mangope, there's Oupa Gqozo. Now you then ask about I say that they were entertaining the idea of setting up another forum. "What forum are you referring you?" What I am referring to is that they were mooting the idea at that time, they hadn't come up with a concept of a clear forum, they hadn't even moved to establish it, but if you see the AVF there was concern for union, there was Eugene Terre'Blanche, there was Ferdi Hartzenberg and Ferdi Hartzenberg was more for breaking away from the World Trade Centre process, acquiring a critical mass with Buthelezi, Mangope and Gqozo and going it alone. So that's the forum I mean here.
The next paragraph, I talk about "This disillusionment arises from many sides", and you ask, "Elaborate on this disillusionment". Well the side that I am referring to here obliquely is, and speaking at that time, is that there was a disillusionment going on even amongst the anti-apartheid forces, even within the ANC ranks and even in the alliance led by the ANC because, remember, throughout this process a substantial part of the ANC, the forces behind the ANC, were debating whether negotiations could succeed and they were often coming up with the proposition that it could not. So whilst they bought into the official platform that it's a terrain of struggle, they constantly sought for alternative mechanisms and invariably the alternative mechanisms went towards mass power insurrectionist thinking and that is where in the Communist Party journals you had the debate about the Leipzig Option against the Berlin Wall concept. So that's what I'm referring to. I'm saying it was no easy ride and that the potential for disillusionment was increasing and in August 1993 while I remained optimistic I could not exclude the fact that a growth of this disillusionment could leave the leadership of the ANC detached from the forces that it was commanding and therefore diminish its capacity to deliver on any solution arrived at at the table.
The next paragraph is about this question of trust. Now I don't know why you've underlined it, "That trust can be better seen and better understood as a culminating point in negotiations." I'm not clear why you underlined that.
POM You dealt with that the last time, very comprehensively on that trust is the outcome of a process, it develops during the process rather than existing before the process begins.
MM Yes. Now about the double agenda, the dual strategy of the NP apartheid government, you ask whether this had been thought through before Mandela was released and in this sense was De Klerk in cahoots with his Generals in formulating the dual agenda, was it a carefully co-ordinated strategy? I say, yes it had been thought through. The prime architects of this, where the thinking happened, was in the National Intelligence Service under Niel Barnard and in the Broederbond but the evidence that exists is the NIS document of Niel Barnard. Now I can understand that Niel Barnard once he got into engagement through Kobie Coetsee with Madiba in prison came up with this approach to justify, to rationalise a thinking that had been going on that they cannot ignore the ANC, the pressures are mounting internally and externally for some form of negotiated resolution of this process and so they had to justify it and rationalise it and it may well be that initially it was to persuade Kobie that Kobie was following a strategy which Kobie took to PW Botha. De Klerk comes in later. How much he was aware remains a question mark because we have it that when De Klerk was appointed President he was given a briefing by the security forces and the Intelligence Service about the fact that there were such overtures going on. De Klerk has claimed that he was not briefed. The Intelligence Service claims he was briefed but that they briefed him in a very ambiguous way and when De Klerk found out that they were in touch with the ANC abroad he expressed shock and they were able to refer to their briefing when he became President. What is important then is that nonetheless De Klerk moved with that tide and as he settled down into his presidency clearly at some point he became well aware of that dual strategy. I believe that it is his awareness of the dual strategy that led him to come up with February 2nd because he felt that that dual strategy could work only not by just small manipulations in the background but occupying the limelight on the public stage by a set of bold strokes.
POM When you talk about the NIS document, is that document available?
MM I don't know where it would be in my collection. I think it is available. I wouldn't be surprised if one combed I'll have to try and do a search for you, Padraig.
POM Take your time, just if you could keep it in mind.
MM Yes keep it in mind. I'll make a note here find NIS document. So you say was he in cahoots with his Generals? I think the word 'Generals' is too wide a concept. I would distinguish between Generals but I would say that the agenda was prepared by the NIS and I think that in the briefings each General and grouping of Generals read off what they found convenient for them to read off that dual strategy. OK. That's page 2.
Page 3. First paragraph on page 3 you ask the question that in relation to my detention that they picked up evidence and you want to know from whom or how did it emerge during your detention, etc. I think the answer to that is a set of points. First of all through my detention and the records that they found in the detention of others in my group, what they found was evidence that Madiba was in contact with Oliver Tambo while he was sitting in prison at Victor Verster and that this contact was substantial. Secondly, that the ANC's existence in the country was also substantial and that the ANC inside the country in its illegal formation as well as from Lusaka was in direct contact with the Mass Democratic Movement and COSATU and that was a frightening thought for them. Thirdly, they probably found evidence that the Harare Declaration had been circulated within the country in draft form, including to Madiba, before its finalisation by the National Executive of the ANC in Lusaka. So it meant that there were people in the country, including Madiba, in the loop of that strategy being developed around the Harare Declaration. Then they found in my possession the NEC resolution preparing for the August 6th talks with De Klerk and the resolution very clearly articulated
POM That's August 6th 1990?
MM 1990. That resolution said that we are going to this round of talks, the next round of talks after Groote Schuur, the process is jammed, the release of political prisoners has been manipulated by the regime and there is a great danger that the negotiations as a mechanism are going to stall. Now it therefore decided instead of just interacting with FW De Klerk to get negotiations moving, remember it had taken no formal form yet, Groote Schuur took place in April/May, beginning of May and this is now August, end of July, nothing really is happening, no mechanism has developed for negotiations and the releases are being manipulated and staggered and the indemnities. So the ANC says, we need to do something bold at the August 6th talks that enhances our moral high ground and forces De Klerk to respond in kind. And we said, what do we do? And that is where a number of us said let us go there to unilaterally suspend the armed struggle, he will not be expecting that, he will be thinking that he has got to extract that suspension over hard bargaining. So let's go there, we're authorising you Madiba, you don't go there and just put it on the table, you will decide how you put it on the table but before he pushes you take advantage and say - here, this is what we are doing, we are not wanting to niggle about this one's release and that one's release and that one's indemnity. We are saying just as you made a bold move on February 2nd we are making a bold move to respond which establishes our bona fides in the negotiation process, but it says the staggering that has been going on now requires a response from you. So that knowledge, that resolution, would have concerned him, that look these guys are not looking at just tiny manoeuvres, they are looking at broad strategic manoeuvres and that manoeuvre is going to win them support in the western countries. America and Britain are definitely going to respond and say that's a very good move we support you and the consequence of that is that America and Britain would be saying to FW, you'd better do something to get those talks moving.
The fifth element is that they certainly found the minutes of the underground Communist Party Conference held at Tongaat which concluded on 20 May. They misread those minutes. It was in the public spat over the question of who was the 'Joe' at Tongaat and De Klerk argued it was Joe Slovo. But what frightened them was again a very substantial conference was able to take place with people drawn from all over the country, taking place under the nose of the security forces and strategising about how to move into the open terrain and there looking at how did the ANC occupy that legal space, what are the mechanisms by which it occupies that space and how do we assist the alliance to move forward.
Lastly, they would have found evidence that even after Madiba was released in February he was in regular meetings with me, but not just Madiba. Those regular meetings while I was still underground were meetings made up of Madiba, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Joe Slovo, Alfred Nzo and myself. That would have been very worrying that, hey, this is one face of Madiba moving around in the public arena but here are a group of their top people meeting with Mac inside the country while Mac is illegally here, and they are not meeting on the basis that what is being done at the underground level, outside of the legal eye, is something that Madiba is looking down upon. He is part of it. So it's saying we released a man who is continuing to lead this dual life of a public figure overt and a covert set of operations. That would have been worrying.
Now all those six issues would have arisen from what they captured particularly in Gebhuza's record in Durban.
MM Who is now the Chief of Staff of the Army, Siphwe Nyanda.
MM He was my deputy. So that's in answer to your question in the first two paragraphs. Butin the second paragraph you do raise the question that I refer to dividing the ANC into two wings which could not work out and then you ask, "Would those two wings be the wing on the left and the wing on the centre?" I say no, that distinction of two wings in the ANC is somewhat incorrect, it's too narrow. The regime had constantly been looking at the ANC as breaking apart and it had been searching for the fault lines. It searched for a left/right fault line or left/centre fault line hoping that that could be the division. It searched for a division between nationalist and communist. It searched for a division between youth and veterans and it searched for a division on racial lines between African and Indian. So the regime was constantly looking for where is the fault line around one of these sets of issues and I am saying the history of the way the regime was assessing the ANC shows that because it could not find those fault lines it kept on entertaining the possibility that such a fault line existed and how to exploit that fault line, whichever fault line would fall into its lap as it went on manoeuvring, so it's not a single fault line.
In paragraph 5 of page 3 which begins with "The PAC split" and I say, "But those were the basis on which the ANC could be split", and you ask "Why?" Why could the ANC not be split on the nationalist/communist divide? The history of the ANC shows that communists as individuals were accepted as members of the ANC as far back as the twenties. One of the rifts that opened up was when Josiah Gumede in the late twenties was elected President and he went to the World Anti-Billionist(?) conference sponsored by the Soviet Union. I think 1927. He came back, now Josiah Gumede was the father of Archie Gumede who died recently, head of the Release Mandela campaign, a lawyer in Pietermaritzburg, Durban. Now Josiah Gumede in the course of that meeting he went off and visited the Soviet Union and he returned and he said in a public meeting, "I have seen the future and I have " For this he was forced to step down as President of the ANC for having taken a public position too close to the socialist camp but later on others came in. Josiah Gumede was now a communist but communists began to occupy and were elected into leading positions of the ANC. That went on until in 1949 the Mandela/Tambo/Sisulu group in the Youth Leagues actually went to the 1949 conference of the ANC demanding that communists should not be allowed to hold official positions in the ANC. That debate took place on the Congress floor and the man who opposed the Mandelas was Professor Z K Matthews, by no means a radical and he argued against the Mandelas saying it is the wrong approach, the ANC is the house, is the climate of the people and you must allow people of all shades of opinions in it provided they are united around that common cause.
POM That's funny because his son is Joe Matthews.
MM Yes. It was his father. And he was very moderate, very, very moderate but an academic of very high reputation, a very skilful debater and a very plausible person because he is the architect of the idea of a Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter is not a product of the communists and the radicals in the ANC. He had gone to Ghana, had meetings with Nkrumah and he came back and he said, "Guys, we know what we are against. That's easy, we are mobilising. But there's a weakness in our thinking, if everything we are opposing, what are we for? What do we say to our people that this is what we stand for and shouldn't we carve what we stand for by consulting the people? Let's have a Congress of the People." This is 1952. It's that idea that led to the Freedom Charter. So I am saying, this is the man who opposes the Mandelas and defeats them at the Congress floor. Mandela and Sisulu win out on they get the programme of action adopted, they remove Xuma and they appoint Moroka as the President, elected Moroka, but they failed on the question of expelling the communists. And I am saying it is the conservative element of the ANC that defended the need for the communists to be allowed to be there. So I am saying, that approach would not work in the ANC because it did not depend on being defended by a marginalised or small left wing element. It was being defended by the moderates in the ANC and the communists never had to defend themselves for their position. So Moses Kotane, General Secretary of the Communist Party, was National Treasurer of the ANC. J B Marks, member of the Central Committee was Transvaal President of the ANC and they saw no conflict.
So when you look at that background you realise that that split could not come about, certainly not in that phase. Today the issue still arises but if you look at the statement you will find for different reasons, in my view, but the reality stands that even the Communist Party after it rants and raves says, no, no, the alliance is needed.
POM Sorry, that the Communist Party?
MM After it rants and raves against the ANC in government still says we need the alliance. OK, so that's an explanation for that one.
Now in the same paragraph the question arises about I say, "But at least they, yes the government, hoped that if Nelson was talking to them and agreeing to negotiations and Tambo as leading an all round sort of people's war from the outside, that that difference in viewpoint would result in a cleavage of whether to negotiate or not to negotiate." That's one reading from the regime's side. But I say, "The problem that I am alluding to here is the general proposition that we accept from previous experiences that when leaders of political formations in a conflict begin to negotiate there is always a danger that such leaders can become detached from their followers and become isolated." So one of the things that the NP government would have been working on is that if we can talk to- Madiba is talking to us, we could manipulate this to either detach him from his followers or detach Tambo from his followers and even though there is no real cleavage between negotiations and people's war we will portray it in that way to exacerbate the differences and the dropping away of the following, because the dropping away of the following would lead to insecurity in the leaders' positions.
The next paragraph, line 3 the paragraph starts with, "There was enough evidence to suggest that the tactic would not work because the SA government while it had agreed and was talking to Nelson in prison believing that nothing was coming out of those discussions", and you say "Explain". I think the words 'coming out' are wrong, I think 'nothing was leaking out', instead of 'coming out'. But central point I am making is that the apartheid regime was engaged in these discussions and tightly co-ordinating it under Niel Barnard. The evidence is there now that while Kobie was talking to Madiba, in his team talking to Madiba was Niel Barnard. At the same time while overtures had taken place and they were talking to the ANC in London and Zurich the person who was finally at those talks was Mike Louw, deputy to Niel Barnard. So NIS had clearly been set up under Niel Barnard to have a wing which co-ordinated and knew everything that was going on. They assumed that nothing like that was going on in the ANC. They assumed that what they were talking to Madiba about was secret between them and Madiba, what they are talking to Zuma and Mbeki about was secret, maybe a little bit to OR, but he doesn't know what is happening with Madiba. So they assumed a total lack of co-ordination on the ANC side and that is the point that I'm making in that paragraph.
POM Because they didn't know that the ANC had a loop that was in fact Madiba in jail, the talks abroad with Mike Louw, going around the loop to OR, around the loop back to Madiba, going around the loop to
MM Back to OR.
POM They had no vision of it going around and around and around and they thought they had it all compartmentalised.
MM Compartmentalised. And what they underestimated is the common wavelength on which OR and Madiba worked from and secondly the communications that were going on. Those communications never needed to brief detail like 'our team has met Niel Barnard or Mike Louw'. What was sufficient was to share what the strategy of negotiations was, the dangers when we move into negotiations and OR had spelt it out for Madiba. He had said, "Madiba, yes, the possibility of negotiations has arisen but watch out, they're going to ask us to give up all our weapons of struggle. They will want us to abandon the armed struggle, they will want us to abandon this form of struggle and that form of struggle as a quid pro quo for negotiations to move forward. One thing you must not do, don't yield economic sanctions and international isolation. That weapon you must not give up." Why? Because he felt he was making progress with the western powers on this question and he felt that the impact of sanctions and diplomatic isolation was beginning to manifest itself both on this economy and on the thinking of the NP. So that's that.
Now page 4 right at the top, we go back to trust and you ask the question, "What about the supposed trust that emerged between Cyril and Roelf, the backbone of -." I have a very simple response, backbone that's media hype. I say that's bullshit, it's just media hype. I don't believe that Cyril and Roelf, no matter how much they postured had reached a point where they really trusted each other. I think they would confide certain things to each other but always to make the other one believe that, look, I'm being square with you. And I say that because we never opened up our camps to them and they never opened up their Generals to us.
POM You never opened up your camps?
MM And they never told us how they were managing their Generals, and Roelf would have known because he was one time Deputy Minister of Defence, Head of Intelligence, Minister of Defence and Head of Intelligence, and what I could see is that as the negotiations - by 1993 issues would arise where Niel and Fanie had to go and sell it to the army and the security forces and at times they would be having a rough time and they would indicate that they are sweating.
POM So did the army play, even though it's denied that they did, that they stood back and allowed the negotiating process to go on, did people like Georg Meiring and play a part?
MM No but Kat Liebenberg was leading the discussions at that time.
POM So they knew a lot, they were playing a much heavier role?
MM Yes, and they were raising lots of concerns because the amnesty question was really the question of amnesty for the security forces.
POM In Van Zyl Slabbert's book there was an interesting exchange between himself and FW De Klerk. He said after FW said he wanted to see him he said, "But I don't want to see you before 2 February because I'm going to accelerate the process." Peculiar choice of words for what he did. He was going to accelerate the process, but he says after he met him he said, "Do you know what? You're going to have a problem have you given any consideration to your security forces?" And he says FW said, "No." Van Zyl Slabbert says, "At that point I knew that he didn't really know what were the implications of what he'd gotten into."
MM But he would rely on Niel Barnard saying, "Don't worry about that side. I'm the Intelligence Service, I know the pulse in our own forces." And when it came to covert operations already Niel had established himself in a position where he was beginning to pull all the covert operations, at least at the strategic level, into his hands, not necessarily in the detail level.
I think we're making better progress than last time. Now the next paragraph on page 4, you ask whether De Klerk was an instigator, accessory, accomplice or instrument of the implementation of the dual strategy. I think it's a moving position. I think he starts off he used to be part of the State Security Council and I think this issue sailed over his head because Kobie Coetsee was reporting to PW and was not telling them about the discussions going on with Madiba. I think similarly PW was talking to Niel Barnard about the talks going on abroad with the ANC but they were not reporting it to the State Security Council and if they did they reported it so enigmatically that poor De Klerk didn't even know what was happening. I think that later on when he becomes President he is briefed, but as I said he is briefed in an ambiguous form. So at that point he is becoming an accessory. A little later when he discovers that there are talks and he confronts Niel Barnard and them and they explain that they had briefed him, he becomes an accomplice and therefore becomes an instrument but a little later becomes a critical player. So he moves, his position shifts as he goes down the line.
POM So he becomes a critical player at what point?
MM When he is now briefed and when he begins to apply his mind, not solely on himself but advised and consulting with Niel, not within the State Security Council as a formal structure but now says, "What do I do?" And here he is also receiving advice from his brother Wimpie De Klerk and when he's taking all that into account he is now becoming the manager of this process.
POM Does he, again, buy into the dual process? Does he say good agenda, I like it?
MM It makes sense, makes sense to me. But one shouldn't to anybody in a ruling position. I'm not saying it in an evil way, I'm saying it's a logical way. Even in Kosovo with Britain and the United States bombarding the place they were maintaining their lines quietly of communication with all sorts of people, even within the Milosevic camp because they were constantly looking at how do they isolate Milosevic and for this they had to reach into his ranks as well as hit him from the top and call him a war criminal. But what have they done with this war criminal up to now? The Israelis could lead a raid on Entebbe and rescue passengers from an aircraft loaded with aviation fuel, they can't drop a crack troop of SAS and lift Milosevic out and put him in The Hague and put him on trial? No, there are other Generals of Milosevic who pass through UN checkpoints and who have not been arrested. That's the name of that game.
OK. We then come to paragraph 4 which begins, "But as yet the issue of legitimate process for constitution making", and you have the word after 'therefore raised', you say not a good word, what exactly do you mean? I mean defined and 'therefore defined the scenario'.
POM An elected body who would write the constitution and therefore defined the scenario.Much better.
MM Gave definition to. Then we move from that to the next paragraph where you've got an underlining: "Having tried talking and destabilising he'd now reached a position where he understood that he could only move into the future SA through some understanding and relationship with the ANC." I don't know why you underline it.
POM I'll tell you what I had done there, I had changed the wording - the original wording was ambiguous so I changed it to this and say does it make sense?
MM He'd been outmanoeuvred, so he'd been cornered in a certain sense.Page 5, paragraph 2, the sentence, "Who, it had to be more than one, the government negotiators." Yes, it's a bit difficult to work out who was the most critical player in the government team in this continuing time zone because it also involved inter-governmental rivalry within the cabinet. Clearly, clearly in the mid-eighties while they set out to talk and made overtures to the ANC while they knew that they were under pressure, there was pressure coming from the United States and Britain and Gerrit Viljoen, as Minister of Constitutional Affairs, was also engaging people in the Mass Democratic Movement, the UDF etc., all clandestine. So Gerrit appeared to be while Kobie was doing it with Madiba and playing a foxy game even with PW, there was Gerrit with the authority on constitution making to engage in discussions. But his discussions seemed to be limited to inside the country and Kobie seemed to be limited to Madiba but it is Niel Barnard who seemed to be picking up all sides because remember two people from Constitutional Affairs had been fired, Kobus Jordaan and a chap called Cloete who were staff in Gerrit Viljoen's ministry Kobus Jordaan who ended up member of parliament for the DP in the 1994 elections. They were both staff of Constitutional Affairs and they had gone to Lusaka using Anglo American to meet the ANC. PW found out and came down on Gerrit and Gerrit had to fire these two guys, arguing that they had acted on their own. But they were two who were regarded as bright sparks in Constitutional Affairs. So, again, they were ready to dump any one of their people engaged in these forays because the co-ordinating arm was NIS and the second thing is that the NIS was seeking to gain control of the process and therefore was not prepared to entertain any other government department moving off in a maverick operation in the talks. So I interpret the firing of Kobus Jordaan as something that Niel Barnard wanted because they were not in his control.
POM Just in comparison, having met them and knowing them both and I've interviewed Gerrit Viljoen a number of times you know what's happened to him now?
POM He has Alzheimers. The last time I met him he couldn't it was just to say hello because he couldn't really recall anything at all. He had had a stroke and then developed Alzheimers. But was he, not an intellectual manager, but was he did he have the hardness, toughness, resilience that Barnard had? Was he any match for Barnard or in the end could Barnard have the ruthlessness to walk all over him if he wanted to?
MM I think Barnard had the ruthlessness but at the start of the negotiating process, by the time I came in, it is just before Gerrit has his breakdown and I remember at the very early stages problems arising because at that time CODESA had set up what it called working groups and I saw working groups stuck, totally paralysed and I saw crisis after crisis coming. So I engaged Gerrit in a discussion. I said, "Gerrit, come on, we know the reality. This process will work only if the NP and government could see eye to eye on the need to move this process of negotiation with the ANC. Can we come to that understanding? Stop playing games." We had a very interesting discussion because the upshot of that discussion was, Gerrit was sly, he said, "Give me that undertaking in writing from Mandela that the NP and government on one side and the ANC would arrive at a common position to drive this process as the co-owners of this process. Give me that undertaking." Now I thought that was a very, very shrewd move because he demanded something that could arise later, he wanted it up front and I knew break off the discussions. I had felt him out now, don't proceed any more to discuss with Gerrit on this matter because embedded in this is the danger of discrediting Madiba by revealing. So what you would do is you would alienate Madiba and the ANC from all the other parties sitting around that table and say you see this talk of the ANC that everybody must be involved, it's nonsense, behind the backs of all of you around this table the ANC is prepared to sign a secret deal with the NP. Now I'm saying he was sly, he was shrewd but he was already at that time under intense pressure because about a week later he had his breakdown.
So I am saying when you say, "Who were the government negotiators?" I am saying it's difficult to isolate at that stage. At the early stages there's Kobie Coetsee, there's Gerrit Viljoen with an official position, Roelf as his deputy, but Delport comes in as soon as Gerrit breaks down. But behind the scenes at all times the continuing factor is Niel Barnard. Don't forget Fanie is always in it but he's from Constitutional Development. So you have Niel pulling off people from the different departments but he remains the co-ordinator. But as you move down the line timewise, when Viljoen breaks down Delport comes in. He thinks because he's formally leader of the government delegation he thinks he's the centre of it but the centre of it is still sitting with Niel Barnard. Right? Delport falls, Gerrit falls ill, Delport drives the thing to a crisis, Roelf Meyer emerges as the next Minister of Constitutional Development. A big difference here. Why? Roelf may not be the heavyweight that he is perceived as, he's young, but he has been previously Minister of Defence, he's been moving close to all the inner circles, close to Gerrit.
POM Deputy Minister of Constitutional Affairs, Deputy Minister of Law & Order.
MM So he's been through all those portfolios, his right hand in the negotiating process is Fanie van der Merwe from Constitutional Affairs. Fanie has been all the time with Niel in the talks with Madiba. So Roelf comes in and his strength is he recognises the need to work closely with Fanie and Niel. That wasn't there in the Gerrit time, the need to work closely with Niel. It wasn't there in Delport's time. Delport didn't have a chance to make that right, but it certainly is there under Roelf's time and Roelf has got his independent links with the Generals and got his links everywhere. The one person he hasn't got a close link with is Kobie, so when you talk to Roelf you will find him absolutely scathing about Kobie. So those are some of the players when you ask who were the key government negotiators.
We go to the next paragraph, paragraph 4 which starts, "De Klerk responded to that statement when Nelson made his first trip abroad."
POM That's just my word, I put it in there.
MM OK, no problem.
POM If you see anything making sense just say it makes sense. That means I've just changed a word because another word didn't make sense, or the way it was typed didn't make sense.
MM So you add a comment to that sentence, "De Klerk responded, called on the international community to support the ANC financially", and you put in brackets, "So De Klerk was being positively responsive yet within a year or so he became the devious De Klerk." Well put in that sharp way it's jarring.
POM Sorry, it's jarring?
POM I just put it that way to get
MM Let's get clear that the chemistry between Madiba and De Klerk, if I can just use the word 'chemistry'.One meeting while De Klerk is President, next meeting, "I'm going to release you tomorrow." Problems arise. So far De Klerk is talking, it's the first time he's talking to a black man who is a man in his own right, not a puppet. It's a shock to his system. "Have I calculated correctly who I'm talking to? Because I've assumed I'm doing a huge, generous act and he ought to respond to that generosity. Yes, I may be having different strategies in my mind but I don't expect him to be as devious as I am." And Madiba says, "You're not releasing me tomorrow and you're not flying me to Johannesburg. I want to be released in Cape Town and I want time to prepare for my release." So there's a first jarring but Madiba as soon as he's released describes De Klerk as a man of integrity. This black man, a sort of person I've never met before, how does this square? He doesn't fit a single perception of the man. Madiba in the meantime is working hard to make sure that the relationship is cemented and that statement, "De Klerk is a man of integrity" is part of Madiba's cementing this relationship, really trying to reach into the man. A process of disillusionment starts but Madiba is not prepared to articulate his disillusionment because Madiba has talked and publicly spoken about the need for parties in negotiations to grow stronger so that they can deliver their constituencies. Is De Klerk thinking the same way? And slowly the evidence accumulates that De Klerk is not thinking the same way. De Klerk is thinking of whittling away the strength of the ANC. The issue of violence continues to perturb Madiba, but then there's evidence of this whittling away when Madiba and De Klerk go to the United States. Madiba has now been telling the story that in that first visit to the United States he had to persuade De Klerk to come because De Klerk didn't want to go when he heard there were going to be demonstrations against him. Madiba said, "Come along, I will defend you. I will defend you." So De Klerk goes along and Madiba takes him to most of his meetings before they meet President Clinton. But at one of the meetings they meet the black caucus and black business and of course they relate immediately to Madiba and Madiba talks to them and raises the question of financial support for the ANC openly, but the next day Madiba gets a report from the black caucus to say FW has approached them after that meeting. He approached them independently and alone, saying it's wrong that you give money to the ANC, you've got to give money to the NP too.
POM He didn't say they've got to give money to both parties?
MM He said both.
POM Both, OK.
MM But he says, "It's wrong that you just give support to the ANC. You must support both and therefore you must give money to the NP too." Of course members of the black caucus are shocked by this and they immediately inform Madiba and Madiba says, "What the hell is this man doing? He controls the bloody state. I haven't said don't give money to him, but I'm very clear that there are certain constituencies and sources of money that must be exclusively my sources. I'm not going to share everything with this man like that. He doesn't share his sources with me. He's not giving me what he's getting. He's not giving me what he's taking off from the state." Immediately Madiba drew a line. He said, "FW this is what you've done, well you now go to Clinton on your bloody own. I'm not taking you to Clinton." No public fuss, nothing, so that the process of disillusionment is taking place over violence and it's taking place over this concept of do we want each other to strengthen ourselves or are you, De Klerk, believing that my job becomes strengthening you exclusively because I don't see you strengthening me. When you go and talk to my constituency you tell them, no, you shouldn't give the ANC alone, you should give me too and your argument is treat us both equally. We are not equals here. One has been a fighter against apartheid, the other is a defender of apartheid, so we are enemies but we are also partners in the process, having made that distinction. So I'm saying that arose there. It doesn't arise that, yes, De Klerk was just positively responsive and then within a year he's become devious.
POM I can revise that.
MM It's the disillusionment that takes place. Next paragraph which begins, "In particular, over the deal you were talking about, the NP negotiator, Tertius - ." So here you ask the question, "Who, what are you referring to?" and you've underlined 'working group 2' and you've underlined 'outwitted' and you've gone on to the 'deadlock breaking mechanism' and then you've gone in the next paragraph to "Delport misread Nelson", 'they' who are you referring to? Yes I'm referring to the government/NP. But that whole section there
Let's just start with a few technical points. The very first paragraph, I've referred to it,page 5, paragraph 5, would begin "In particular over the deal." When you ask who and what are you referring to here, it's actually a quotation that needs to come in there, assumed Delport is talking to himself when he says on the second line, "I have driven him", the 'I' is Tertius Delport speaking to himself and he's saying to himself, "I've driven him, that is the ANC and Cyril, to the last minute, to the brink of time. CODESA Plenary is sitting and waiting for us and the ANC will have no option but to buy the deal that we are asking."
POM I have, "I have driven him", but Cyril -.
MM Cyril, and where he's talking about 'we' he's saying the government and 'they' is the ANC. Working Group 2 I think that's what you put there, yes it was the constitutional working group. And now when I read this whole section and I looked at the rest of your markings on it I tried to recall the issue and I'm sorry I haven't had time to go and pull out books and check, your best bet to check this incident is probably Patti Waldmeir's book because the percentage issue was more than a percentage issue. I can't remember the exact clauses, etc., but I think it was an amendment to the constitution, that what would be an interim constitution
POM That's right, for a Bill of Rights and for
MM And the inviolability of the constitutional principles and how can you amend, etc. We had gone in certainly on the Bill of Rights and proposed a 70% or 75% requirement for amendment to the Bill of Rights and we had been moving upwards on amending other parts of the constitution, I think to 662/3% and Delport was demanding higher figures. Now at that stage, what I'm getting at is in the public limelight, in the perception of the media and everybody listening to those debates about figures, they could see that Delport was being unreasonable but on the other hand they were sympathetic to his point, that if you guys agree on a constitution why should you be amending it and using your veto to amend it? And that is when Cyril brought a linkage between that percentage and the deadlock breaking mechanism because he said, "But then what's the mechanism for breaking a deadlock?" So I think you need to look at Patti Waldmeir or Hassen Ebrahim to see the exact issues that were there. But what you will see there and what I'm getting at is that the way Cyril through bringing the deadlock breaking mechanism onto the table and linked to the percentage said, I'll buy your percentage if you buy the deadlock breaking mechanism. Now Delport's position was to up the percentage and leave no deadlock breaking mechanism because then he's got veto. Even with a small percentage if he could drive it, the total percentages to the seventies, he's got away and Cyril by throwing in the deadlock breaking mechanism was marginalising that percentage vote but not marginalising it by attacking the percentage. So with the media and others listening we said, but it's perfectly reasonable that if one has a deadlock there should be a mechanism to break it. This country can't languish in a deadlock.
What it did was to remove the debate from numbers and move the ANC proposal into the eminently reasonable proposal. And that's where Delport got jammed because he was incapable of responding, he was sitting there secure I have driven them to the brink, the plenary is sitting, FW and Madiba are there, the world's cameras are watching and we are sitting upstairs in this constitutional negotiating committee. Everybody is waiting for us. Secondly, everybody is saying why don't you guys resolve your problems, come and report to your principals here. So there's an impatience growing. So, I've driven them to the brink of time, the ANC has no option but to agree with whatever I put on the table. What he didn't allow is that Cyril will come with a different manoeuvre and that Cyril would be prepared now and manoeuvre Delport, everybody is waiting to see is Cyril going to walk out, what he did by putting to Delport the deadlock breaking mechanism, he made Delport walk out and that in the public perception was a big thing who walked out. That's what I'm trying to refer to here in this whole section going on to page 6.
Yes and I agree with your page 6 changing, paragraph 3, the last sentence when you say, "In terms of negotiating strategy" and you are suggesting what real negotiations involved, I think that's a correct, better formulation, what is involved in real negotiations.
Then further down the page, paragraph 5
POM That's just my change of language there again.
MM Changes of language I'm quite happy with. We then move to paragraph 2 from the bottom where you say, "Walter Felgate said to whom? To you?" I'm trying to think of this.
POM Walter Felgate had said.
MM No, I think Walter Felgate said this more than to me, he may not have formulated it in that crude form but he said it in the public arena. I think the rest of the paragraph shows it, that it was the dominant IFP thinking led by Buthelezi that the harder, the more stalling they could do the more violence took place even against whites. They saw themselves as benefiting from that process and then answering their problems. So Mr Felgate's statement was not an isolated thing, it was verifiable in the positions that they were taking and the actions they were taking.
So we come to page 7. What I am saying is that they haven't learnt a lesson. That's the IFP, I agree with you. Then the rest is language words. So we come to paragraph 6. You say, how so? "I am not particularly attached to that explanation, it has a large element of convenience to it because the argument also enhances the moral ground that we hold." How so? Well you see it's back to that deadlock and that 70% and 75%. It was going to be a difficult deal. The ANC had discussed the matter and was prepared to go to two thirds in its strategising. I had been prepared to go to 75% for amendment to the Bill of Rights. That had demonstrated that whilst we were balking at the figures and the figures were not a single percentage point, it was simple majority, two thirds, and here now 75%, and the ANC moved to accept two thirds but in moving towards those limits we were realising that our own forces would be concerned that we were now abandoning the concept of a majority. So that was dangerous ground. When our own people speak to you and say at that stage that it was a good thing it broke down we would not have been able to defend this position, they are speaking from a convenience point of view that how easily they would be able to talk to the masses and say, look, the talks broke down because Delport was stubborn and we were not prepared to sacrifice our principle. The masses understand you very easily. But if the deal had gone through and it was 662/3%, not 70% and 75%, the same people would have to defend it before the masses because it was a position that was discussed not in a small strategising session, it had been discussed now in the Negotiating Forum of the ANC where people would be called from the alliance and people from every region of the ANC would be present, the Regional Secretaries, Regional Chairs, Head of their Constitutional Committees, all there and we had agreed on it. So I am saying it's a convenience argument they are using with you. They are not revealing that there was this widespread consultation on this two thirds and that it had it gone through on two thirds it would have been difficult to explain it but we would have had to explain it.
Now the rest are words, words. Page 8, paragraph 4, "Then I go outside and I take our package and say to our people." Yes, 'our people' here is always in my terms not just black but it's the democratic forces, the anti-apartheid forces. Then at the end of that same paragraph you say I don't get the point. What am I missing? "That's inevitable and allows us in terms of concessions and compromise." You see it's one thing across the table when you are negotiating to say, look, even in a struggle, the trade union leadership sitting with the employers, when it backs off from its demands in order to push the employers offer up it's normal to say, look Mr Employer, we have made a concession here, we've come down. It's time you moved up from where you are so let's compromise. That's around the table. When you go out to your own constituency now and explain to the workers, yes, you talk about the concessions but you more talk about the advance that you have brought to the solution because if you only talk about concession it's looks like you've given in. So I may have put a demand to the union for a five rand an hour increase and the employer started with 40 cents and we agree at 200, and of course around that table I'm saying, look, I've made a hell of a concession to you, I came down from five to two rand and the employer says, look, I've made a hell of a concession to you, I went up from 40 cents to two rand, so let's shake on it. I go out to address the workers at the factory, what do I say? I say, guys we were earning R1-30 an hour, the package we have come out with is an additional two rand an hour. It is more than 100% increase. We tried to push them further along that line but you know and I know that when we agreed to go for five rand we had a sinking feeling that we wouldn't get the five rand so I managed to get two rand extra. I don't say, guys we went there for five rand and I had to back off and back off and come down to two rand. I'm just saying how you explain to them, that's all I'm saying.
Now the next paragraph, it's just words I think. All words, no problem. We then go to page 9 and the second paragraph, "Here in the negotiation process we find the package confronted by the arguments, and I'll put it even crudely that we want a federal state. We have to make a concession but in the course of making concessions - "What concessions do you make? Now you see the ANC started off with the position that SA must be a unitary state.
POM Am I right here in saying that 'we want a federal state'?
MM Yes, we couldn't go there and say that.
POM You couldn't say that?
MM We were saying we want a unitary state but in fact what we were emerging was a form of a federal state. Now again is that the way we're going to present it to our people? We started with unitary and we compromised on a semi-federal. No, no. I think that the way is guys, yes, we wanted a unitary state but behind that unitary state was a fundamental concept that we would not allow our country to be dismantled, it must be a united SA. Secondly, guys, we went in there to win democracy and we realised that democracy is not just at the centre, it's what happens at the grassroots so we wanted strong local government. Thirdly, we realised that it actually enhances governance if we had a layer called provincial government. So we have avoided walking into a classical federal state which would lead to a measure of dismemberment. This is what we've been used it. We've had to flesh out how that democracy would work and in fleshing out we came to nine provinces, we came to a provincial sphere of government and we came to a local government which is also going to be also a meaningful chair of government. Over the provincial we've had big fights and we've talked of concurrent and exclusive powers and, look guys, we said yes you can have exclusive powers over roads provided it's not a national road. So we've enhanced it, we've kept the unity of the economy. So we've said national roads, the arteries over which this economy functions is a national function. Provincial roads, you have exclusive rights. But we have said you can't have customs tariffs that dismember the unity of this country. Yes, we've agreed that you need your own sources of income but you can't make your own sources in such a way that goods moving from Durban port will pay one tariff for KwaZulu-Natal and another tariff for Gauteng and another tariff for Northern Province and the tariff scales are different so that the economy is a disjunct economy. That's how you prevent it, not because it's just an opportunistic thing but because I believe it was a learning process where you have to flesh out. OK?
The rest are words again.
POM "These people."
MM "Who remain completely trapped." I am saying it in a very cautious formulation in August 1993 because I think on all sides of the table there were people who were trapped, who were trapped in their own mindsets.
POM So the 'who' should stay there then?
POM These people who remain completely trapped.
MM Or the statement, these people remain completely trapped. I am saying that there was a category of people on all sides who remain trapped in an old mindset, who always approach the negotiating table to say I am going to get the other side, they must surrender. Whereas negotiations is not about surrender. I think that's the correct antitheses that are put up. Besides the people who were saying 'they must give in' it's saying surrender. The rest is words.
POM "Others will say that we made concessions on the constitution, that there is nothing in the Harare" -I added those words, "There is nothing in the Harare Declaration about agreed constitutional" - that's correct?
MM It was not part of the model.
POM At the end here, "At the time of Boipatong we You were right, yes, we need elections and after the elections we would have an interim government."
MM In fact we got into trouble over that interim government thing. I think Madiba was in Mexico at that stage and the National Executive met. De Klerk now was attacking our concept that the bridging mechanism to take SA to a democratic constitutional order was going to be an interim government. The Harare Declaration spoke of an interim government ruling by decree. That is put together. De Klerk began to attack that as undemocratic. He said, "These people who stand for democracy, look what they want as a bridging mechanism. As long as they are in the government they are happy. They are not concerned with democracy."The heat was on and in the bilateral discussions we were doddering. Working group three which was supposed to look at interim mechanisms was not making progress. We would meet bilaterally, we would think we've got an understanding and when the working group three met with Fanie our people would come and say Fanie is being stubborn. Fanie would be saying the ANC is being stubborn about what's the powers of the interim structures. And FW came from the outside to hammer us. "The ANC wants a government by decree, an unelected government and yet they claim to care for democracy." So we meet at the NEC and some of us put the proposal to spike this guy, spike it by saying that the election will deliver the interim government. The NEC agreed. Madiba was furious. He contacted us from Mexico, "How dare you change that position without consulting me?" He feared that we were going to perpetuate apartheid, NP rule. In the meantime we go in armed with that resolution into a bilateral with government. It was at the airport international lounge when the airport was closed after 11 at night, we used that then. Cyril, Thabo, Joe Slovo, myself, I think possibly Valli and maybe one of two more. On the government side Niel, Roelf, Fanie, can't remember there may have been others too. But we start discussions and we don't say OK, let's talk about what's our concern. Our concern is you're going to manipulate the media; our concern is you're going to run the elections; our concern is that you're going to remain in government until the elections and you're going to manipulate that too and use your state powers. And we started talking around those concrete concerns. So we say, "What's your concern?" They say, "Our concern is without an election you're going to remove us from power." So OK, we had a good discussion now.
POM Without an election we're going to remove you from power?
MM But they said even before the elections we want to remove them from power. Thabo goes to them, he says, "Guys, let's start here. You are the government, now you're scared, you don't want to be removed from government until there's an election. Is that right? Are we agreed? Is that your thinking, your theory? Good. Now, you remain in government but our concern is are the elections going to impartial? You can't run it. Are we agreed on that concern, that the talks are legitimate?" Yes. He says, "Well let's have a body to take charge of the elections. Put the box. Now that body will access resources from you but you will not run it as government. Agreed?" That's all right. "Our next concern, you're going to manipulate the media. Create a box here. This box will ensure that the media do not get manipulated by you. So it has a power to detect it to intervene with you and say stop it. Good. Our next concern is you're going to use security forces, let's put a box here that will be a check on security forces. OK, OK, we've got all these boxes. Now wait a minute, as government you may be abusing your powers, let's put an overall body, the TEC. You and us and all who are sitting here, our job is that if we feel that you are abusing your powers as government it has the power to intervene. So, have we addressed these concerns while you are still in government and in the run-up to the elections? Yes, that looks reasonable. Working group three, here's your mandate. Here are the boxes, draft the legislation that gives the boxes the powers that we have said that they need to be meaningful." That unlocked that process but Madiba was opposed to us abandoning the interim government and when he came and we sat down he was furious and when we said, listen, we were not moving, here is the movement, he said "OK. There you guys, I was very unhappy. You guys mustn't do this to me. If I'm President of the ANC, I'm President of the ANC, I'm not a rubber stamp here."
OK, the rest is straight, go on to page 11, formulations, formulations, until we come to paragraph 2 from the bottom. Yes, it's the Bantustan tricameral structure leaders at the bottom of the page where you say, "Who are they?" All those spawned by apartheid and encouraged to develop by apartheid.
The two question marks you put yes, the ANC, but it's really around this concept that I am saying I am grappling with, that content in negotiations is how can I explain it? I always make the statement that if we were in this room, I think I told you before, if we're in this room and there's a snake in this room I shouldn't close the door and push that snake in a corner, I should allow it an escape hatch and that escape hatch also when we're talking about strengthening each other I must allow you the space when I've extracted concessions from you to go back to your constituency and present it in a way that doesn't belittle you, because if you belittle yourself before your constituency I'll strip you. And that's what I'm trying to deal with.
POM But you're saying that it's a snake here and you have a stick you don't
MM You don't shut that door and put it in the corner there.
POM Put the snake in the corner.
MM Then it's got no escape but to lash at you.
POM You move the snake back and then you use the stick to once you get it out the door.
MM You ask yourself, have I got the weapons to kill this snake without endangering my life. If you haven't got the weapons to kill the snake leave that door open, don't push the snake in that corner, manoeuvre the snake to notice the door. Then you can go out and kill it around the block but here when you were alone and you haven't got the necessary weapons to kill it don't try to, you're looking for trouble. OK?
Page 12. Right at the top, John Mavuso.
POM Correct spelling?
MM No, you've got B, the B should be replaced with a V. The reason why I mentioned this guy, he's a very interesting guy. John Mavuso was a member of the ANC in the fifties and early sixties. Bright, bright, bright spark, member of the Communist Party as well, he won't say it but I know he was a member of the underground Communist Party.
POM You know he was a member of the - ?
MM Underground Communist Party as well and a rising star, articulate, competent. He really collapsed in the 1963/1964 detention. His nerves packed in and by the time I went to Britain we had reason to believe that he had begun to collaborate with the British. That was a period of enormous turmoil. The next thing we found him surfacing as a member of the IFP. knew him in prison and he said "John Mavuso, what's happened to him? He's broken down." Then we heard him emerging in the local council sponsored by the apartheid system, then we heard he became a member of the NP, member of the Transvaal Provincial Council and by the time the negotiations were taking place he's a fully fledged, leading member of the NP. So here was not the normal type of packet and we all had respect for him as a competent thinker. So I am saying amongst the people they picked up were this sort of person whose image, there was nothing to show that he had collapsed in detention and sold out, he didn't give evidence in trials. He just suddenly disappeared from the limelight and then resurfaces a few years later growing up under the apartheid system. So the NP thought that they had bagged a wonderful guy there who is going to erode the ANC constituency. When I was Minister of Transport for the five years John in parliament and in the parliamentary committees on transport never failed to stand up and praise me. He always praised me. We never spoke about the fact that he had been a member of the Communist Party. We did speak as if we knew each other of old.
POM How would the government turn somebody like that?
MM My view is that he broke down in detention, he confessed, they didn't need him as a state witness, they had other state witnesses but then they saw the need in him that when they bolstered him to make money, he went into taxi operations, he went to run taxies, and they say that if they encouraged him that way that he began to make money he would be a useful person to them. Simple as that.
POM Let me ask you, this is a sidebar for me because it's a case I've been involved with because I know the person for ten years and that's Joe Seremane and his pursuit of his brother Timothy.
MM His brother's fate.
POM He's saying that even at this point the ANC have provided him with no evidence that his brother was a traitor, had been trained before he left Mafikeng and crossed the border, that he has received no satisfaction, what the charges were, not how he was tried, not what he was tried for, not what the evidence against him was, not how he was tortured. He says the affidavit from these two other guys, I think one is in the army now, one dead, and that he's left with a feeling of immense bitterness particularly since he knew Chris Hani and Chris Hani had seen the shape his brother was in and he said he had never told him. I've heard a lot about what went on in the camps then, that mistakes were made and some of them got out of control and all kinds of things happened. If there is evidence, that the ANC have evidence, and Timothy, whatever he was called, was in fact wrong, even when Joe was on Robben Island that his younger brother who by at least Joe's account adored him, went right to the police and became an informer, crossed the border, it seems like anti-family, anti-everything.
MM Now I will tell you. This I have never spoken of, I haven't even met Joe Seremane. I knew more cadres by pseudonyms, didn't even know that he was Joe Seremane's brother. But I seem to think it was a guy whose path crossed with mine also. If I recall this would be round about 1981/82, not sure, but I was in charge of the ANC underground, building the underground, and I received word that there were graduates from the Lenin School coming through, had finished their courses and some of them had performed very well. Now I think that the brother was one of them, because I remember it being mentioned that he had been Commander of one of the camps that was started in Angola, etc., before Quatro, one of the initial camps I think, or something like that, some people like Cassius Make who was Assistant Secretary of the Revolutionary Council. So three of them, three guys were offered to me as outstanding graduates of the Lenin School, politically trained, and we were thinking where they would be deployed, army, political section, trade union section, home. So I became very attracted and I wanted one of them in Lesotho and I wanted some of them to prepare them to go home. So I took three of the guys and as far as I recall he was one of them because he was a very tall built chap, I can't remember the pseudonym that he was using then, but I've thought about it and I say this must be Joe Seremane's brother. I accept them at my hideout in Lusaka where I took them through a course of preparations to man structures in Botswana, in Lesotho, in Swaziland and with a view to moving homewards. Three very, very outstanding chaps. Then I got an incident while I was out of Lusaka, I come back and I find, we had one car for our entire department, I find the car smashed. Who smashed it? One of the three. Who allowed them to take the car? They took it on their own. How did they smash it? They got drunk and smashed it. So I took it up as a disciplinary matter with them. In the meantime I got reports to say that they were moving around fairly freely in Lusaka. My place was a hideout and a secret place but I found that they were moving around freely. I seem to recall that later on a woman popped up by the name Margaret, working in the Lusaka markets.
MM I don't remember the surname, just remember the code name. Anyway there was another chap working who was called Oshkosh who was working as our person at the Lusaka Airport. He was the accredited officer to clear us when we were entering into Lusaka and when we were leaving to see that we exited by Lusaka Airport safely.I would be travelling, I would simply say to ANC Head Office I am leaving on a certain, certain date for Maputo, I need a ticket on a certain flight, Oshkosh would be at the airport with my ticket and would tell the Immigration Officers to let this man through. When I arrived with a different name and passport Oshkosh would be there and if he is there he would tell the Immigration Officer to let that one through.
Now the conduct of two out of these three became a problem from the point of view of sheer discipline, drinking, etc., yet they were wonderful in my classes. I say I'm worried, I don't want to send such undisciplined people to the front line states. The next thing is I hear that Oshkosh and this chap have fled to Botswana, presumably because the ANC Intelligence was trapping people, had got some information which it didn't share with me. But I get the news that Oshkosh, and I think his name was Timothy, that Timothy and Oshkosh have fled to Botswana. It wasn't a Revolutionary Council and the matter arose there that these guys have fled, that despite security saying to Lusaka Airport, "Don't let Oshkosh through", Oshkosh didn't even get a ticket. How they got away nobody knows. Our immediate concern was how to get these comrades back to explain.
So we put in place mechanisms, we captured them in Botswana and we flew them back. We flew them back to Lusaka and I got a report from a chap called Peter Dhlamini who was in security that while in Lusaka and having captured Oshkosh in Gaborone, he was captured with a stack of airline tickets under different names and clearly they were connected, they had resources, money and everything. But when I asked what's coming through, have you questioned them? They said, "No, we can't afford to keep them in Lusaka. We are scared that just as they got away, they have access to a network of people that can assist them to get away, we are afraid that they will get away." So the decision was taken that they remove to Angola and Peter who accompanied them said to me some time later that on that flight to Angola, which was Angolan Airlines which was fairly secure from our point of view, on that flight Timothy said to Peter Dhlamini, "I now realise the game is up". Because amongst other things that Timothy was captured with was tape cassettes where he had clandestinely taped my lectures, briefing them about the underground structures and how we should do our work and everything. Now that's not supposed to be taped but he had taped it unknown to me.
They pass off my radar screen because it's only later that one discovers that there were all sorts of tortures going on in camps, but Peter did tell me that Timothy made a confession on the plane. Later on I learnt that they belonged to a group who were trained in a training facility in Bophuthatswana and recruited as schoolboys. I didn't hear anything more because my work very seldom took me to Angola. That's what I know about this. What evidence does the ANC Intelligence have is something that I've never had answers to. Why they have not sat down and explained to Joe Seremane I don't know.
I was part of the people who had to explain to Judge Pius Langa about the killing of his brother Ben Langa. Then Langa was killed in the country by an MK unit who acted on their own but who claimed that they had received information that Ben Langa was an enemy agent. When we heard that Ben Langa was killed I stood aghast because I knew he was connected not with the military wing but with the political wing in the country. Finally I got the story and we decided to clean the slate. The Langa family came to Lusaka and I remember we prepared a meeting with OR present and OR said, "Mac, I want you to meet the family and explain to them how their son was killed." So if you went to Judge Pius Langa he would tell you that I met him face to face and I told him the circumstances and I apologised for death of his brother. And he asked, "What are you doing about the men who did this?" I said we had immediately taken steps to withdraw them from the country but they were military operatives and that they would go through a disciplinary process. But I said to him, "I want to tell you, my own belief is that the enemy had manipulated the information to leak to us, some of our people, the idea that Ben Langa was an enemy agent. They, the enemy, knew that he was not an enemy agent but by leaking that information they enabled some of our cadres to do the killing. So there is the truth as I know it, as we in the ANC know it, I want to explain to you." And we explained this in Lusaka. I remember it was a very painful exercise because meeting Pius Langa and having to tell him this was not an easy thing because we didn't know how he was going to react.
So all I'm saying this to you for is that Chris never sat down and explained to Joe Seremane properly may well be true, may well be, and it may well be that Chris did meet Joe and give him a partial explanation.
POM No he didn't. He said they embraced at the airport but he never mentioned it.
MM With Pius Langa and the family we took the trouble to call them to Lusaka and we took the trouble that the ANC asked me on a one-to-one basis to sit down with Pius - and not the rest of the members of his family, I think his mother had come to sit down with Pius alone and tell him the facts but I know it took a lot, it agonised me to tell him. So I can well understand Chris dodging the question. I'm not excusing it, I can understand Chris, being the nature of the man he was, saying well one day I will sit down and tell him and it never happened.
POM It's an irony too that Chris too went before a tribunal when he was a young guy and was saved from
MM Yes, saved.
POM Saved by one vote or something.
MM And he was not just an ordinary person. He headed the petition attacking the ANC leadership.
Now at the bottom of page 12 there is a question you ask. What made me change my mind about the centre of what I can call counter-revolutionary right wing, I think again Padraig that's a changing conception. You're talking to me in August 1993 and I'm now clear that the negotiating process is going to deliver a result that can take this country forward and therefore my mind is focused on what are the obstacles and in weighing up the obstacles, looking at COSAG, looking at IFP conduct, looking at Mangope, Gqozo, looking at the double agenda of the government to the extent that it is still there, I am very worried about that process of the rescue. So at this stage in my talking to you I am beginning to say that while I can theoretically easily dismiss this option, I have to allow for a worse case scenario so I begin to take them very seriously. Later on, if you look at it, I'm beginning to change my mind because it's an assessment that I'm making and I'm beginning to change my mind and you will see that at some stage I begin to raise the question very, very tersely, I say somewhere, "I don't know where this thing is going to crack. I see the coalescing of this black and white right taking place. I take it seriously but it could crack in Bophuthatswana, it could crack in Ciskei." Maybe Buthelezi would back off and maybe we would be able to divide the white right. So I'm pointing out all those possibilities, and this is August 1993. If you look at subsequent events you will see it's only in the period of January 1994, post-January, that we crack the problem in Bop. And the moment we crack the problem with Mangope over something that arose unplanned but we were able to take advantage of it from the TEC and remove Mangope from power, the pack began to fall because at the next Negotiating Council meeting, Webb, I don't remember his first name, the spokesman for
POM Mike Webb?
MM Mike Webb. He comes to the Negotiating Council, Gqozo is there in Bisho, demands help from the Negotiating Council and we say, "Shock " Zam Titus from the Management Committee, proceed, go and take over the administration of Ciskei. Without planning to overthrow him we had overthrown him, but he made the mistake that he had asked for help. So either the guys will help, we said we want an administration over Gqozo.Well that happened and in the meantime the white Generals, because of the World Trade Centre raid where Eugene Terre'Blanche took over, Constand Viljoen is under pressure. Madiba meets Constand, meets Ferdi Hartzenberg and says, "I know you people are trying to arrest the process and you have the capacity but General, do you want this country to become ashes?" And Constant says, "Madiba, I want to tell you, yes, I'm involved but now that you've talked to me like this I want to tell you I'm not going along that route now any more. I'm going to come into the election process." The next card. The last one that was left was Buthelezi and Buthelezi went down to the last week before the elections before he cracked, came into the election process. But by that time that danger had begun to crack and it began to become less of the danger that I saw it. So in August 1993 making this assessment, it has got to be read in the entire section and fluctuating between one part of me that says theoretically, analytically they cannot ever become a (subversive?) force, but as a practitioner I have to allow that they could become it so that I am not taken by surprise and my mind is fixed on how do we practise unity, it cannot take place around the table when they are all sitting together as a united force. We've got to look outside of that table how to get at it and that involves talking to them bilaterally and when the Bop opportunity arose it took a different form. So that's what I'm assessing there.
POM Can Eugene, I think I may have asked it, can Eugene Terre'Blanche by a kind of Constant Viljoen says he said to Mangope when Mangope asked for help, he said, "You know I will help you but I do not want anybody from the AWB involved."
MM That's Constand's claim. Constand's right hand man was Colonel Jan Breytenbach. Jan Breytenbach is on No. 5 Recce Command of Angola and Namibia, very competent Field Commander. Jan Breytenbach was Constand's immediate man on the ground and Jan Breytenbach was co-operating with the AWB. So it comes back to the conspiracy of the conspirators. I have no reason to say that Constand is telling us a lie but I have no reason to believe that his immediate Lieutenant was adhering to his position.
POM Breytenbach was famous for acting on his own.
MM On his own. But I know that when I landed at Mmabatho that first trip on the Friday after the uprising and I went there with Fanie and General Georg Meiring and Rusty Evans, I know that as we walked from the Ambassador's house to the office we saw a white helicopter hovering, unmarked. I remember Fanie and I stood and looked at this helicopter and said whose helicopter? And we said it's a white one, unmarked. We went into the office, we made phone calls to Pretoria on all sorts of things and when we came back I was telling Fanie I'm very worried what Georg Meiring is doing. Is he doing something behind our backs? And Fanie said, "No, no, he wouldn't dare." By the time we got into the Ambassador's house, residence, I was sitting smoking and Rusty Evans comes to me and he says, "Mac, I want to see you." He takes me outside and he says, "I want to tell you that Constand Viljoen has been meeting Georg Meiring in this same compound. That helicopter landed Constand Viljoen." They had done it, Fanie had reported to Rusty saying, "Mac is smelling a problem here", and they didn't know what I knew but they knew Fanie had said, "Mac is concerned, he's got a great bee in his bonnet what Georg Meiring is doing." And Rusty decided as Foreign Affairs to come and tell me that a meeting was taking place between Georg Meiring and Constand Viljoen. I said to Rusty, "Who else is at that meeting?" He said, "Colonel Jan Breytenbach." OK thank you very much for telling me that.
And that's when I had a bust up with Georg Meiring because I sat there collecting my thoughts, patiently, and Georg Meiring comes into the residence and says, "Right, the helicopter has got to leave, it's already getting dusk, we have no facilities for take-off after dusk. We must leave."I'm not leaving because when I said to Fanie, "You sit here, Rusty you sit here, General sit here and then Thiart, Van der Walt sit, you report here on your meeting with General Constand Viljoen." Meiring says, "I don't have to report to you." I said, "If you don't report to me I'm going to phone Pretoria." So we had a huge bust-up and I said, "I am only flying if you are on the helicopter with me, and number two, your forces are not to go out of this compound to restore Mangope to power." And it came out that he and Constand were planning to fly to Motsuede to see Mangope and I said, "You're not flying. Let's call Pretoria, let's speak to Madiba, let's speak to FW if you can't accept that order." And I said, "Fanie, it's your people's job, tell the gentlemen. They can't take any action." We then flew back to Jo'burg.
POM Did Meiring - ?
MM Yes, I said, "Come with us", I phoned to Pretoria. I had phoned and given a report to Cyril over the phone with Fanie standing there and then Fanie asked to speak to Roelf and I said I'm leaving the room. Fanie said, "No please, you stand here. You've been good enough for me to hear your report, now I want to give my report to Roelf so that you hear and don't have suspicions that I'm playing underhand tricks", and he gave a similar report and then we were told, "Right, tell Georg Meiring, all of you return, take no action yet, return." So we flew back that Friday evening. Saturday morning we met in the Management Committee of the TEC and that is where Cyril and Roelf met privately and decided, as I said, adjourned the meeting of the TEC to Mmabatho. In adjourning the meeting Cyril allowed Fanie and me, without telling the Management Committee, to proceed to Mmabatho to tell Mangope he is out of power. And then when they called me and Fanie, they said, "This is what you do". I said "Is Georg Meiring coming?" And Roelf understood the meaning of that question because I was saying that instruction must apply to Georg Meiring. So he said, "Yes. What we're going to do now is we're also going to bring Pik Botha as Foreign Minister." And I said, "Are their instructions the same, that we proceed as an advance guard to inform Mangope and place him under house arrest?" He said, "Yes", so I said "OK, we go."
So back to Constand Viljoen, that entire scenario persuades me to the view that Constand may well be telling us, and I have no reason to doubt his honesty, but I have no reason to believe that any one of his underlings and immediately below him were adhering to the deal, because they could have stopped. When I landed at the airport at Mmabatho on the Friday the whole section of the airport was under the control of the AWB and when we landed there on the Saturday the problem was the same but they were now in retreat and all the positions that the AWB were fleeing from Jan Breytenbach was trying to shore up because Constand's agenda was clear restore Mangope to power.
MM Now let's have a look. You ask the question on page 14, paragraph 4
POM There's a blank on the tape there you see, Mac, on page 13, there's a blank, the tape went blank.
MM Oh I can't remember.
POM OK, I'll just cross it out then.
MM So page 14, paragraph 4, it's about the KwaZulu Police powers vis-à-vis the national police. Yes, that is true. I can't remember the exact formulation of the law because I went to KZN just about two weeks before the election, before Buthelezi cracked, to lead a raid on a camp, Mhlaba Camp with Fanie. We had found evidence and proof of the location of that camp.
POM Which camp?
MM Mhlaba Camp in the forest in the game reserve in KZN. I had gone to Madiba to say the evidence is now clear, we've got the location of the training camp where the white right were training the KwaZulu forces. Madiba says, "What do we do?" I said "We lead a raid and close up that camp." He says, "How?" I said, "You go to FW, you demand you say you have the information and the location of the camp", and I said, "The exact location I don't have but I know a person who is in detention in a prison in KZN who has the location." So I say, "We will access him but don't tell him that. Tell FW that the condition you are placing is that the General selected to be in charge of the operation of closing that camp must be a General from outside KZN to be jointly selected by you and FW and that his instruction from FW must be to go with me to find the camp and to close that camp down." We sent word, Madiba discussed it, agreed, we agreed on General van der Westhuizen. We flew over, Fanie, the General and myself to KZN. I sent word to my informants to be at Pietermaritzburg Airport and my informant, I told him, he knew who was in detention, I said to him, "You have enough powers", because he was placed in a police monitoring group, "You have enough powers. Is there a policeman who knows the location as well?" He said,"Yes."
We met at the airport and a mistake happened then because at the airport the Generals of KZN were present, army and police. Unknown to me they had been summoned. So with General van der Westhuizen we sit down there and they say now, "Where's the information?" So I said to - Howard Fine was there, "Have you got the prisoner?" He said, "Yes."He called the prisoner in and I said, "We're putting you in the helicopter, can you find the camp?" He said, "Yes." By the time we left, in two helicopters now, the rest of the Generals in KZN knew what we were looking for and they informed the IFP. So as we arrived in the air, these two helicopters, and this chap in one helicopter trying to find the camp, he finally located it from the air. Then the policeman, Police Officer Scholtz, radios to the helicopter in which I am saying he doesn't think it is safe to land. Why now? My helicopter goes off to Josini Base and he will try to land and be in touch with us and he will be looking for reinforcement because from the air we estimated that the camp had about 5000 people in it.
POM This is when now?
MM This is about two to three weeks before the elections. So Fanie and I fly off to Josini Base, that's the army base, and we get a report that as the helicopter tried to land a group of people in that camp came out and began to put rocks to prevent the helicopter from landing, so we asked that helicopter to come back to us. The General came back and we started discussing with the General now what are you doing? And he said that the evidence from the air was that the camp was already being abandoned. So we took steps to call in reinforcements, to set up road blocks, etc. By the time the road blocks were set up we got news that Powell, Philip Powell, had passed through the road block. Philip Powell was in charge of that training camp but they had dispersed and passed through the road blocks and the slippage was by the time we returned to Oribi Airport at about two in the morning there was a leading IFP man lurking in the shadows, two in the morning, atOribi Airport, deserted airport there was a leading member of the IFP, I forget his name, lurking in the shadows of the buildings. So they got away. Philip Powell had been found with a home-made shotgun under the seat of the truck in which he was but we found the evidence, we found that there were about 5000 people. Those 5000 people ended up on the books of the KZN Police and they are the ones that invaded the election booths and kicked out the IEC people and began to run the elections.
POM Just to go back to
MM So Buthelezi too was shaken.
POM He was shaken?
MM Oh yes he was shaken by that raid. He never believed that we would be able to twist FW's arm and lead a raid to close down that camp, you don't build up another camp with facilities to train 5000 people overnight.
POM You don't have 5000 people trained three weeks before an election unless you're going to do something with them.
MM Yes. They were being trained to disrupt the elections.
POM This is what I want to get to, I have to put it crudely, "I think the South African government, because it was pursuing its dual strategy, did a very great disservice to the process last year." That would have been in 1992?
POM "It actually transferred sole control of the police in KZN to the KwaZulu Police. It passed a law where SA Police in KZN, except at the invitation of the Commissioner of Police in KwaZulu, had no jurisdiction in the territory."
MM No jurisdiction, yes. That's putting it very sharply. The law said that the SA Police can only operate in KwaZulu territory at the invitation of the Commissioner of KwaZulu.
POM Now where does Jac Buchner fit into this?
MM Commissioner of Police for KwaZulu/Natal.
POM I've known him for ten years. Now a more charming person you couldn't meet in your life.
MM Isn't that what he's saying about me? Jac Buchner is a butcher, he's a butcher.
POM Because he was in charge of the Security Branch in Pietermaritzburg, right? During the heyday of before he transferred to KZN.
POM The last time I saw him, which is about three years ago, he had left and he's grown his hair down to he was like a hippie.
MM Is that so? I wonder what he's doing now. Those buggers are living comfortably. OK, that's again taken a huge digression and it's brought to memory the Mhlaba Camp raid which clearly you didn't come across in your readings?
POM No I did not. That gets us to the end of Mac, I think we have completed one interview. It's taken us three times longer to go through the interview than to do the interview.
MM That's your problem. OK.
POM Just to finish off my time, tell me I'm going to leave some more stuff with you, but tell me about your I recall you saying the Record of Understanding was probably the most major turning point of all the turning points but there was one thing that intrigued me and it was that as far as I recall you had said that Buthelezi was kept informed of the various proceedings that were going on. It wasn't that negotiations were going on behind his back and he didn't know what was going on there. He did know, he would be informed about what was going on but he wasn't party to the agreement.
MM What was happening was that as we reached the culmination of the channel's discussion on the Record of Understanding several things were playing themselves out. From the ANC side there were people, including Madiba, meeting the Constand Viljoen's and the AVF people.
POM This was all on the side of - ?
MM On the side, from the ANC side. And also the ANC side was meeting IFP and meeting the King. On the government side Roelf Meyer and them were meeting the AVF, were meeting Buthelezi and were meeting the King and not disclosing to each other. That was accepted as their own province of activities but a connection began to emerge where sometimes Roelf would slip up and say, "Ja, ja, but this matter has arisen with the AVF", and we would just not bat an eyelid because that's your business. Now I made that statement in the context that I believe that Roelf and them were still pursuing the idea that although Roelf was not getting on with Buthelezi, that De Klerk was still saying and had people in his ranks still saying we must, must repair our relationship and keep our relationship with the IFP. So make a little bit too wide a statement when I saw - I think he was briefed about the Record of Understanding. No, I think he was informed that talks were going on with the ANC. The content of those talks may not have been clear, it may have been we are having discussions with the ANC to restore the negotiating process, just as we are having discussions with you, the IFP, to restore the negotiating process. That's as far as I think a sober statement would go.
But my reasons for saying 'turning point' are a different set of points. My reasons are that it nailed and clarified the need for an elected Constitutional Assembly to write the final constitution, not the interim one. So the interim became really interim. Number two, it drove a wedge which became a permanent wedge between the NP and the IFP around the question of carrying weapons in public, the hostels, fencing of the hostels, and around the question of the Constitutional Assembly because the IFP did not want that because an elected body, it had no chance. It had realised at this stage that it was not a national player.
POM It also, I may be correct in saying, created a situation where the ANC and the NP were going together to drive the process to its conclusion.
MM The end result of all that was an acknowledgement that the two were driving the process.
POM Was that the end conceptually of the dual strategy at that point?
MM The dual strategy as it manifested itself around the negotiating table, but the dual strategy did not come to an end because elements within the security forces continued that path of undermining the ANC and instigating violence, still under the guise that it is black on black violence. They still gave support to the training. That story that I tell you about Mhlaba Camp tells you that there were Generals in KZN who received this information that we were going to be raiding it and took measures to tip off the IFP to abandon that camp because you don't abandon a 5000 person camp within hours without having the trucks, all those facilities, and passing through the road blocks that we're getting the army to move into from Melmoth to set up and you still pass through those check points and the people manning the road blocks all they did was to search the trucks for weapons and let them through. So that collaboration continued but I can't say it continued on the basis that they could say now we have got a reissued instruction from FW to say keep on the old track, you have my support. It was them doing it on their own. Just as the security force members who came to see me a month before the elections and called me to Pretoria at one o'clock in the morning and showed me the weapons that they had captured from the white right, and I said, "Why are you showing me this?" They said, "So that you can go and tell Madiba that we are prepared to defend the elections and protect the election process. Believe us." And I said, "Why me?" They said, "Because you know us and Madiba doesn't know us but if you go and tell Madiba there's a greater chance that he will believe us when we say that we are going to defend the election process.
POM If one part of the army had attempted a coup, let's say one part of the army had joined with General Viljoen or Jan Breytenbach or whatever, would another part of the army have stepped in and said we are defending the election, we are defending the process, we are subject to the civil authority. Would the Generals that you visited who - ?
MM I think within the Security Branch, that's the police section, there were those cracks already. I think in the army it's difficult to estimate and the real danger in the army was that a number of the top Generals as well as the Commando structure would have gone with Constand Viljoen. That was the real danger. Don't forget, Viljoen was commander of reputation amongst his forces, his Intelligence (what was the name of the General who came from the Intelligence section? It begins with G, he became a Senator for a while in the first parliament) Groenewald, a very shrewd man too, a shrewd man, head of Military Intelligence. He was in charge of providing the resources for the IFP and both material and trainers to train the IFP people in different parts of the country.
POM That leads me to the question, was De Klerk, I put this plain ball in front of him, part of what he had to do too was to play a game that didn't antagonise the military to the point of where they would all turn against him. That constrained him in a certain way.
MM One of the critical issues was that question put by Van Zyl Slabbert after February 2nd to FW, was a question that became a real one and as time went on for him and it was critical for him not to lose the loyalty of the security forces. Not to lose has different meanings, one from unqualified loyalty to one that says we are concerned, we don't agree with you but we won't cross over against you, and some were crossing over against him. So that was a major issue that De Klerk had to manage and to manage that process he relied on Niel Barnard, Roelf Meyer, Fanie.
POM You remember the occasion after the Steyn Commission when he purged 23 Generals or whatever, or 16 Generals, and he was criticised by the ANC for not going far enough, was he in fact going as far as he could possibly go without alienating the entire top brass of the military?
MM It's interesting. When I reflect on it I am not sure that he purged the real culprits. Some of the people on that list who were purged were not necessarily the real bad eggs in the establishment.
POM Some of them have sued him.
MM Yes. For example General Thirion. In my own mind General Thirion was moving with the changes and to axe General Thirion was to axe a person who would have stood with him. And so that whole process began to be manipulated. I don't think General Steyn, and I've met him since then, I don't think he's such a sharp guy, I don't think so. I personally think that in the evidence that he began to collect they did exactly what they did with the Harms Commission, people of extreme right wing views actually gave him information fingering people who were not part of the extreme right wing. So he correctly nabbed some of them and incorrectly included people on that list and that provided a shelter for some of the real bad guys.
POM My question would be, even in that situation could De Klerk go so far but not even if he had rounded up all the suspects, could he have said you're all fired or would that have triggered a backlash within the military itself where they would move from qualified loyalty to saying 'we've crossed over'?
MM The answer to that question lies in how accurate we are in arriving at an assessment of De Klerk for his strengths and his weaknesses. I do not think that De Klerk really emerges as a strategist. He emerges more as a manager of the forces within his party, in the political terrain. His brilliant moves were in the political terrain but as a person who understood the state power structures that he came to inherit as President and as a person who had the ability to strategise a way forward on a sustainable platform, I have my question marks. So, how far could he go? If I am right in my assessment then he went as far as he could go, but if you say that he was also a very, very competent strategist then he could have gone further.
POM The phrase you hear used is that he was a great tactician but a bad strategist.
MM Not a strategist. Tacticians by nature are opportunists, it's in the nature of tactics that on one side you take advantage of an opportunity, on the other side you are able to set up an ambush in the terrain at this point, select it as a point of ambush and carry out operations which drive the enemy forces to move into that trap that you're really setting. But it's a short term track, it's not a manoeuvre on the entire strategic terrain, it's a manoeuvre on a limited terrain and it's a quick win, it's not a long term win. It can lead to a long term win but it need not. So if I'm sitting on terrain that says to me, here's the enemy stronghold, my forces are here, the terrain is such that it lends me to ambush them here, my problem is that if I attack them from here they're going to move that way or that way or that way, they're not going to move towards this thing here. But on the other hand the Generals on the other side are thinking what am I going to do, so if I just attack them from here they will conclude that I am trying to drive them here. So I've got to out-guess them but at the same time I've got to set up a series of skirmishes which confuse them as to which direction I want them go. Make them think that it's a real attack at this point but in such a way that they cannot read that I am leading them to move that way, that when they move that way it looks like their own choice and the best option that they have for their retreat and yet I know that the terrain and my clandestine forces are well ensconced here, that with less men and firepower I can deal with a larger force here while I make it appear that I put all my firepower and all my resources into these skirmishes and that those skirmishes are the real battle that I'm planning so that they believe it and they move in the direction there. I've actually outmanoeuvred them. Looks a brilliant thing. In Vietnam it happened, you know that famous Lotus Flower strategy in that the Vietnamese Generals
POM Called it the Lotus Flower strategy?
MM Yes, it was called the Lotus Flower strategy where having confronted the American forces who were trying to read their manoeuvres, they moved, I think it was Leedoc(?) the Vietnamese General, who came up with the concept of first an infiltration of forces quietly as part of the civilian population into the city to lie low, give no hint but in the meantime would be making overt preparations for an attack on the city so that American Intelligence would pick up that it looks like a build up of enemy forces and would try to interpret it as an attack coming from outside and so they would begin to shore up the perimeters of the city and out past the perimeters to stop them. In the meantime Leedoc's Intelligence would be picking up what the American forces are doing, oh, they are preparing to repulse us, and the moment the forces were now far out on the outer perimeters then Leedoc's instruction would be from within the city, like a lotus flower blossoming. By the time this thing began to take place the forces had thinned out on the perimeter and by the time messages start to come back, there's the fight here, they begin to disrupt their preparations there, then the attack from the outside comes. So they called that a flowering of the lotus flower, get into the middle there quietly, make them feel that the thing is coming from outside and they prepare for the outside and you emerge from the inside, they begin to turn back and then you're outside and inside, trap them.
POM Didn't you use a variation of that in the townships where you'd infiltrate the underground structures so that the security forces could never identify who no-one was wearing a uniform so they couldn't identify who was doing what, you'd simply infiltrate, go underground, come up, disappear.
MM And the key problem that we had to resolve was how do we move in and out of the townships when the townships are ringed with the security forces and road blocks are preventing movement in and out, because if they prevented that movement in and out had you built up enough resources inside that ring to be able to sustain whatever you were doing? But I'm just saying, back to De Klerk. Brilliant as that is, this one, that I've talked about, that's tactical. The Leedoc one was more than tactical because he only used that tactic when it came to the end stage of the game and he needed to capture the big cities because once you unleash that tactic the other side is saying the next time is he doing the same thing? So I think the chief problem arises across political adversaries but classically over military adversaries, is reading the other guy's mind.
POM They say before you go bed at night if you're planning an attack, if you've figured out what you want to do then you're in real trouble. What you should be doing is lying there at night thinking about what's the other guy thinking.
MM Yes, and has he outmanoeuvred me in my thinking? Has he? Maybe he's tumbled onto what I'm planning and what the hell am I going to do then? My men are going to be mowed down. What looks like a trap to me is going to become a trap that we walk into. That is why there is a characteristic in all armed conflicts, wars, the Generals at the top learn to respect each other across the conflict line, there's a huge respect that builds up. No matter what we think of the Nazis there is no book that doesn't say that Rommel wasn't a brilliant strategist. Every British General says that. They say to trap him in North Africa was a game of manoeuvre and outmanoeuvre and manoeuvre and outmanoeuvre each other but always you see that the amount of time that they took in planning was saying, watch out, this is a brilliant guy on the other side. So they had huge respect and in all the armed conflicts you find that huge respect that develops amongst top Generals.
POM It's like master chess players, if they don't go in with total respect for the opponent they've lost the game before they start.
MM Before they start. And yet they will be posturing as if to say he's nothing. That's Mohammed Ali, the boxer, frightens you before you went to the ring. That's showmanship, but deep down you have to respect that opponent boxer. You take him for granted you're finished. So you see all over in conflicts at the end of the thing even in defeat there's a respect. Nobody respected Marshall Goering, he was just a propagandist, not serious stuff, but read about Admiral Donitz, read about Rommel, you see British Generals saying that guy, brilliant.
POM That's why the CIA, everyone picked off the best of the Germans after the war and said you're awful people but you know what, you're brilliant too, join our side.
MM Join our side. And they said that to the scientists, come and develop our atom bomb. All I'm saying is that I think that De Klerk falls in this category, he doesn't fall in the other one. But if you say to me that in your assessment he falls in that other category then was that all he could do to fire the 16 Generals? No, he could have done more because he would have sat down and looked at the matter strategically and developed a viable strategy to handle the problem. Forget what he said in public, that I've done this now, problem solved. No, he would know that the problem is not solved.
POM My time is up. Thank you.
MM No problem, we've had a bit of fun.
POM We've done one interview!