About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

28 Mar 2002: Maharaj, Mac

POM     I want to just take off from the point we were at last week and it's when you left the ANC. You said, "I've done my job, I walk away." When you left the SACP over the objections of one man being included in the leadership you said, "I'm out", and your row with Joe Slovo. I had asked you the question about feelings, these were people, causes, you had been intensely involved with from a very young age and you must have experienced some feeling of – you said you felt no sense of loss but that's almost not human. Where do feelings fit in this long category of your life?

MM     From my point of view in 1990 we said we are on the eve of resolving the South Africa conflict. The unbanning, the release, in my own reports to Oliver Tambo from within the country I felt that negotiations were coming and I felt that the negotiations would deliver a substantial forward movement in this country. They would unlock this process that this country was locked into. The result is that whatever the specific issue, deep inside me one felt that one had served to accomplish, and nothing I believe is accomplished fully. It is the fact that things are not accomplished fully that justifies you to stay on, stay on, keep working.

     I had also gone through a huge re-think in my mind for years about the experience that I had as a communist and I had come to the view that the statement that I was brought up under that a revolutionary dies in his boots was not correct. There was something flawed about that concept to me because I grew up in an environment which taught me that to serve this struggle you subsumed every one of your personal interests and I had now come to think that that was not correct.

POM     But when did you come to that?

MM     In the period of the eighties, in the period of the eighties I slowly had come to a feeling that – there used to be a famous booklet by Liu Shao Shi on how to be a good communist. He used to be General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and he wrote a booklet How to be a Good Communist and he said a good communist puts all his personal interests, everything, aside. He doesn't allow a conflict to arise between competing interests, he is single-mindedly dedicated to the cause of the struggle. So anything personal, be it relationships, be it ink, doesn't matter a bit. And he says if you entertain those interests then you will always enter into a conflict in your mind.

     Now that's how I grew up but in the eighties as I looked at the record of the struggle around the world and I looked at myself and I looked at my colleagues I said is that a correct way, and I came to the view that, no, that's not right. There has got to be a balance and I came down to putting it even more clearly for myself by saying how is it that children of revolutionaries inevitably don't share those same goals, values? And I said if the benefit of a revolutionary change is not to be felt in terms of values, I'm not talking material, in terms of values are not to be felt by your children because they harbour a grievance that they were deprived of their parents, then it means you've got to find a balance.

     So I could say in 1990 yes, with a tinge of regret, the very fact that I agreed to re-stand for elections in the ANC meant that I felt that the work was not complete but once I had served one term in the government I felt that I had done my job and I had no more qualms, no more.

     So in 1990, yes, I felt with regard to the Communist Party its repositioning in a space of legality, its repositioning in the context of the collapse of the socialist experiment meant that the party had to re-think both its vision and how to get there and I felt that in the South African space in the context of negotiations – I was saying about the party, I felt there was a huge need for a re-think and I felt that in the South African space it was not just a class constituency but it was a need to occupy a space in the alliance of speaking from a value based system because negotiations would need trade-offs. When I felt that they were not prepared to occupy that space I felt it would be pointless to be in that exercise.

     On the ANC side the fact that I returned six months later I think tells a story that I felt that the task was not yet sufficiently completed and having had the opportunity to participate in the negotiations process, when I look back I say, yes, it was a correct decision to return. Having completed that task the proposal that I should serve in the first government I found attractive because it was going to give me an experience from another side, the experience of building, but I had no illusions that the building job goes on and on and that I am not suited to go on and on in that direction, that it's time I got a balance with my family. I was very mindful by 1998 that from 1990 to 1998 even though we were now living together in SA there was just no space and time to do anything about my family. They saw less of me in the country living together under one roof than they saw of me before. And with a minister's job where you are expected to drop anything that you were doing with every day some crisis you could not even say to the family that next weekend I'm taking you out, because come Friday something else has cropped up and you have to keep saying to the children, "Sorry, I promised you this weekend but it's off now." "When next Dad?" "It will be another weekend, we'll find another weekend." And I said that's not the way children should be growing up, they will not share the burden.

POM     Had you got to a point with regard to communism where you had lost faith in the values it espoused?

MM     No. I began to question the means used and in questioning the means I began to feel that you can use means which distort the ends. I began to re-think the means that were used. I will give you a simple example. I don't think that the tools of analysis are wrong that Marxism works. I think Marxism provides you with a set of tools that you can use in analysing society and they are very useful tools but I keep saying to myself, if I was a carpenter in 1900 in my tool kit to do my carpentry there would be a hammerhead without the claw, there would be separately a claw, there would be a screwdriver with a flat head. If I then opened a carpenter's tool kit in 1990 there would be a hammer with a claw, there would be a flat head screwdriver but there would also be a star screwdriver and a set of Allen keys which also open a different type of screw. So more tools have developed in further helping you to analyse society. Marxism was supposed to be a growing science. It failed under the socialist experiment to take on board those additional tools as its tools. A forward movement would need to have a vision utilising all those tools of analysis and I felt that the experiment in the socialist countries which used nationalisation and state ownership had not delivered beyond a certain point. It had expanded the productive capacity of society but it had then trapped it, unable to expand those productive forces any more. I felt, therefore, the means used, this idea of social ownership of the means of production translated to mean state ownership was an inadequate means, it was a means that needed to be examined. It distorted the ends that were desired because under the guise of creating an egalitarian society it created a bureaucratic layer which was the beneficiary of the system.

POM     But did you ever have arguments about this with other members of the Central Committee, comrades?

MM     Oh yes, even with Soviet comrades, I had arguments about these things. My last argument was in 1990 in May when I entered the Soviet Union to come back into the country legally but not allowing a trail to show that I had been living in the country. I arrived in Moscow one day earlier than they expected me, there was a mishap in the communications so there was nobody to meet me at the airport.

POM     You told me this story.

MM     And I bribed my way and I said to the Soviet comrade when he said, "How did you get in?" I said, "I bribed my way." He said, "Not possible." I said, "Well which world are you living in? Which world are you living in because a 20 US dollar note was enough to get past that state apparatus which is supposed to guarding every entry point. They let me in without me being able to speak a word of Russian." And they were shocked. I said, "But doesn't it tell you something is happening to your society?" I walked with him on the Sunday through the market place, there's a market area in Moscow, I forget its name, where speakers stand up and recite poetry and make speeches and there are flea markets and everything going on and I saw a speaker, just the tone and the gestures he was using were so pent up with aggression that I stopped and I said to my Soviet colleague, "What is he saying?" He says, "No, ignore him, let's carry on." I said, "No, what is he saying? Translate." And he was spewing forth the most chauvinistic, nationalistic, jingoistic ideas. I walked off and I said, "How does …?"

     From 1917 to 1990, that's 50 years, that's three generations of people have passed through, lived under that system so there's clearly a generation that was born in socialism, that went to the crèche under socialism, whose parents had lived under socialism, that went to school under socialism, that went to university and is working under socialism. They have been open to an entire life shaping experience yet here he is spewing the most racist, jingoistic propaganda. How come? The end product is this. And if you describe it as an aberration, fine, but still how come that aberration? What is it that as a state controlled by the Communist Party they are not doing right?

     So we had this huge debate going, him and I, and I said, "Something's wrong here."So, yes, discussions, debates, lots of them. Even in the SACP when I got out of the country and was reincorporated into the Central Committee I said, "Guys, have we got a constitution for the Communist Party?" And I was told the constitution that we had nobody has seen, it was the days when the party had regrouped in 1953. So I said, "That's not good enough, let's see it and I want to see what does it say under obligations of the member and I want to see what are the rights of the member." And we ended up by passing a constitution somewhere around 1981/82 and I remember some of the comrades were saying, "There's no need for a constitution." I said, "There is because a constitution of a party such as the Communist Party gives the members certain rights and it must spell out what rights they have because we simply cannot say whoever is the leadership determines what are your rights and he can walk over your rights or he can accord you rights. That can't be." So these debates were there.

     I was saying that the vision of an egalitarian society is a vision that has driven humankind, even religious people are driven by that vision, the vision that you live in a condition of plenty so that your personality, your humanity, can flower is shared by many people but the end result of the socialist experiment was a further degradation of the human condition. So therefore my parting with the Communist Party was neither acrimonious nor did it leave any bitterness, I was able to look back at my past and say I served what I believed in and I've left it. And that's why today I don't get so het up and worked up about some of the debates that go on. I am able to look at the paucity of the debate. I raise questions like I did with Reflections in Prison and the supplement about unity and diversity. I said this century has inherited from the 20th century a problem which the 20th century did not resolve, be it racial, be it religious diversity, be it cultural or linguistic diversity, the idea that that diversity is the wealth of a society has not yet been realised yet it remains a challenge that we've got to resolve and when I look at the experience of the socialist experiment it contributes nothing in leading us to an understanding of how to move forward in this matter because it constantly said it has resolved the problem. It never – if you want to read now and say let's read about the mistakes that were made you can't even find that because ideally a communist party learning from that experience should be able to stand up and say now as we try to solve this problem in SA, don't repeat the mistakes that were made by us in the Soviet Union. If anything the best lessons that history tells you is what not to do, it doesn't tell you what to do. But I believe that if the Communist Party was serious to help in this country it should stand up and say, here is an experience that we have as communists, don't make the same mistake, avoid those mistakes but also acknowledge that the problem of realising the wealth of diversity has not yet got a blueprint, has not got a concrete experience which says this is the way to do it.

POM     So how would you reconcile the structure of the Communist Party with its little regard for internal party constitution with its outward commitment to a democratic society with a constitution, a bill of rights?

MM     I think that the matter hinges on the level of internal debate in an organisation. If the internal debate is purely formal then the demand that you abide by the majority decision becomes also mechanical. I accept that if there is vigorous debate internally and you then arrive at a decision there is need for discipline in acting but I think that more often than not internal democracy has been respected formally but not in content.

POM     Make the distinction for me.

MM     We used to read that in the Soviet Union, at least as was presented to the Soviet Communist Party Congress, that it was fully debated through the length and breadth of the country. I ask myself, was it fully debated? Were counter views given the opportunity, opposite theses, were they presented and given the opportunity so that by the time you came to congress the delegates arrived there having properly discussed the theses that were being presented and the counter view, or was the counter view just brushed aside by cheap debating, derogatorily running it down. I think that more often than not the debates were not structured. How is it that when Khrushchev talked about a 20-year plan it was adopted and arranged and hardly a day after he was overthrown everybody was saying how unrealistic his plans were. It can only point to one thing, the debates were not serious when he put his ideas.

     That brings us to one of the things that has been inadequately examined from the point of view of society and that is power. Where power resides, how it is exercised, how there are countervailing forces to the exercise of power. And those are open issues and the communist experience tells you what you not to do, it doesn't tell you which is the way forward.

POM     You joined the Communist Party in Britain?

MM     When I joined formally I joined the SACP in Britain.

POM     The SACP in Britain? Now that would have been?

MM     1958.

POM     1958. That was two years after the Soviets had crushed the Hungarians, five years after Khrushchev's revelations about Stalin. He went through Prague Spring in 1968.

MM     Prague Spring I was in prison.

POM     But you heard about it?

MM     Heard about it, got hold of the book called Prague Spring, read it, got some books like Art against Ideology by the Austrian communist. Got hold of many books like that to read.

POM     Did doubts not begin to cross your mind at that point, think something is wrong here?

MM     Sure. Hungary - I had at that stage no doubts because with Hungary I defended even before I joined the party, I was very active at university. I defended the Soviets in Hungary under the thesis that this was an imperialist plot to overthrow the socialist system. Khrushchev's letter and revelations about Stalin we internalised as an aberration in the socialist experiment. Then I went abroad and read a lot of literature of Kaiser Deutsche(?) and the rest trying to suggest that the roots of Stalinism went far deeper but there was no – at the moment I'm still buying the official view. By the time I'm in prison around the period of Prague Spring, yes, I have doubts about things but I have not yet articulated it in my mind.

     The philosophical debate by Bertrand Russell that on one side the ends justify the means and the other side the ends don't justify the means, I had accepted as a young man the ends justify the means. I was now gradually moving to a position that the means can destroy the ends but for that view to develop in me is a post-ninety phenomenon and that is where I'm sitting at the moment. I'm very clear that it sounds very plausible to say that the ends justify the means but I do believe that if you choose the wrong means it will distort the ends.

POM     Would you have applied the same logic to the struggle?

MM     Yes. In the struggle also there was a parallel process. That parallel process is expressed when you look at the necklacing phenomenon. Sitting in Lusaka we were torn, should we support the necklacing? Shouldn't we? As a … it means it was …but then we heard that the first woman who was killed –(break in recording)

MM     So when we spoke on Radio Freedom my own position was to fudge the edge of decision. I didn't come out in the Radio Freedom interviews broadcast to SA condemning and I tried to avoid supporting because I was caught between – is this a spontaneous phenomenon on the ground? There were other comrades who said we must welcome it. Everything told you that this is one of the most brutal forms of human activity. Then I hear that the woman who was killed, who was necklaced, was pointed out by an enemy agent and that occupies my thinking that the enemy is fomenting this technique and I say why? It's turning us inside into ourselves because a widespread use of that means will mean that they can behead our struggle because I just have to stand up in a crowd and say (someone is the enemy) and Maria can stand up and say Mac is the enemy. It is posing to us, is this real? This is like the French revolution and Madame Defarges.We debate this thing in the NEC and we decide not to support it but many comrades still feel wronged, we should support it.

     Now when I look at it I say it was a huge Pandora's Box because it appeared that the people were doing something, therefore that means it should be supported by you. What are you doing? You are behaving, the capacity of society to really use justice as a tool and justice as a tool to order society can only work if it weighs up the pros and cons and if it tempers the punishment with a sense of humanity to the point where in 1997/98 I took part in a debate at Chicago University with the head of the German Constitutional Court, a chap who used to head the Argentinean Human Rights Commission and Professor … and I argued that our TRC experiment was a manifestation of a search for restorative justice in place of retributive justice. It's an undeveloped concept. It sounds very nice 'restorative justice' but it is a reaction to the recognition that retributive justice is half-hearted justice, something wrong with the means if the rationale is retribution.

     I am saying now here was an issue and I was ambivalent between the political necessity of keeping on mass activity and inspiring the masses and the recognition of a brutal means. I say that this society that we've inherited is a society where values have broken down on all sides. I mean not just amongst the oppressors, I mean they broke down amongst the oppressed as well. We can find all sorts of explanations for it but the reality is therefore the necessity to consciously address the need to rebuild the fabric of society on a value base. When people today stand up to me and say return to capital punishment because crime is rampant, in my mind a return to capital punishment would be a fundamental retreat from the gains we made. Even if it is to address the exigency of today the retreat would be far-reaching backwards and I say don't abandon that, don't restore capital punishment, address the other questions that you're not doing well to deal with crime.

POM     To take this back to your own upbringing which we talked a little about, the influence of Gandhi. Gandhi from Newcastle had led the march into the Transvaal so Gandhi while you were growing up must have been one of those legends that are talked about, or whatever, and couldn't but leave some kind of – did he, you as a youngster, who did you look up to? Who were your heroes when you were growing up?

MM     Gandhi, I read a lot about Gandhi.

POM     When you were young?

MM     Yes, when I was still at home, Gandhi, Nehru, a lot. My parents were Indians, I read Gandhi's books, … of World History, Discovery of the Indian. That's while I was still a high school student. But I do recall that there were three photographs at home, Gandhi, Nehru – no there were four, Moulana Kalam Azad and there was a fourth one, Subash Chandra Bose who was from the Indian Youth League. He is the man who disappeared over the Himalayas purportedly on a flight to go to Germany to discuss a pact with Hitler but he was a militant who was advocating taking to war against Britain to get India's independence. These were the four.

POM     Who was Azad?

MM     He and Nehru and Bose were the lynchpins of the Indian Youth Congress and the new Turks. Bose was arguing for a strategy of open warfare with Britain in the context of the second world war to achieve India's independence and he had gone so far to say, "I will form even an alliance with Hitler to be able to achieve Indian independence." Now Bose was a hero to me, he was a hero. So while I saw Gandhi as a hero at the level of the means to be used I was prepared at that age to compromise in favour of Bose. I was still living by the saying that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Today I don't agree with that.

POM     So from a very young age what politicised you?

MM     I was politicised by what was happening in SA.

POM     You were living in your little village.

MM     In my little village I had to go to an Indian school and, worse, under pressure of the regime even in the Indian community you had three soccer teams in the adult section and I played adult soccer while I was a schoolboy. One was a team called Stellas, the bulk of its players came from the Hindu religion and they spoke Hindi. Then there was a team called NIFC, the bulk of its players were Tamil speaking Indians. Then there was a team called Ozone, the bulk of its players were Moslem. It was my first act of cowardice, I was playing for Stellas, I played for Natal as a schoolboy and when I left Newcastle the club, because I was a rising star player, insisted on me being registered for them so that in the vacation time at university would be the height of the soccer season, July, and they expected me to come to Newcastle and play in the key matches that would be competing at that time. And I returned to Newcastle to work as a truck driver to earn some money and the day I arrived that Friday night the club officials were there – "You're playing on Sunday." And I said, "No, chaps, no." I couldn't tell them that I could not live with this form of racism. I couldn't tell them, guys, I'm ashamed of what we are doing. We're not only divided racially, we're divided communally. In my cowardice I said to them I've given up soccer and I gave up my passion, soccer, because I could not tell them, I just felt that they wouldn't understand. I had changed in the six months in Durban. I was now in rebellion against any form of communalism, religious bigotry.

POM     Before you left, before you went to university, what was your attitude?

MM     I accepted, I had not questioned that. I was against racism but I was not questioning the sectarianism of religious bigotry which was being played out in the cultural arena in that community. I had not seen through that this disease of racism manifests itself not just in colour intolerance but it manifests itself in cultural intolerance and chauvinism. Leaving home made me aware of this but it could only be because it was already gelling in me.

POM     Was politics discussed at home?

MM     Very much so. The second world war, the idea of Indian independence, the passive resistance campaign in 1946 where prisoners, amongst them my relatives, were serving, the Freedom Day in 1950 – I was still in Standard 8. I know I bunked school ostensibly in support of Freedom Day but I used it to go and play out in the hills and to picnic. But the point is that you were living in that environment and there was a huge struggle going on in the Indian Congress to replace the moderate leadership with the Dadoo/Patel leadership and I recall going to those meetings of the community in support of Dr Dadoo and Dr Naicker.

POM     So this was a movement away from passive resistance, more or less the Gandhi line, to a more aggressive confrontational line.

MM     While I'm in Newcastle the two things are jostling, passive resistance is being waged in SA and I'm a supporter but I'm by instinct a supporter of Bose in India who says militant, let's fight. Then I witnessed the National Party coming into power in 1948 and the suburb where I lived there were Indians, there were coloureds, there were Africans and there were poor whites, we used to take our cattle to the cattle grazing camp and from the camp where we would play we would part to go to our respective racial schools but we were friends at the camp. But when in 1948 the Nats came into power I remember those Afrikaners, whites, at camp suddenly turning on us and assaulting us and we fighting back as kids. The cattle camp then became a battleground and within a year all these poor whites had moved out of our suburb because they were unemployed, they now got jobs on the railway, they supplanted black labour. They got houses provided by the railway and they moved out of our community, completely no longer friends. Yet we grew up in the same suburb pre-1948.

POM     So pre-1948 there was a degree of integration?

MM     No there wasn't integration, there was a degree of co-existence amongst the poor across racial lines. Already de facto white suburbs, etc., but the poor whites and us poor Indian and Africans and coloureds, we lived in the same suburb. We fraternised to a degree and yet we maintained our separate soccer clubs. So it was a co-existence of sorts but with the advent of Nats into power in 1948 they formally brought over the white section out of that community and formally made us conscious of our colour and formalised those relationships. My rebellion was already to the formalisation.

     Now that formalisation did more to make me politically conscious because what I was beginning to sense as a young person in an ambiguous group now I could sense was wrong in a very clear-cut and visible, but the means to be used were at the moment enemies and then slowly by 1952/53 when I'm in Durban my entry into the political struggle is by disagreeing with non-violence as a principle. I didn't disagree with it as a tactic but I accused the Congress movement of adopting non-violence as a principle and I said that's wrong. I can live with non-violence as a tactic but that does not exclude the need to resort to violence. The issue was never resolved. I used to be regarded as an ultra-leftist.

POM     Yet you're now living also in an era where other countries in Africa are achieving their independence through the use of guerrilla warfare.

MM     The only African countries were Kenya, Algeria, Cameroon. This is where arms had been used in one form of struggle. The Algerian one was still burning in 1960. The Cameroon revolt had been crushed. The Kenyan one seemed to have been a very undeveloped form compared to ours, the Mau-Mau, they were quickly crushed by the British. It was also the era of the Malaysian struggle, the Burmese struggle, the Indo-China struggle against the French, the Chinese revolution in 1947. So these were living examples that making non-violence as a principle was a wrong approach. But of course I later on understood that not all of the people in the ANC believed in non-violence as a principle but they were defending it because of the legal space it gave by saying we believe in non-violence, but inside that umbrella was a huge (difference of opinion). Every time we were faced with repression there would be a group bringing into question whether non-violence was efficacious in our situation. And the debate would go back to Gandhi because we made an exception of Gandhi on the grounds that Gandhi was successful in India because the ruling power, Britain, was amenable to moral persuasion, that the regime in SA was not susceptible to moral persuasion.

     Again, you were saying the means are dependent on who are the powers. For a long time in the eighties I said in our period of people's war and sabotage and armed activities, the rules are getting dirty but the rules of warfare are being set by the regime. So I was refusing to carve out a space that you have an independent capacity to determine your means.

POM     An independent capacity?

MM     To determine your own means. You cannot say your means are solely dictated by the enemy. If you say that you are into naked power issues denuded of human values, but that's a recognition – those are thoughts that have gelled in me over time.

POM     Would the Middle East today be a good example of – the thing was once called, in fact a book was written on this, I'll get the title of it for you, violence breeds violence and then it goes in a spiral and it's almost like a virus that has to play itself out? There's some point where you can do nothing about it, it just has to slowly play itself out.

MM     That is why, Padraig, I saw there are two challenges the 20th century has bequeathed to us. The one is the diversity issue and the second is how to resolve conflicts without war. Those are the challenges for this century.

POM     That's the essay you're going to write for me, remember? One more of your little tasks.

MM     Yes I know, I know.

POM     Make a note down there just in case you've forgotten.

MM     But that's a problem. In my mind these are the two challenges that the 20th century has bequeathed to us.

POM     I'm leaping back and forth because I've just begun going through your interviews with Howard. You left the country for training in - ?

MM     In Britain in 1957.

POM     1957 and you went abroad.

MM     I went from Britain –

POM     April 2nd 1961.

MM     I'm now convinced that I left London – April 1961 I left London to go to the German Democratic Republic.

POM     This was before the formation of the MK, by either the SACP or by the ANC?

MM     The debate had started on forms of struggle but I was asked to go for training by the Communist Party to train in the underground and it was when I was undergoing training that I received a communication to say that the party had decided on the need for armed forms – that was 1961. I was supposed to train in the GDR for six months as a printer. I was doing that course when I got this news and I then decided to add on a course in training on sabotage where instead of six months you were allowed to stay for a full year.

POM     You stayed away a year?

MM     I stayed away for eleven months.

POM     I'll give you a summary of what I thought some of the things you were expressing were rather than going through this. You mentioned the fact that the formation of the MK and even when the two formations came together as an autonomous body it in fact had a paralysing effect on the political underground that (i) youngsters, particularly if you were an activist in a trade union or whatever, at the end of the day you went and did your MK training, you didn't do your underground work, (ii) that after Madiba was arrested, after Rivonia anyway, because Walter Sisulu was the Acting Commander in Chief and then you had man named John Matthews who became the acting head.

MM     He became head of the High Command.

POM     And he was white so there was an undue - my inference is that there was an undue white influence.

MM     Yes because David Kitson, John Matthews and Lionel Gay were put into the High Command. By circumstance, yes, but an over-dependence.

POM     On whites?

MM     Whites.

POM     Whites leading, so what you had was – I thought I would make the analogy but I remember in many interviews I did particularly in the early nineties, say in 1989/1990 before many exiles had returned, many white leaders of the UDF were the people who were at the forefront and then with the return of the ANC they were in a way not marginalised but pushed on the sidelines. They were sidelined.

MM     That wouldn't be true of the UDF because the patrons were Archie Gumede and Albertina Sisulu and Boesak. The General Secretary was Terror, his Secretary was Popo Molefe, the Publicity Secretary was Murphy Morobe and the Assistant Publicity Secretary – the whites were not at the forefront of the UDF leadership. With the repeated detentions still Murphy and Valli stayed in the front line of it and in the unions you had Cyril, you had James Molatsi, you had Jay Naidoo. In the Congress movement what happened was that in the formation of MK the leadership cadres of the unions and everybody went into MK so we neglected the political organisation. The regrouping of MK, I say the compromise with necessity - a problem that occurred was in exile. In exile the words that began to be used were, 'Only the armed struggle will resolve this crisis'. I said that was becoming narrowly materialistic. Counterbalancing that in 1978/79 came the idea of people's war which involved the mobilisation of the people. That got distorted by an argument of whether to arm the masses or not arm the masses but my criticism there is even though we said people's war, our practical arrangements were militaristic because every person was sent for military training and it was assumed if you had done military training there is no need for you to undergo political training. That was the de facto reality.

POM     Was there a second reality too, that while particularly in the late sixties and early seventies that while you had this 'undue white influence' in the command and you had this movement of activists into the MK to the detriment of political work, even though they joined the MK they weren't getting the proper training, they weren't getting trained so you were losing on both ends?

MM     The undue influence of the whites was a passing phase because if you look at the leadership of the ANC in exile it was African. Look at the Revolutionary Council when it was formed in 1969, it was primarily African. The Political Military Council, primarily African. The NEC elected in Kabwe, primarily African. Since then it has remained that way but I am saying there is in the South African situation a tendency that we don't work through our psychological conditioning and one of those realities is that whites were more privileged. The next to be privileged were coloureds and Indians in the sense that even as the oppressed community they got better wages. They also did more things self help, the Indians, and funded their own schools so more pro rata were educated and therefore when we came together in the struggle these communities started off with an advantage and that advantage needed to be counterbalanced by the reality that the majority of the people oppressed here were African. It is that search for a balance that has caused problems in Africa and it's that search for a balance which at present is leading to a sense of marginalisation in the Indian sections or the whites. There's a sense of marginalisation also amongst the youth in this country. There is a sense of marginalisation in the working class through the union and yet this was the great strength of the ANC, its tactics were intended to draw everybody in. This is the underlying problem of the crisis.

POM     You underlined that I think when you referred to the fact that Chief Luthuli had accepted the armed struggle, had to accept the decision of the NEC but then put it to the whole congress and encouraged an open debate where some people saw it as an attempt on his part to persuade the decision whereas what you're saying he's doing was to create maximum unity among everybody, that everybody saw the necessity.

MM     Yes, bought into it.

POM     You were militant from an early age.

MM     My natural tendency has been towards a military position.

POM     What kind of support did you find in London for your position? Who were the leading figures then in the debate?

MM     That debate did not become a sharp one in London because in London there was such thing as a congress organisation and there were very few of us in this large South African population who came with a strong activist background. The second thing that happened in London is that when I applied to join the British Party very quickly I came face to face with the SA Communist Party and was then recruited into the SACP unit there and there were just a handful of us. Therefore, that was not a debate, a burning platform debate outside. The burning platform insofar as tactics was that I was already incorporated into the production of the African Communist so I could see we were busy debating it in our journal and when we discussed it in London as a Communist Party unit we favoured a move forward. There was no dispute amongst us but we knew that the decision has got to be made at home, not by us abroad. We were just a handful and our work was cut out, build up the support for the movement, recruit selectively, train people politically, improve the sanctions and boycott movement and build the solidarity action. Not a problem. I always know I'm going back home, that's where the centre is but home is already debating the tactic and I'm very clear that there are many people in the party at the level of the leadership of the party who are thinking we've got to change our tactics. So I'm happy with that.

POM     You returned after being in the GDR. You're inculcated into the MK. You talk about being appointed (a) to the High Command, (b) being the political commissar.

MM     Which I refused. When I arrived back I was interviewed by two comrades in the party but one was representing MK and one was representing the party. The debate was here's a chap now, he's trained in propaganda work, printing, he's trained in sabotage. Who gets him now? The party chap won. He said the big work that's needed is to set up an underground. Mac, you're going to work for the party. I worked in the party structures in the underground propaganda section until the Rivonia arrests. The Rivonia arrests take place and now there's a crisis, there's a shortage of people. I'm then approached to join the ad hoc High Command that's resuscitating MK. I was still active in the party.

     A comrade comes to see me. Before that the comrade who was trained in the High Command responsible for the regrouping was with me abroad so he's trained in China. He comes to me and he's discussing his problems of MK without my being in the command structure. One day he arrives with a pistol, he says, "I've got a problem. I was teaching a class on the use of pistols and I dismantled it and I can't reassemble it." It was a brand new pistol, a Spanish one. I've never seen that before. I sat down at the table and said, "Look, something must have happened in dismantling this thing." He's analysed the role of each part, and as we did that I found that he had short-circuited the dismantling process so one part was still attached and therefore he couldn't put it back. There was a third person at the table who was advocating forcing it and I said, "You never force this, you have to ask yourself what each part's function is and then you assemble it." And I succeeded in assembling it. Now the chap who trained in China from that moment began to come to me every time they were buying weapons on the black market. They would negotiate and he would say, "Wait, I'm taking this weapon to check", and he gave them to me and says, "Check it out whether it's a functional weapon. Are we buying a dud or are we buying a functional weapon?" Then he comes to me and he says, "Help, we need to manufacture a pipe bomb." So I sat manufacturing pipe bombs.

     Then he comes and says, "Now listen, we would like you to join the High Command as the Commissar." And I said to him, "That's an honour, I will serve."

POM     Commissar being, meaning?

MM     The Commissar's position is like number two, it's a structure borrowed from the communist partisan army but a Commissar was like a deputy to the Commander. I said, "That's an honour, I'm prepared to do it."

POM     It's not a political position?

MM     No.

POM     It's a military position.

MM     Military position, but I said, "I have not yet served in a sabotage unit in action." I'd done things like manufacturing bombs, buying equipment, checking our firearms, repairing firearms. I hadn't gone into action.He's supposed to make sure that the … and the soldier buys into the military decision on the basis of a political understanding so you're about the morale of our forces. I said, "How can I be the Commissar if I'm speaking about building their morale and yet I've not seen action? I will not be able to understand the problems that the cadre is going through." I then said, "Let's make a deal. In addition to my underground printing press work allow me to serve in a sabotage body for six months before I take up my post as Commissar." That was the deal that I entered into before the six months would expire and we were all arrested. So I have taken up that post.

POM     Did this come back to the contradictions between what appears to be the strategic goal and when the strategic goals are not thought out clearly how the different elements all become contradictory, is that you had again (i) young people who should have been in the underground and building the underground joining the MK, you had the MK that was really playing, to put it bluntly, like toy soldiers rather than real soldiers, not many people going on sabotage missions, no real training being done except for those who were sent abroad.

MM     With technical military training, that's all. They received no other training.

POM     So when they came back they were not really equipped to go into action as -

MM     Political organisers. How do you interface with the masses? How do you mobilise them? Simply carrying the gun is fine to attract them but how then consolidate that attraction. Each member capable of recruiting ten other people and politicising them, machismo, the adventure of military action. It was assumed, as I put it, that if you've read the communist manifesto you know everything and to use those tools creatively to analyse your situation, use those tools to analyse a problem and to give you through your analysis a way forward. But if you swing that sword the wrong way you can just chop your own head off. Rules cannot give you the answer. I can make as good a table with rudimentary tools as I can with sophisticated modern equipment. The difference is going to be if I have used my skill properly not in the quality of the table but the difference is going to be the time that I've spent making it.

POM     It's also fallacious to use just one tool in an analysis, that you can't say there is just one tool of analysis and it is the correct tool.

MM     It's a set of tools. There's no such thing if you want to build this table that you can only do it with a saw. There's a whole set of tools that are needed to make it. How do you use those tools if you want to cut this groove? You can't make this groove with a saw, you need a gouging instrument so you've got to use the right tool for the right thing but you've got to use a whole set of tools and I could use a rudimentary set and make his table and it will be of equal quality if I'm a good carpenter with a modern lathe. The difference then is going to be the time that I'm taking to make it and then of course you come along with your bloody bourgeois nonsense and you'll tell me the other one is handcrafted therefore it has got more value and Marx tells me that it's because I'm putting more labour into it, that's why it's got more value.

POM     Before Mandela was arrested he had come together with whoever was head of MK and the SACP.

MM     SACP armed units, it was Joe Slovo.

POM     So the two of them agreed to merge?

MM     To combine forces, yes.

POM     So then it would still exist as an autonomous organisation and it lasted as an autonomous organisation until – at what point did it become the actual - ?

MM     Armed wing of the ANC?

POM     The armed wing of the ANC?

MM     That is an interesting one because while the manifesto of MK says it is under the overall political guidance of the national liberation movement, unspecified, Mandela goes out on his African trip and one of the conferences he attends is the Pan African Freedom Movement for East and Southern Africa, East, Southern and Central Africa. I think the meeting was in Addis Ababa. Oliver Tambo and Robert Resha are abroad already mobilising support for the ANC. When Mandela arrives –

POM     Who was Robert Resha?

MM     He was a member of the National Executive of the ANC. Now Madiba arrives at the conference, meets OR and Robert and the question becomes who should address this conference? OR or Mandela? All the movements that are present there have one speaker but the view of Oliver is that the two of them should speak, Mandela and Tambo. OK. The question then arises, why two and what should Mandela say? Robert Resha argued that it was necessary to claim that MK – (break in recording)

     The PAC will receive the support of all the African freedom movement because the PAC's Pan Africanism is gaining a greater resonance than our congress. This is unique to imprint that the congress arrives led by the ANC and secondly you need to say that MK, which has carried out all this sabotage under your command, is a military wing of the ANC.

     Now the three of them discussing this problem persuaded and Madiba made this statement. That statement caused us untold problems because it meant that anybody arrested for ANC activities in SA could be charged with sabotage. It was a major problem in the Rivonia trial. It was one of the reasons among a plethora of reasons that Madiba never went into the witness box, he spoke from the dock so that he could not be subjected to cross-examination. Those statements that he made at Addis Ababa could not be put to him to confirm or deny. Speaking from the dock he prevented them from cross-examining him and the defence fought very hard to separate the legal penalties attaching to being a member of the ANC from the legal penalties attaching to being a member of MK.

     In the middle of the Rivonia arrests we in the underground issued a statement which caused the next round of problems for the lawyers. We issued a statement of extreme belligerence. We said with this repression and these arrests and these tortures going on in detention we are now going to go and hit the enemy, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. This leaflet was produced at the Rivonia trial by the state. The state argued that we in MK were pursuing a path of killing people and the defence had to fight very hard to neutralise that statement of ours, that leaflet.

     It succeeded in the Rivonia trial in separating the issue of ANC membership from MK membership but in the trials that came subsequently in the Eastern Cape the court accepted that if you were arrested you would be charged, count one membership of the ANC, count two raising funds for the ANC, count three recruiting for the ANC, count four MK. So just for being a member of the ANC a chap ended up with five years on each count and therefore was serving twenty years. It was only in the late sixties that some of those prisoners made appeals and the courts then said that was wrong to split one offence into four charges and put against each charge a five year sentence, an accumulative sentence of twenty. A number from the Eastern Cape got released and what they had been sentenced to because the courts now on appeal reduced the sentence. But that statement of Madiba –

POM     But that statement was made without the authority of the National Executive?

MM     Sure but Oliver Tambo was a senior Vice President, Madiba was a Vice President, Robbie Resha was an executive member. There was no way of communicating and phoning and saying get a meeting going. The question was what to do and when he came back he said, "Guys, these were the circumstances under which I made this statement." And we said, "Fine, we understand, but now let's get out of the mess that it's created." We got out of that mess. But as a result of that statement the tendency grew up to openly acknowledge – by the time my group are sentenced there are hardly any more trials going on and now the ANC is not visibly active in the country and began to repeat that MK is an armed wing of the ANC and that's how it is.

POM     Was that subsequent to the National Executive meeting that formally endorsed the MK as the military wing of the ANC or did it become kind of - ?

MM     It was de facto accepted, by the time Morogoro meets in 1969 it is implicit and the NEC is only re-elected in 1985. Until then the NEC was constituted by co-option in the exile conditions.

POM     In an odd way the ANC pushed –

MM     Us to acknowledge that MK was a military wing.

POM     To push, that the MK, so that's their contribution to the …

MM     Their contribution. And therefore you had that anomaly until Kabwe in 1985 that I, an Indian, a coloured or a white could belong in the ANC up to the Revolutionary Council but could never be a candidate for the National Executive and yet in MK we could serve in the High Command. In 1985 at Kabwe we say no, you can even be elected to the National Executive, you're a full member. You're giving your life in the armed struggle how can we exclude you in the higher political organs.

POM     Did you remain in exile after you came out of prison, like in the High Command of the ANC you would simply do political work?

MM     I was now made Secretary, specialisation, but I was in the Revolutionary Council which was the overall command of the home front, military and political. I was now assigned a full time job. Now and then I did military work on secondment for limited periods.

POM     During the period when the MK was an autonomous organisation it was theoretically at least not under the control of either the SACP or the ANC.

MM     Theoretically not under the control of anybody but in practice the resolution did put it under the control of the Congress Alliance Secretariat. Political guidance had to come from Congress. This is why Walter was at Rivonia not as a member of the High Command but as a member of the Secretariat, the political Secretariat, so that Operation Mayibuye, while the High Command drafted it, had not been an accepted document because it was still not yet accepted by the ANC. That was a major strategic document and it needed the endorsement or sanction of the political movement. Govan Mbeki argued that it was acceptable. Walter said no, we were still discussing – you in the High Command had accepted it but it was still not to be operational until it was accepted by the Secretariat but we hid that away from the public line. We said it's under the political guidance of the national liberation movement. We didn't say who makes up the national liberation movement but in clandestine conditions we accepted that the ANC had to sanction the direction.

POM     So the bone of contention between –

MM     How to move our defence at Rivonia, it's there, you'll find reference to it in Reflections in Prison.

POM     One of the many things one hears about SA in the past is that it was a very legalistic society. Do you find it odd that after Rivonia where if you were arrested in the Eastern Cape, for example, you could be charged with four different offences each carrying five years and that then some years later, I assume an Afrikaner judge, kind of says you can't do this, this is against the law. In other words he's saying to the government you can repress to this extent or that extent but in fact what you're doing here is illegal. How do you explain that contradiction in the Afrikaner mentality?

MM     Well it's not just an Afrikaner mentality, it's the British in Ireland. They would go and pass a law abrogating the legal processes for Northern Ireland. They justified detention without trial on the grounds of an emergency but they had to go through the ritual of passing the law. In the meantime it was happening already. You get different indictments in the Human Rights Court in Europe and found guilty of violation of human rights in the treatment of prisoners in Ireland and you find tomorrow a British court ruling against what the British police have done. I think that's because in each terrain, each segment of organisation of society builds up its own rationale and in the justice system you have this thrust about natural justice and it was not unknown to find a judge who was British serving in the High Court in India saying to one of the Indian freedom fighters, "You're guilty but your sentence is small", and another one saying at a different phase in the struggle, "I don't think you've done any crime", and six months later the same judge, another accused, saying, "This is a heinous crime."

     Here we have a good corps of lawyers who throughout the dark days kept on defending the political cases and seeking ways to push back the repression. Of course there were Afrikaner lawyers as well. One of the best is Barend van Niekerk, a law lecturer, who came out against capital punishment in the seventies and he achieved quite international status as a jurist of standing. He unfortunately died the other day, had a great future. But then you have a John Dugard, you have an Arthur Chaskalson who quietly went away defending political cases, chipping away, looking for new loopholes in that system to modify the repression. You had George Bizos all the time defending. I remember in my case he said, "Guys, I promise you one thing," as we were sentenced, he said, "I've made it my task, I will cross-examine Swanepoel one day in one of the trials and I will smash him." Actually he caught him at one trial and made him look like a fool. That was the last time Swanepoel gave evidence.

     It's the nature of society and that's the issue of power. The way the power is distributed in society, the way our blood system, our arteries and our veins down to our capillaries distributes the blood, power is distributed and diffused in society. There is a central font of power but in that exercise of power the entire system is very important in keeping the body alive. So you can't get away from power but you've got to acknowledge that even the capillary plays an important part in distributing the blood at the right places and therefore it needs that diffusion for the entire organism to be healthy. Power when completely centralised is very dangerous.

     Now today the courts have ruled again that the government is wrong on nevirapine, they had better administer it while the appeal is pending. The minister last night was on TV saying if the court ruled that way the government will not abide by it.

POM     This is the Health Minister?

MM     Yes. A very dangerous situation, a dangerous position because Mandela set a precedent, even if our courts are imperfect you will have to tackle the courts, you will have to work to change the judgment but the certainty that you are right does not give you the right to make a judgment. Often those judgments made by the courts may be wrong but the distribution of power requires that you respect those judgments. The consequences of defying that judgment are a consequence of demeaning the (justice system).

POM     A very good example of that is when the US Supreme Court ruled, essentially gave the election to George Bush.

MM     Yes.

POM     The public said we disagree but the court ruled.Can I go backwards, do you know this guy, we saw this in the Mail & Guardian, a man named Moses Mzila?

MM     From Vula? No.

POM     He said he took part in Operation Vula, that his house was used in Zimbabwe. He's given the address.

MM     Sorry. In Vula we never smuggled weapons through Zimbabwe.

POM     A letter on your behalf?

MM     No. He might have done it for others but now it's Vula so I have to pay the price for that too! Isn't that funny, life? Look at that, he now wants a pension.

POM     I just want to clear up, I'm seeing Tim Jenkin, I'm going to Cape Town tomorrow or Thursday. Back to the Tim Jenkin's articles: -

     "On July 14th some bad news arrived very urgently. It appears that Vula may be facing serious major casualties. Three days earlier contact with Gebhuza has been lost. Shortly before this Gebhuza had reported that a certain comrade had been missing for a week. A number of other comrades had been arrested as well as Gebhuza's assistant. This created a big problem as the assistant was in the habit of moving around with Gebhuza's programme and key disks as well as his data files. This was against all rules though we had suspected that some of the comrades were less than meticulous about observing them. He was arrested – leeway in Johannesburg. The regime released to the press, revealed that indeed a number of important documents had fallen into their hands. It became clearer by the day that the comrades in Durban had violated all the rules of security that we had so assiduously tried to impress upon them. The data files with confidential information were kept in clear disks, key works and key books must have been easily obtainable. The minutes of an entire underground conference were quoted by the police as evidence of a plot to overthrow the government. Those of us in London and Lusaka were shocked by the lack of measures taken by the Durban comrades to protect their information. What was the purpose of all the encryption programmes and security manuals that had been sent in at such risk? Such measures were of no value whatsoever if the rules were not obeyed. The entire communication system had been designed to withstand this sort of disaster but when the time of reckoning came the police found an open book."

MM     It sits with Gebhuza and Susan Tshabalala. He was using her as his communication officer. All I can say is that in every area right up to the last day and the last minute I continued to be vigorous in that communication and you can verify that with Janet Love because she was my … the minutes of the Tongaat meeting. I don't think it was a question of decrypted version, it was an encrypted version that was sent to them. One did not have to be accessed from the disks because there was a print-out of that minute sent by me to the Central Committee in Lusaka. It did not specify where the meeting took place or the identity - I think that it is true that sensitive material had been decrypted … in an encrypted fashion … could be easily mechanically decrypted by us because those programmes were based on wiping out the encryption system. Between him and Susan I do not believe that the encrypted version … It's a question you should ask him.You told me that Davidson said that they had managed to crack it. I don't believe it.

POM     General Meiring says that, that the SADF were aware of Vula, that Vula was in fact operating in the country.

MM     They tumbled on – why the frenzy, why did De Klerk get so excited that he tells Madiba, "You don't bring Joe Slovo because Slovo is involved", and Madiba says, "What do you mean?" He says, "Slovo was at the Tongaat meeting",Madiba says, "Listen, I have seen Slovo's passport. He was not in the country at that time."

POM     I've asked Meiring to provide an intelligence source that could verify his statement. He hasn't yet come back.

MM     I don't believe that they had detected us. I believe that the death of the two people, Mbuso and Charles Ndaba seemed on the surveillance level that the meeting of the NEC which supported the suspension of the armed struggle - every second I knew that I was under 24 hour surveillance. That doesn't mean I couldn't have given them the slip. I may or may not have succeeded in giving them the slip but I was aware that I'm under 24 hour surveillance and my own conscious decision that I had not yet succeeded in reaching all the centres to tell everybody to take count. I said all I do is that if they detain me they must detain me in the public limelight so that everybody knows and let them take cover.

POM     Tim's conclusions here -

MM     Let me read it, I'll read it quicker. You've got underlined portions.

     "The channel remained open and continued to carry heavy traffic. The question of the role of the underground remained unresolved. So long as the regime maintained its arrogant attitude the situation could not be said to be irreversible. There was need to maintain structures that could be aroused to carry on the struggle. Even after the ANC renounced the armed struggle there was need to ensure weapons were securely stored in the event of a sudden reversal."

     That statement is made in a fashion to me that opens it out to the theory of the insurance policy and I explained to you last time that that was not the approach. It wasn't an insurance policy. We needed to maintain the weapons store, we knew we had moved forward. Yes, negotiations had opened, the process had not reached irreversibility but that did not mean that we did not have a duty to prevent reversibility and how you did that was not going to be necessarily through arms. We had now got a strategic beachhead. For FW to retreat he would have had to face the wrath of the entire world and the South African population and what had emerged central inside the country was that the masses, their action of paralysing this country could not be under-estimated because De Klerk could not …because if he did that, pooh! He's finished, the western countries could be …Those were issues to politically debate.

POM     What he's saying here is that Vula was used as – or the regime tried to use Vula as a weapon to drive a wedge between the ANC and the SACP.

MM     That failed.

POM     "The (lessons) of Vula are clear. Without first class communications you cannot carry out a successful underground operation. Underground does not mean silence, it simply means operating at a different level, one that operates in parallel but separately from the above ground. Both need to be able to communicate in order to operate effectively but the underground communication links are more critical as they are the cement that binds together the parts. You carried its activities over a two year period and during that period more structures were created than during the previous twenty years. Although perhaps fewer weapons were smuggled in than during the previous twenty years fewer ended up in enemy hands and fewer people were captured."

MM     His thesis, he's only discussing the communication side and I think that communications is a vital instrument, critical instrument, but is it a sine qua non for a successful underground? I think other means of communication besides what we used, but communications are central. I certainly decided when I was asked in 1986 by OR, I made it a condition that he give me the capacity to research and develop a communication system into the country only when I got there we had cracked the problem leaving me with the conclusion that we had created more structures on a viable and sustainable basis than we had created in the previous twenty years.

POM     You do believe that?

MM     Yes. Oh yes. My recollection is that of the 26 magisterial districts in Durban we had viable structures in 14 of them. We were operating right under the nose of the enemy in the worst periods of repression and we continued that, just carried it to be used on how to replicate that experience. Many comrades began to feel mechanical about that work and there was a sense of complacency. Those communications were unencypherable. If they had not found those records the ball game would have been different in the sense, which was processes that went through on the question of indemnities and broad capacity to build up the SDUs which to a certain extent impaired about certain people than they would have ever found out earlier. His information was what was being communicated to outside from the people in each magisterial district. If you ask me who in each of the magisterial districts I wouldn't know the names because besides communications you had your other rules of underground work to cut out the relationship. I didn't go down and meet every cadre. I met a certain level of cadre and that's it and the others, now and then exceptional people, often didn't know who I was. Similarly with Gebhuza but I think there was a tendency of certain other individuals to think that they could not go on meeting everybody, hail fellow well met you know, let's go for dinner. I think from a communication angle it's not wise.

POM     In retrospect, give me an evaluation of Vula in terms of the time, the resources, the planning, an analysis.

MM     Like I would do one in the bank now?

POM     Like you would do it in the bank now, right. Now that you've a different value system.

MM     Oh I think that – I think it played a significant role. I think the capacity of the mass structures, of everybody to respond to the challenge of negotiations was in some way facilitated by Vula. I think that the idea of a disciplined force surviving was crucial. There may be larger lessons from Vula over how one interprets our past history pretty late in the day. I think Vula type operations should have been taking place to show that you could survive and do it. I think it remains inspirational. There were people in the movement, the enemy tried to split the movement, it failed but I think that the movement, many cadres in the leadership of the movement did not know how to respond to capitalise on its inspirational value. I think that the very fact that even Mzila says, "I was Vula", does say that at the mass level there is a huge inspirational value. It goes not just to the Vula people but it goes to the ANC because they said the ANC was capable of doing this work. I certainly walk around the streets and I find people still greet me, they still greet me as Vula and we hadn't recruited them.

POM     Just to go back to detail. I spoke to Gillian and we're going to spend a day together, whatever, going through a number of documents that she has. Three volumes of –

MM     At the Mayibuye Centre.

POM     At the Mayibuye Centre which I will look for. I'll be there on Wednesday.

MM     If you don't find it there the person who has got photocopies of it, photocopies of some of them, of two volumes at least –

POM     That leaves us with the – after Easter you will –

MM     Try to work on … I'm pursuing the Vula papers.

POM     Your own papers.

MM     At home and I've been through the Oliver Tambo document, I've been through it, I've marked out a few documents which I want to phone Caryl and ask her to access them so that I can go with her and page through them. No point in making copies of them at this stage because I'm just saying maybe we'll find things under that file name and what I want to do is contact Caryl, give her a list of those files and make an arrangement with her on which day she and I will go to the library together and quickly look through those files. It's not the sort of thing that I have the time to read everything but I'm sure that just glancing through I would be able to see, wait a minute, is this what I'm looking for, what's interesting stuff.

POM     I will talk to Davidson, I'll get back to him again. You've got all your own papers.

MM     Now those I haven't made any progress yet because I'm busy producing something over the next three months. I've got three major pieces. One is going to be about 40 pages I've got to write. I'm helping to write a script for a film.

POM     You're becoming a scriptwriter?

MM     Somebody has asked me to take this script and rework it for a TV film, but I will work on this one. Mine at home I just can't find the courage to sit down and start going through my mess in my study.

POM     Caryl can start there.

MM     My wife wouldn't let her walk into that room it's such a mess.

POM     Oh I see. We don't have three months. I have to give in the next couple of days –

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