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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
17 Jun 2004: Maharaj, Mac
POM Mac, placing of the time line.
MM To get this whole thing I went back to 1985. 1985 November Madiba goes into hospital, the Volks Hospital, and this is the period when Kobie Coetsee and Winnie Mandela accidentally meet on the plane and have a chat. 23 December 1985 Madiba comes out of the Volks Hospital and when he is returned to Pollsmoor he's not taken back to the section where he was staying with Walter and Kathrada, he's put separately. Sometime in December/January, December 1985, January 1986, George Bizos goes to Lusaka to meet OR to brief him. Now obviously this briefing could not be more than simply saying that Kobie Coetsee dropped in on Madiba at hospital because Madiba's version of that hospital visit is nothing serious was discussed but certain conclusions were drawn by each side.We then move to 1986 and we find that early in 1986 the EPG comes.
POM That's April.
MM No, no, early in 1986 the EPG comes into operation. On 25 February they visit Madiba and interestingly on 28 February George Bizos again goes to Lusaka. To me it suggests that
POM He went to Lusaka on?
MM 28th. It suggests that he had a visit with Madiba after the EPG and Madiba used George to go over to Lusaka to give OR some idea of how the EPG is seeing things and how he is seeing things. On 19 May 1986 come the attacks on Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe while the EPG is here. So the EPG team was flying in and out and that's what scuttled the EPG thing. I haven't checked this, independent sources say that by that time the EPG, certainly Obasanjo, had begun to evolve a sort of process that would in their minds unlock the South African situation and it's in June 1986 that the Ford Foundation conference takes place in New York at which De Lange of the Broederbond is present.It's quite difficult work I'm doing for you.The Ford Foundation conference, that's where De Lange is present. So it begins to show that the EPG ran into trouble, Madiba is having discussions.
POM Obasanjo was making progress.
MM That's what Obasanjo believes. He believed that he was making progress to find a partial movement forward and I don't know what Madiba's attitude may have been at that stage to a partial movement but Madiba would have been saying let's engage in it to push it for more what we need, possibly.
Now we come to 1987. In 1987 October when Thabo and company have the first Mells Park discussions in the UK, the first meeting at Mells Park, interestingly in November Govan Mbeki is released.
POM Did you see a guy called Robert Harvey's book on that?
POM There's a whole book on Mells Park.
MM Robert Harvey?
POM He used to work for The Economist.
MM Oh I haven't seen that.
POM It's a book that never got much but essentially what it says is that, he was saying about the release of Mandela and the prisoners, a lot of the things that emerged afterwards were all settled there and then the talks were abruptly cancelled and there was no follow up. It was like movement, movement, movement and then nothing. I'll copy the chapter and have it faxed to you so you can look at it. But November 1987 Govan is released. This is one of the things that they were talking about, release of Govan.
MM We then come to events in 1988. In March 1988 Madiba writes his letter to PW.
POM Is that the one that Zindzi read out?
MM Three places. It's the Anthony Sampson book.
POM He's useless.
MM The Sisulu book and the Madiba autobiography.
POM Which one are you looking at? Are you looking at - he wrote one letter that was read out by Zindzi about 'I will not renounce violence.'
MM That's 1985 now, long before.
POM His thing with (Ayob) was not set up then.
MM This one is the letter that deals with those three issues that are impediments to talking to the ANC. The Zindzi letter is a rally in 1985 at Jabulani Stadium. Sisulu, the autobiography
POM And Mandela says this?
MM Mandela says, I think the Mandela book says in January 1988 he met Walter and began to give Walter an outline of the approach he would be taking.
POM Now Madiba was still in Pollsmoor?
MM Yes. But the meeting would not be telling Walter, I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that, it's saying, look, I'm taking this gap and I think these are the blockages and this is what I have to address. Because in May 1988, two months later, Kobie's special committee is now established. There is a confusion caused because in August 1988 the Mandela autobiography implies that Madiba wrote to PW. I have dismissed it because on 12 August Madiba is admitted to Tygerberg Hospital. In the autobiography this August, the period where Madiba writes, arises because of the sideways sentence says he had written to PW but shortly thereafter he was hospitalised and therefore everything went haywire. He has not said categorically, "I wrote and sent the letter in August", but other books say that he sent the letter in March 1988 and to me it makes sense because it is months later. Remember I and Gebhuza entered the country in July 1988.
POM 1 August or 31 July, one or the other.
MM I'll go and check again now because I've been working on the basis that it's 1 July.
POM You said before it was 31st.
MM Certainly it is the first day of the month, change of shift.
POM I can easily check that.
MM Be that as it may, 7 October is when Zarina has the accident, 7 October 1988, and December Madiba is released from Tygerberg Hospital, I think he had moved from Tygerberg to Constantia, then released and taken straight to Victor Verster.
POM December he goes to?
MM Victor Verster.
POM When were you informed of Zarina? You were informed by Mo? Do you know the time, about how long afterwards?
MM Well if it was 7th it would be probably about a week later because Momo saw her the day she had the accident or the day after because there was a 30 person delegation from home made up of Indians who had gone to Lusaka to meet the ANC. So Momo did not return with the group, he flew from Lusaka to Malawi. He stayed away from the group, he went off to Malawi and came via Malawi and he saw Zarina again at the airport on her way to Harare.
Now we come to 1989. February 1989 PW Botha resigns as NP leader. March 1989 mention of a memo by Madiba to PW Botha.
POM Where is that mentioned?
MM I don't know, I don't have the reference here but let me see if I've got it elsewhere.
POM A mention to whom by whom, where?
MM It's in one of the books. The four books that I've been using are Mandela's Long Walk, Sisulu's biography and Sampson and Shubin.
POM I have Shubin right here.
MM Yes, you've got Shubin there. So those are the ones that I'm using at the moment. I can't find the piece of paper where I put the references but I put it with a question mark, there is a mention of a memo. On 5 July Mandela meets PW. Now this is part of the reason why this mention of this memo in March is dismissed by me as not being that key letter.
POM Because he wouldn't have known he was going to meet the guy. He says in his autobiography -
MM The reason why I'm saying it's not the memo, I'm saying PW would not have reacted so fast to that memo. PW was now out of NP leader, was now simply State President and was having enormous problems as a consequence of being State President but not NP leader. So for him to receive a memo from Madiba of the sort that we're talking about is too soon to allow him to have the consideration, consultation within the state bureaucracy, because the decision to meet Madiba would have taken long cogitation which way to go because PW had driven himself into a corner with the 1985 decisions which said, "Mandela, I will release you if you renounce violence", and Mandela's rebuff of that condition, now made it whatever steps he was going to take was going to be a zigzag retreat and he needed time to do that. So it makes it more logical for me that he received the memo in 1988.
POM That's not the way Shubin has it and that's not the way Mandela writes it. What they're saying is that he was informed, which is all very rushed, he was informed that he was going to see PW and it was like a PW whim, it didn't go through state bureaucracies because Barnard didn't know about it until somebody came and said you're going to meet with him and they equipped him out for the State President.We can check this, I'll go into the ANC site. In his message to Tambo from prison it said the ANC leadership was aware that numerous meetings have been taking place with Mandela and the government. Tambo mentioned about thirty or more sent from the meeting with PW and before Tambo's departure promised the comrades to send more information. The ANC president had a document stating Mandela's position which Tambo had received the previous week from South Africa.
MM Now that can't be because I'm already there, I'm on my way. What's the point?
POM You had left?
MM I'm already in Moscow.
POM No, you arrived in Moscow on 12 July.
MM The 5th we meet. And I stayed away six months abroad, when would I have sent the letter?
POM I know, but then it comes back to if this was a letter from Madiba that you're talking about, what all the fuss was about, then it didn't arrive in 1989.
MM No, I'm saying the letter went in 1988.
POM I know, well, OK, but then why would you be asked to go to the NEC to explain a letter from 1988 but the letter, Mandela has already met with PW, you have transmitted a copy.
MM And that letter is transmitted before they even meet.
POM Let's see what the site says. We can go back and forwards, I don't want to spend too much time on it because we won't get any place, we can always go back on it but let's just go to what it says on their own site.
Mandela document.This is what it has for Mandela documents: -
Ø Letter addressed to the Minister of Justice from Robben Island in 1969.
Ø Mandela's after the 1976 uprising.
Ø Zindzi's statement of 1985.
Ø Message to Second Consultative Council in 1985.
Ø Message of condolence on the death of Machel, 1986.
Ø Mandela document prepared for meeting with PW Botha. In the introduction to that it says
MM You've made a deduction from this that the letter had not reached OR when I get to Moscow.
POM No, I make the deduction that it had reached him.
MM You said the letter had not reached him.
POM No that's way back.
MM I accepted it. OR was sitting with it and he said, "I am sitting with this letter but I've now waited and I think events have come to a point where I should disclose it." And he hasn't disclosed it to Shubin because once he discloses to Shubin he loses control, he doesn't know when Shubin will tell some other ANC member or party member. So the letter had reached him well before I get to Moscow in July.
POM Now because, I'll tell you why, because he refers to the Harare Declaration and the Harare Declaration was
MM There is no reference to the Harare Declaration in that letter.
POM Yes there is. I have it in front of me.
MM No, where is it in the letter?
POM In the memorandum he prepared for PW.
MM The memorandum for discussion when he meets is a totally different thing from the letter that he wrote to PW.
POM OK. And we are talking about a letter he wrote to PW and that doesn't appear anywhere. Where is that letter? Why is it not listed anywhere?
MM The references are very clear.
POM What I'm saying is that there's no letter.
MM I don't know. I'm not checking the ANC website that there's an authentic letter. This is the Mandela document. Oh the other book that I use is Tim Jenkin's.
POM Before the meeting on 5th of
MM All these sort of things, that is not in the letter.
POM Tim Jenkin? I asked Tim Jenkin.
MM I say I use his book also.
POM I asked him about communications from Mandela. He couldn't remember the contents of anything and he never remembered this document going through.
MM No he wouldn't remember. Tim was a communications office.
POM But you were saying you use him as a reference.
MM I say I use his book to do the locating because then it means to say that that letter was never sent by me.
POM Which letter?
MM The letter that Madiba sent to PW. If it has not reached OR by July 1989 and I returned to the country in February 1990, when did I send it to OR?
POM I don't know.
MM No, I'm asking you, I'm asking you when did I get the letter to send?
POM That's the question I asked you in the chapter.
MM The question arises, Padraig, it's not an invention. Allan Boesak has told you there was such a thing, there was the talk that Madiba is collaborating.
POM We've established without a shadow of doubt that there was talk all the time, since the time you came out. OK, I think what we should do is go as far as we can with this chapter and then check out all the other
MM Let me quickly give you the other dates.
POM 5 July Madiba meets with PW and he's prepared a memorandum that he sent to him beforehand.
MM Yes, but the memorandum is gone.
Ø 7 August OR has his stroke. Now you confuse that somewhere else in another chapter.
Ø 14 August PW resigns as President.
Ø 21 August OAU adopts the Harare Declaration.
Ø 15 October Walter and company are released.
Ø December/January, that I haven't verified, Walter and company visit Lusaka.
POM They got their visas on 27 December but they arrived in Lusaka probably at the beginning of January.
MM Alright. Why did they need visas?
POM They had to get passports.
MM Oh, passports. In this scheme we've got to fit in that I exit the country the end of June, early July. It is now clear that I meet OR, JS and Ivan in early July.
POM On 12 July in Moscow.
MM 12 July.
POM 11th or 12th, it's in Shubin.
MM "When OR Tambo and Slovo came to Moscow to meet Mac we had discussions with them on 11th and 12th." Shubin would not be in that meeting. This discussion we had is the Soviet side.
POM OK, well you're in there, you're in Moscow by the 12th.
MM The latest, I'm there already. Now we come to 1990.
POM No, you leave Moscow and you go to London.
MM Alright, when?
POM That's to visit Zarina.
MM Right. I haven't got that date yet because I haven't found it in a book but I am saying round about in September is the NEC meeting in Lusaka.
POM September is the NEC meeting.
MM Then I think that the version that I have put that I saw OR in London in hospital is on my way back, not on my way to Lusaka. And that would have been in December/January because by that time his condition would have been stabilised.
POM You are at an NEC meeting in Lusaka. You then go back to London and then you return to Lusaka to pack and meet Ronnie and Slovo. OK, return to Lusaka and you return to London and then in January
MM January I'm in Moscow. December/January I see OR in hospital.
POM You spend New Year with your wife and kids. You exit early January to Moscow.
MM We're saying December/January, I just put the stroke there because there's nothing at the moment that is backing the date. So we say in January I am in Moscow. Certainly I'm in Moscow on 2 February but nothing says that I'm in Moscow on 11 February and that's why I'm saying that the greater likelihood is because Shubin is saying that after 2 February he came to me and said, "Shall we cancel your booking?" And we say, "No."11 February Madiba is released. It seems therefore I re-enter South Africa a few days after that. We haven't put in Ronnie's entry.
POM He doesn't depart Moscow until 20 March.
MM So he would enter end of March 1990. 4 May is the Groote Schuur. 19 May is the Tongaat meeting. Round 30 May Ronnie and I exit.
POM On 20th, you get indemnity on 20th.
MM Get indemnity, come to Jo'burg and then fly out. So I'm saying around 30 May we leave. On 15 June we return. On 20 June JS and Mac address a press conference about the launch of the party.20 July another NEC meeting. 25 July I'm arrested.
POM There's an SACP meeting in there some place too.
MM Coming to it.
POM 25 July you're arrested.
MM And 27 or 29 July is the launch of the party. You see the very item I put around 20 June, JS and Mac address a press conference, that is where we announced the party legally surfacing and planning for the public launch on the anniversary of its formation. 6 August is the Pretoria Minute. 7 August Madiba visits me at Sandton. End of September/early October Madiba visits me in St Aidans. Now that's my timeline at the moment. I have only queries left about 12 August, about the memo that is talked about that Madiba sent to PW in March 1989 because in my view the letter that we talk about setting out the pre-conditions, the three issues, is done in 1988 March. March 1988 and that's what has a direct bearing that Kobie's committee comes into existence in May 1988. That's when Niel Barnard, Willemse, Fanie van der Merwe begin to have regular meetings with Madiba.
POM He wrote to Kobie but he heard nothing. We can check that in his biography.
MM All that happened is that Kobie dropped in onto him the first time. The second time they came again. Then in 1988 after Govan's release started a regular series of discussions and those start in May.
POM Now you have them here, OK. So for the moment now we're operating on the assumption that the letter that got into the hands of Valli and company was the letter written in 1988.
MM Yes. And we know one thing, that the contents of the letter were the three issues. The three issues were violence, relationship with the Communist Party and
POM Those are exactly the three issues he discusses in the memo, in the document that he sends to
MM Those are his notes for what he's going to talk about.
POM For notes they're very coherent.
MM But there's no other opportunity to send it. Let's be very clear about that because if it is the notes that he's making for the July meeting in the last minute, I'm already gone.
POM OK but he mentions the Harare Declaration in it.
MM Harare Declaration I have sent to him before I have left the country and that Harare Declaration is still not yet adopted.
POM You took the Harare Declaration in to him because he's one of the ten people that you had to get it in to and out from. That's in and out.
MM Incidentally there's no comment from him on the draft. There's a draft that we sent to him, the ten people, in his case there was no comment available from him.
POM We'll get to that one. Let's go back now and take that chapter.
MM You've got a comment here on the first paragraph. "You were asked to come out well before Mandela's memo to Botha." I disagree.
POM Memo, when I'm saying memo, I mean this memorandum that we've just
MM I am talking about the letter.
POM You're saying that he prepared?
MM He sent a letter and he dictated that letter, he read off the letter to Ayob.
POM What I'm saying is we're talking about two different things.
MM No, but you concluded so that was not the reason that he was asking in that memo
POM I said memo, not letter, Mac.
MM But my reason for going there, I've never used the word 'memo'. I said Madiba wrote a letter that when I get to Moscow OR says to me, "I want you to come to Lusaka." There's no other reason why I had to go to Lusaka.
POM The time you get to Lusaka in his message to Tambo from prison sent before his meeting with PW and before Tambo's departure from Moscow, "Mandela had promised his comrades to send more information but there was clearly some delay. The ANC President divulged to us the document (not the letter, the document) stating Mandela's position which Tambo had received the previous week from South Africa."
MM I disagree. I say it could not be the previous week. Then somebody else sent it. Then there's another channel of communication working with Madiba.
POM And the quote he takes from it, he says he regarded this as part one of Mandela's report. Mandela stressed that, "No irrespective of his status." That's in his book.
MM Not in 1989. That's 1985. Shubin is causing the confusion there.
POM Well then everyone is confused except you.
MM Yes, yes. We just have to be absolutely clear on it.
POM We can't be clear on a word, we have to verify it.
MM We have to verify but you cannot verify with a source like that.
POM That's fine, you said you used Shubin.
MM No, wait a minute, I'm using him and I'm saying where's his contradiction? He is reading a phrase that appears in the statement made by Zindzi in 1985.
POM Well we'll check that.
MM I'm saying what you've done is you question why I was called out, sorry, that can't be the reason, and I say that's crap.
POM OK, well on 11 June he received a request, that's here, that's on 11 June. You were asked to come out in early June.
MM Sure. I'm asked to come out at the end of May, early June. And I say there I've no passport, nothing, how do I get out?
POM OK let's go back on that. "I received a message in June asking me to come and meet urgently for a briefing and gave a date on which I should be in Moscow."When did you learn of Madiba's meeting with Botha?
MM There was a statement released.There was a press statement.
POM So you read it in the press.
MM Press statement that Madiba has met. But my point about it is that by that time I'm already either en route or out of the country.
POM "Moscow told me there was talk that there were talks going on between the regime and Madiba". He wanted a structured discussion.That's in the NEC?
POM In the NEC, to create the conditions that whatever discussions he had had were to be understood as conforming to have taken place within the framework of the Harare Declaration. But he wasn't going to talk about OK, He says they have a problem, "I need to put the Madiba letter before the NEC." Now to PW.He's talking about, "I need to put the Madiba letter of 1988."
MM 1988. Now that's the letter. The three point letter in which he ends up saying there are another ten pages of this.
POM Well the ten pages would be more like the memorandum which was ten pages.
MM I don't know where you're coming with this memorandum from.
POM Because the memorandum is the only document that we have.
MM No, no, no, the letter is the document we have.
POM Where is the letter?
MM At the moment the problem that has arisen is that it is cited in some books and the original which Ayob said he would find, he's not able to find in his hands.
POM The source is - Anthony Sampson is the source for nothing.
MM I'm sorry, I'm sorry, you may not like Anthony
POM No, no, no. He rewrote Mandela's half the sources in his book come from Long Walk to Freedom.
POM Well that's not a biography. He's not credible.
MM You're talking like the Hefer Commission. Mona is not credible therefore the meeting's not
POM No, no, I'm not saying that. I didn't say it didn't take place, I said he's not credible.
MM No, there are certain things in it that are credible.
POM When he agrees with you.
MM Not agrees with me. For example, he says what is in the British Foreign Office records.
POM I'll put March 1988 here. Now why, I want to ask you, would he we have now moved, it's 1989, there's been a meeting of the committee. Shubin says he received this letter a week before.
MM Shubin says he was told.
POM He said, "The documents stating Mandela's position that Tambo had received." Previously you regarded this as the source, well he quotes from it.
MM No, no, wait a minute. It's impossible that OR would show the letter to the Soviets without showing it to the NEC. Impossible.
POM I'll go back and check that out. Let's move on here.
MM What he says here is an important statement. He says, "The ANC President divulged to us the document stating Mandela's position which Tambo had received the previous week."
POM It doesn't say 'letter'.
MM He said 'document'.
POM That's right.
MM A letter is a document.
POM No, this is the only one of Mandela's things listed on that site that is called a 'document', the rest are called 'letters'.
MM You came with a memorandum earlier.
POM No, no, the document, it's called 'the document'. I didn't call it memo, it's a document.
MM I give up.
POM That's good.I gave you a copy of the document. I sent it to you. Of the document that Mandela prepared for
MM You never sent that to me. I've seen that in other books.
POM You saw it a minute ago. I had it on the website.
MM No, sorry, it's not despatched to me.
POM No, it's called what there? It's called a document.
MM Memorandum, document, a letter is called in the libraries a document also.
POM OK. On the ANC site it's called a document. The other things in 1989 that are listed on that site from Mandela say 'letter to'. Only once it is called a document.
MM What is the content of the one that's called a letter to PW?
POM It doesn't mention the letter, that document.
MM What is the letter to? You say the others - ?
POM None of them are to PW.
MM Padraig, we are now, I have to tell you openly, we are now at crisis point because your statement in paragraph one says, "So that was not the reason he was asking to see you."
POM No I did not, I said, "Now Mac would not have known of the meeting of July 5th on his way out." OK, you have to check that. I'm quite prepared to accept that some letter was discussed. We don't know which one until I see some
MM No I can't, I cannot accept that.
POM Well let us go beyond that and leave it and come back to it.
MM I cannot go beyond that, Padraig. I cannot go beyond that because it actually puts my whole credibility at issue.
MM It does. Here's your statement here, you said, "Mac, you were asked to come out well before Mandela's memo. So that was not the reason why he was asking you to come out."
POM In the previous thing, this is when you're talking about the letter going around, it's a letter from Madiba, it's in July, it just when Madiba is meeting with PW.
MM Where do you come with July from?
POM Well did you give me no date?
MM Yes I gave you no date.
POM Well now we're setting dates.
MM No, it is before I exit for Moscow. You are suddenly coming up with a version
POM No, Mac.
MM Come here, let's talk business. I'm in Moscow in July. I returned, this is July 1989, I returned in February 1990. I'm out of the country in that period. In the meantime this whole incident with Valli and them and the UDF, that becomes now it didn't happen.
POM Who says?
MM No, that's what it becomes because if there was no letter in my hands when would this incident have taken place?
POM I'm not disagreeing but what I'm saying is
MM You see as I understand it, Valli and everybody say this incident never happened.
POM Let's just proceed with March 1988 and I'll have to go back and check whatever check I have to do. Let's not get stuck on that. We now at 'my travel arrangements', we have to go back to the other previous chapter but let's say just proceed. "I'm in Moscow, I'm at the meeting. Because the structure, he says to me, 'I have a problem, I have to put the letter from Mandela to PW, the March 1988 letter, before the National Executive'." Now you read the letter carefully - all the way down.
MM Just there, either all that is lies or it's the truth.
POM Mac we're accepting it and we're moving along.
MM No, no, we cannot. I'm serious about this because I did get annoyed when I began to read this section because after I read the comments of Valli and them, your version, then your version here I found that, no, what had happened here is an issue of the integrity of the person.
POM Do you see anything you disagree with here?
MM No, no, that's not a question of disagreement. Padraig, till now you have not shown me your comments. You have not shown me your comments that you sent to the publisher. I've accepted that. You have only given me what I say. You've never shown me what you say. Is that true?
POM That's true.
MM Now when you put statements like this
POM Which one?
MM Like this one, "So that was not the reason he was asked to see."
POM No we've gone past that.
MM No we haven't, Padraig, because here it is back here.
POM No, no, you've changed it as you go along.
MM No, Padraig, these two paragraphs, that OR says, "I want you to come to Lusaka to the NEC meeting", is premised on a letter existing.
POM That's right. I said up here the March 1988 letter. I'm going to amend that, OK?
MM No, but Padraig, I'm saying this has happened too many times now.
POM It's my purpose to query everything.
MM You may have your purpose to query but there's a purpose also that I am to know. I cannot be fighting ghosts. If I don't know what you are saying, how do I counter it? How do I counter it?
POM Mac, what I have to say is not trying to take your account of anything apart. That is why I pay so much attention to making sure that no-one, but no-one can ever attack anything that you say. I am protecting your integrity. No, we're looking at a reviewer, we're looking at a publisher.
MM A reviewer will be reviewing your work, it's your integrity, not mine. There are two separate issues.
POM Listen, I established when you were in Moscow, I established that you were there on the 2nd, not you. You had yourself in the country in one of your hideouts. I went back and I checked it because I wanted to make absolutely sure as to where you were.
MM Because I'm not busy writing, I'm talking to you off the cuff.
POM And I'm checking everything and I come back to you when I see an inconsistency and I say, Mac, we've got to check this out, go back in your mind. You've gone back in your mind.
MM But you check, you don't question my integrity, you question whether the memory is correct.
POM You have one chapter that is devoted to why an internal that Madiba is selling out. You do that. You move from that, a letter, right over and you're in Moscow talking to OR. We've got to establish. Now we have established when that letter was. Before we had not established it. In any version so far we have not established it.
MM Listen, Padraig, the question was you can go into all the details that you want as an historian, the central question was why am I in Moscow, why does OR want me in Lusaka?
POM Fine, I asked the question.
MM Right, now here it says it's on the basis that there's a letter, otherwise there is no need for me to surface in Lusaka. It makes OR, JS, everybody just useless people at operations.
POM Mac, you should go back and read the earlier versions of yourself.
MM That's why I saw the inconsistency when you drew my attention, that's why I'm sitting down from 1985.
POM Good. Now?
MM And in drawing a timeline from 1985 what I find is a huge discrepancy where the authorities that we are using put it down and you find three of those references that I've quoted. I've quoted to you and I haven't given it, I said to you, I say there is a reference to March 1988 a letter. There is a reference to January where he's discussing the content, briefing Walter. Then there is August 1988 Mandela writes to PW. That doesn't seem to exist. But then comes this memo of 1989. I'm saying whatever there's a repetition of the same issues, the content ones. The point is that the letter was sent by us whatever Ayob says, whatever Valli Moosa says, and whatever anybody else says.
POM That's fine.
MM Now that's where I stand. The details of dates and sequences when one is recalling off the cuff I've never sat down with you to say, oh next week I'm going to discuss this; you told me to sit down and make notes now in writing. I spoke to you off the cuff. Now when locating it in the time schedules, yes, we come to this. But one thing we do not get round is the fact that Madiba wrote to PW and I set it out before I went to Moscow.
POM Good. OK. We're moving now from that point and accepting it. OK?
MM OK. We'll see.
POM You couldn't have known of the meeting on 5 July, you were on your way out, so now we're talking about the letter of 1988. So you're in Moscow. Now any paragraph there that you a problem with? "He said to me, I have a problem. I need to put the PW Botha letter", and I've written down the March 1988 letter in my notes here. OK? "before the National Executive. I want you to read it and go through it." Have you any problem as you go on?
POM "Before I left Moscow I had to go and arrange how to get to London." I went back and you had yourself going to see OR on your way over. But I went back and I checked on it because I was doing the checking of the dates and the times and then you said, "Oh yes, that's right", but you know what? It's probably on the way back. That's why I check.
MM I've done the same thing as the timeline.
POM Good. Now Shubin said buy a one-way ticket.
MM That's the other confusion, Simon Makana. That first time when I'm there to meet OR and them, that time I never returned. It's at the end of that period when I've got now to force my way with the British that I then go, that Simon sees me. The next time I go to him openly.
POM Because you're on your way back. What happens then, I then see you want to make a reference to the legend there because you hadn't seen him before? Or leave it as it is? It's just complicated.
MM And it's not relevant.
POM Showing that he couldn't be selling out but that was not the issue. That goes to other things because the matter certainly compounded the problem. Is that kind of generally correct? You said Allan Boesak talked about the rumours in the Cape but the letter hadn't reached the Western Cape. There was a general aura that exists from the time
MM No it wasn't so strong, Padraig. This story about Madiba selling out, there are two points in his life where this thing arises. The first time it arises is before the Rivonia arrest, after his trip through Africa. There rumours are that he's become a narrow African nationalist. Right? That one, it always lingered from time to time but it was disposed of because by the time of the Rivonia trial no issue arose that Madiba had changed from a broad, progressive nationalist position to a PAC nationalist position.
The second one, that he is selling out while he is a prisoner, when it arises I don't know but we come across it when I come out and that's at the end of 1977 when I'm in Lusaka.
POM That's when you address the guys with OR, you address the guys.
MM The first time, yes, December 16th.
POM That's when you wanted to do the Release Mandela thing and the guys said
MM That meeting of 5 December, the internal. That's the first time I become aware of it because over that leaflet when I asked people to explain what's the problem, inside the meeting, outside the meeting, then I hear these stories. That coincides with OR, who was not at that meeting, suddenly on 16 December sending his driver to pick me up and call me to deny it. Now that makes it clear that there have been these rumours but those rumours were around the Lusaka Manifesto of 1976. Remember, the Zambian state and a couple of others issued a manifesto over Ian Smith, over Rhodesia. That Lusaka Manifesto is the period around which the ANC is now being given a hard time in Zambia and rumours go out that, no, Madiba is for that type of solution.
POM The Lusaka Manifesto was between? 1976?
MM It was issued when I was in prison. It would be 1975/1976.
POM And who were party to it?
MM It would have arisen out of the talks with the Ian Smith regime and then some of the African states. I'll just check this one thing in the meantime, the Lusaka Manifesto.
POM Was Kaunda in that? He would have been.
POM Kaunda, Kenneth Kaunda.
MM Kaunda, yes. In the period immediately before and after the Morogoro conference what became as the era of the Lusaka Manifesto, the ANC was faced with new and worrying development. Some independent African states proposed compromises with the Pretoria regime at the expense of the ANC. The Lusaka Manifesto on South Africa was approved by the conference of the Eastern and Central African states in Lusaka in April 1969. The signatories confirmed that the liberation of southern Africa was their aim while stating their readiness to normalise relations with colonial and racist regimes. They would urge the liberation movement 'to desist from their armed struggle' if those regimes recognised 'the principle of human equality' and the right to self determination.
Now it is around this period that the story grew up that Madiba had been brought to State House.
POM To Kaunda's State House? Magically transported.
MM You see post this is when the ANC is virtually expelled from Zambia and where OR takes the decision that we are not - like normally if we were told by an African state to leave we would talk and we would leave, but this time he said we'd go into the bush. So he went into a defiance mode, said we would hang on, we would survive even if the Zambian government treats us as the ANC. So the Lusaka Manifesto opened up an era that was extremely difficult for the ANC because the Eastern and Central and Southern African states said we will encourage them to desist from the armed struggle as long as the colonial regime just acknowledges the principle of human equality. Now that's critical.
POM What page is that?
MM Page 96.
POM I'll be able to incorporate that earlier on. I'll take what you said now and I'll move it into the chapter where you're in Lusaka and you're asked to address the guys. It'll give it context.
MM The ANC by that time had just pulled back its position in Zambia but the membership has been living in this rumour atmosphere. You see, I can imagine some of the African states when OR is criticising them even if it's in a closed room, implying that, "Look, OR, your recalcitrance and commitment to the armed struggle, we have been having discussions with other top people of the ANC, they don't have your position." "Who are you talking about?" And gently, "We know, we know", and rumours come back it's Mandela. So that's where it comes out that Mandela is selling out. Now that's a different form of a sell-out, he's selling out, he's abandoning the principles on which we are standing and it is that period that the South African regime is pushing with Bantustan independence and is saying that is a recognition of equality. In fact what it's doing is, when he says here, "As long as they recognise the principle of human equality and the right to self determination." Pretoria says, "What's it? Transferring? That's self determination, and the two, equality, independence. So we're for it. So what's your problem?"So, Jesus, that's fucked up our whole concept of the South African liberation struggle if these countries accept South Africa's explanation in term of this word.So the Lusaka Manifesto was a very, very critical one.
POM And that too would have made the debate in the prison more acrimonious in the sense that when you had Mandela and you and Walter saying we should consider working from within rather than ignoring them altogether, that's like Mac is saying we're accepting
MM Oh there you are, you're accepting.
POM That means you're accepting, you're really for this whole thing of
MM Your true agenda is that you would agree with that story.
POM So then you're kind of winding back down. So that would be getting out too in messages that Govan would be sending out, that Mandela is
MM We've sort of established that messages were not going out. One message that had caused a problem is the so-called letter from the High Organ and the report of the High Organ. Other than that it appears that prohibition on communications was by and large adhered to. There was no record on the party side of having received any other communications.
POM Not directly from the party but he would be getting messages Harry was sending messages out.
MM Harry would be living in a different circumstance because in the main cells that sort of decision was never taken about communications. And secondly Harry was living in an environment where people were serving one year, two years, five years.
POM Harry could be easily communicating with Govan.
POM So what I am saying is if you had Govan who was kind of apoplectic about the issue to the point of where he didn't want to debate it or on the curriculum, no that was Mayibuye. I love that story.
MM OK. Your comment here is, the issue as I read it is that rumours re Mandela had been circulating for some time.
POM Yes because you're saying you talked to Boesak and Boesak was saying, "Yes, down here we hear those rumours too", but he hadn't seen any letter.
MM But he had said that Madiba was negotiating. Now that couldn't be linked -
POM I'll check with him.
MM He used Mandela's letter as a means of showing that he couldn't be selling out. The letter itself was not the issue. To me the letter was the issue because here is a letter that says what Madiba is thinking. It's not what others are saying that Madiba is thinking. This is from Madiba saying this is what I'm saying and you have to decide on the basis of that, either you say yes he's that and I disagree with what he's saying and that it constitutes a sell-out, or you say, oh what he's saying here is not the truth. That's the only way you can sustain the sell-out. So matters re circulation compounded the problem but were not sources of the problem. So you see you are conflating the long term old stories. Now Pallo has no memory.
POM You had to relocate, there was a bit of contact here and there, running contact. That's Tim.
MM But this is from me about Pallo, isn't it? I'm telling you this about Pallo because I discussed it with Pallo.
POM I also saw him at the cinema. I'm just saying he has no memory of it.
MM He's gone a little further.
POM Who else was in it? Who else was at the meeting?
MM The NEC was made up of about 20 members.
POM I know, I can get them up on the thing. I'm trying to think of who. Was Ronnie on that committee then? Not until later? He would have been because the NEC
MM NEC for Kabwe. Yes he would be on it. He would be at the meeting, I would assume he would be at the meeting because he was at that time heading Military Intelligence. It's not an issue that people like Valli who say they can't remember, it's not a question that they are lying, it's a simple question that conditions moved so fast in that period that almost like some prisoners who
POM Valli is not saying that it didn't happen. What he is saying is that he has no specific memory of it but it could have happened. So he's not saying, no, no, no, that never happened.
MM That's what makes me worried about Valli. If a chap said to me, "I turned a corner, full stop", I have no problem, but if I say to Valli, "Wait a minute, I met you at the Constantia Mall, Momo went and brought you and it was late afternoon and this was the issue and he says, 'Ah, yes, I remember meeting at the Constantia Mall. I have no memory this way or that way', I wouldn't take a chance of meeting Valli out of escaping from fucking prison and I am sitting here meeting a chap in an open restaurant. I think that's reckless. I am taking a chance because I'm on my way to Durban, it's become an urgent. I've sent Momo on two missions once I've heard from him. One is to go to find if there is any information and that letter turns up. Then I say, "Shit! Here's the problem, it's a dealable problem; get Valli for me." Now the reason why I didn't ask for Jay Naidoo is my contact with Jay Naidoo was always via Durban. Jay Naidoo and I never met in Johannesburg, again for security reasons. Now similarly as I would never meet Sydney Mufamadi in Cape Town because the moment I start doing things like that my lifespan is gone. So I took a conscious decision saying, "Momo, go and fetch him, I haven't got time to go and arrange a safe place, but bring him to Constantia Mall on the first floor, there's an open deck and there's a restaurant there and we'll sit down outside." So this is my memory and I'm saying Valli's is the one answer that has got a certain disingenuity about it. It's a play safe answer whether the issue was too big, but I accept one thing that in relation to Madiba many, many people have somersaulted and all of that is in memory blocked.
You then ask the other question. After the NEC meeting I had to relocate my family into Brighton. Yes, they were relocated there but Zarina is already in Brighton. She first got accommodation in a one bed-roomed flat.
POM I'm just saying that when you were on your way through London you went through to Brighton.
MM The first time I met them in London. Then they went over to Brighton, she enrolled, she got a campus flat. I visited her also at the campus flat and after that the decision was made that she would try to buy a place more convenient to the children's schooling. So that's what I meant, 'relocate' means I took whatever furniture, goods whatever.
MM I spent most of my time in Brighton in the following months. There was a bit of contact here and there, running contacts with home via Tim Jenkin. I mean with Ivan, with the whole operation.
POM In contact with Ivan, OK. How would you do that? Would you go to London to Tim Jenkin?
MM Tim Jenkin, I would be able to phone him.
POM Would you phone him directly? From?
MM Yes, from Brighton, a call box. I could talk to Ivan on the phone.
POM On your own phone?
MM Yes. If I went to London I would drop in on Tim and sit and chat with him.
POM Would they have any kind of wondering why you are in London? Would they say, "Mac, what are you doing here?"
MM No, Tim wouldn't have that problem. I wouldn't go and meet the ANC openly. I was not going to meetings and all that sort of thing. If I went to London I would go to Tim at his flat. But the point I'm making is that (I was) living a life outside of the public eye but it was also an environment where I was like on holiday. So they didn't have to start referring every problem to me. Interestingly I met Janet Love because I say here, "Gebhuza was in sole charge of Vula for this period." I had no contact with him. You say, "By the time you got back the ball game had changed, the ANC was unbanned. Where were you when you resigned from the ANC over the appointment of the interim leadership?" Accounts drawn, I'm agreed we have to sort out timeline, I'm working on that. I met Janet Love. I said to Janet - we were in touch also.
POM You were in touch with her.
MM So I tried to get her memory the other day. I am already becoming extremely vague. She says it is not as if I was leaving here and said I'm leaving for six months. I'm leaving for a short trip abroad, back soon. So when I'm coming back was just open-ended, any time, could come back any time. Now I said to her, "Where were you operating from?" Because Gebhuza was in Durban.
POM Where did you see her? You saw her.
POM She was in Jo'burg?
POM Sorry, you said you saw Janet Love.
POM Sorry, I thought you were saying when you were in London.
MM I saw her the other day, Saturday. Let's get a timeline, let's get the memory right. I left on the basis that Gebhuza was now the commander. Good, Lusaka has been told he's the commander. He has the communication methods, this is how you handle the communications with Lusaka. Janet was assisting with the communications but she used to be based in Jo'burg. When I'm in Durban and I need to communicate I would handle it separately and use people like Soraya to go and transmit. Sometimes I would transmit, sometimes Gebhuza. Now the question arose with Janet; what did you remember of that six months? Cagey.Do you know whether Gebhuza met Ramaphosa, Frank Chikane, Smalgaliso Makhatshwa, Sydney Mufamadi? She says she doesn't think so because he came to Jo'burg on a few occasions but they were mainly around issues of Little John coming here and fixing a house or collecting arms, etc., from outside. of Cyril, Sydney, Chikane, Smalgaliso to look at the question of Madiba's release and how to handle that release when it comes. I was going out with the view that I'm out for a month, I wouldn't pass it over and say to Gebhuza, you handle this yourself, this is what you do, because that was the sort of direction these people would be able to handle on their own. It was merely a question of keeping informed. If I was going out for a month, month and a half, I wouldn't bother to transfer that to Gebhuza. Janet would know because she would know what I was reporting to Lusaka, she was typing. She says, no, she doesn't think that such meetings took place.
Second, I put the next question to her, Sydney and Gebhuza? Again her answer to that was that she doesn't think so. And the reason why Sydney was involved in my question was that would be the head of the Jo'burg District Committee of the Communist Party. Now I didn't pass over Communist Party work to Gebhuza. When I said I'm making him commander of Operation Vula, I meant the military, political structure that the ANC was running. Gebhuza was not part of the decisions about the party. In my mind there was no mandate like that. So her answer was she doesn't think, she doesn't recall.
POM Now was Gebhuza a member of the party?
MM A member of the party.
POM But he wasn't - ?
MM Nowhere in the leadership structure, not in the leadership structures, not even in the District Committee of Mozambique. And it would have been improper for me to just take him and bump him up now to put him privy to all the party activities around the country. I would keep him briefed as a party member of party activities. I would use him and share with him fully distributing party propaganda but I wouldn't be discussing the other issues. So that issue arose there.
Janet's answer was surprising, it's the only thing that clarified for me that none of us knew how long I was going to be abroad, that on my original departure it was assumed that I would be back in about a month's time and the assumption in the communication was that Zarina and the children would be able to come over to Moscow and have a month's holiday with me. How wrong everybody was, was (a) how ill she was, the extent of her injuries, and (b) the need now to shift to the UK, not just shift and live in a flat and have nothing to do, but (a) to have an income and to do something with it and relocate the kids. And she was not in a position to just handle it herself. I just left the house like that, it's on rent and I think we were paying a huge rental.
POM This is in Brighton or in London?
MM In Lusaka. We had rented a house because she was paid by (her employer) so there was a huge rental, it's a house that had so many rooms that two or three of the rooms were used for Operation Vula, communications, etc., and it was a secure yard. Now with her accident she just had to up first she's in hospital, comes out, within a day or two she's in Harare for several months, from there she returns to Lusaka, within a week she's in Moscow for four months. On her return from Moscow she needs to be near medical treatment and she decides she's going to go to London, she has specialists there. Right, "I'm going to start studying at Sussex and I'm going to have a flat there, have the children there and put them in school." And Mac comes out to help her.
So that's what prolonged the period. But once that prolongation started comes Walter and thems release, I'm not in the loop, I'm not going to Lusaka for the meetings. But OR had his stroke, insecurity from that side. Development at home, somebody's got to be assessing and OR is not there to make the judgement decisions. In fact making Nzo Acting President now meant that either Nzo would be taking those decisions as OR couldn't, which I don't think OR was capable of doing, because he was still insecure. Secondly, was he discussing it with Slovo, with Thabo? Where was he discussing these things on an on-the-go, ball by ball event? Walter and them get released.
POM Just in terms of who was - in that situation there would be, besides this sudden kind of shift in leadership, OR has always struck me as somebody that when there was a problem he'd kind of say, I'll take care of it, leave it to me, and he always managed things in that way besides his strategic instincts. Now you have a man who doesn't have the intellectual capabilities, doesn't have the strategic capabilities, doesn't have that capacity. OR had his hands on so many things there's no way Nzo could come in and say, OK I'll take over all these things.
POM Who would he, in term of his own relationships in the NEC or the party, who would he likely turn to? Who would he consult with?
MM I think Nzo would have turned to Thabo, turned to Joe Nhlanhla, he may have to turned to Josiah Jele, the PMC, he would have turned to Slovo.
POM But Jele was useless, right?
MM No, but I'm talking about -
POM Who he turned to, yes.
MM In his mind.
POM Was he close in any way to Slovo? Nzo? Did they have a relationship?
MM Oh yes, Nzo was close to but it was not the type of relationship that OR had.
POM I'm trying to get a sense of a man who's thrust into a position and suddenly the whole everything starts to happen at once, so besides him being able to get his hands on what the job was about he's got all these developments suddenly enveloping him.
MM Yes. You see - and even his being made Acting President, he's the most senior official, he's Secretary General. Right, you're the Acting President. On one side he would be awed by the responsibility but on the other side he would be somewhat cavalier about that responsibility because the whole task of managing as a president is something that he never even entertained and he had lived his life now when he became Secretary General being guided by OR. Suddenly he's got to take the decisions himself. I didn't get the impression, certainly when I was outside for that six months, while Slovo came and told me that Nzo was Acting President and that therefore he is now privy to Vula
POM He told you that in London? He came to London?
MM He would have told me on one of my trips, wherever we met, or I would have read the ANC news briefings that now he's the Acting President and therefore I would assume that he and Nzo are now discussing Vula as well. I would expect that Joe would go and brief him to say, "You're the Acting President now, there is a task that I was discharging with the President, nobody knows, but I cannot go on discharging it without you knowing it", because Joe wouldn't have an independent line to access even funds, he couldn't go to the Treasurer General, he'd have to go to the Acting President. So I would assume that he would have told him and in that context my impression is that now these were the two in charge but never did it reach a point where it said, hey listen, before you go home a meeting needs to take place between Nzo, you and Slovo. Nobody said to me, even if Nzo was passing through London, and Nzo didn't even say, hey, Mac is in Brighton, when I'm passing through London let me find out from Joe what's his telephone number, phone him and say to him can we meet and can I get a sense of what's happening at home? That didn't happen. So Nzo gives me the impression that he took over the presidency in just a laid back way, whatever is happening happens.
POM Are you sure Joe ever briefed him about Vula?
MM Yes, yes. All I'm saying is that this was a totally new ballgame and it would have arisen with a bit of time. First the assumption, let's see what's happening to OR. But while OR is beginning to recover a bit of his speech, Sisulu and them are released. What the hell's happening now? What's the meaning of this? Who would Nzo be meeting daily? Who would Nzo be in regular telephonic conversation with?Two people, Thomas Nkobi and Thabo. Why Thabo? Thabo was head of International Affairs, Nzo was busy always on the international circuit and always in touch with Thabo. So he would say, as long as I'm in touch with Thabo I know what's happening. And these are people that he would bump into every day because they would function when they were in Lusaka from the ANC head office. They would function in any city in any country from the ANC office. But the Slovos wouldn't function from the ANC offices, they dropped in onto the ANC office casually. Their offices where they were working day to day were in other places in Lusaka. The PMC was not located at the head office, the military headquarters was not at the head office. They were in different houses. So those are the people that he'd meet casually and bump into them. You'd bump into Nzo when you went to the head office and that was provided Nzo was in town that day. But in the meantime Thabo, Nzo, Nkobi could be meeting daily because their operating premises were the head office. Slovo, Modise, Josiah Jele, Nhlanhla, their operating office was different. The only reason why I say Nhlanhla and Nzo would be because Nhlanhla was (break in recording)
POM Linked to intelligence was he?
MM Yes. So he was the man who was brought to Lusaka as the Administrative Secretary by Nzo from the All African People's Organisation in Cairo, then an external front, and Nhlanhla became that and from there he became Secretary of the PMC. So he had very close contact with Nzo and he had an official reason to be in touch with the Secretary General because he's the Secretary of the PMC and he's got to liaise with the Secretary of the ANC. But people like Joe, both Joe Modise and Slovo, they didn't have that need for daily communication with Nzo. So when you ask who, I say at that stage with OR out of action, Nzo would be talking closest to Thabo, Nkobi, less frequently Slovo, Modise, Jele. On the other side people meeting more frequently on the home front side would be Modise, Jele, Slovo, Nhlanhla, seeing each other more often, but on Vula the whole thing was now sitting in it because there it's JS and Ivan and I don't think he meets with Ivan. How many times did he meet Nzo? Because I think you would find that Ivan probably met Nzo only once whereas if you ask Ivan how many times did he meet OR on Operation Vula all the time.
POM All the time.
MM All the time.
POM OK, that's good. I'm trying to get a picture here, here you have Nzo, these things are happening, the Nats are back in power. What's his name is making overtures with De Klerk.
MM Walter and them are released.
POM Walter is then released. This guy's head is spinning. In what direction would he be moving?
MM Moving in the direction which I believe that there was no change. There was no change to the fundamental position which said well there was, I think there was no change once the Harare Declaration had reached its first point, that is it had been adopted by the frontline states. At the time I met OR in Moscow it hadn't happened. What was pending was that the frontline states were now going to take the Harare Declaration to the OAU and we know that the OAU adopted it on 21 August. The OAU was going to take the Harare Declaration to the UN.
POM Which they did.
MM Which they did and which the UN adopted. But at each stage there were slight modifications, none of it substantive. So I'm saying by the time I am exiting here the Harare Declaration had been adopted by the frontline states but also even if it wasn't
POM At the time you're exiting?
MM To go to Moscow.
POM To go to Moscow on your way out to meet OR?
MM To meet OR. But even if it wasn't adopted by that stage it was the draft that OR had put anew to the frontline and he had told them that this is the declaration. The aim is we drafted the Harare Declaration, we're taking it to the Harare meeting, we want to get the frontline states to adopt it. Once they have adopted it we want them to take it to the OAU. When the OAU adopts it we want the OAU to take it to the UN but never do we want it to be perceived as an ANC position. We want it to acquire the image of frontline states' position, then an OAU position and then a UN position. OR was very, very skilful at that because he was saying while we've drafted it we want to keep this quiet, what we would appear to be doing is we are supporting a position. But he was also saying, I have the right at any stage to disagree with that position on particulars.
So that position at the Harare Declaration was very tense. Its starting grid was cessation or stimulus as part of creating the climate for negotiations. So, what was my mandate? You're not going to start ceasing activities until there's been a formal cessation. The release of Walter Sisulu, it brings the preconditions nearer to happen but they haven't happened. When I asked Joe (Slovo) what happens, he says, "Listen, you'd better get back home as fast as possible, we need you there." He says, "Make sure that your family is settled and all the major issues are resolved and head back." Sisulu and them get released I say, "Does this change what happens?""No, please proceed. We want you home."
So you say, "By the time you got back the ballgame had changed, the ANC is unbanned (I'm still outside), and where were you when you resigned from the ANC?" I would resign over the interim inside the country. That's why I'm now looking for The Sowetan or Post in that period.
POM "I went back to Lusaka on at least two occasions." One of them would have been to?
MM The NEC meeting.
POM Went back. OK. Sorry I'm using back as taking three occasions. So there's just two occasions.
MM It could easily be three.
POM One was to move and one was to meet with JS and Ronnie.
MM One was the NEC meeting, moving and Ronnie. I could have collapsed the things but there's a whole gap on these things because I'm living in a funny world. Zarina has just gone and the house is just standing like that and I've got to sort out all those things. I can't just go and say, right, we pack up and we move all the goods to an address in Brighton. In Brighton what she's got is a tiny little one-roomed flat where she and the children are sleeping and that's it, a student flat and a kitchenette and a bathroom. So you can't move because you've got to decide which way to go and part of that decision is you've got to depend on what income there is because we just haven't got the money. So my decision, the decision to give up the Lusaka place was also not like saying I'll just hire the cartage contractors. I had to go and pack up myself, make the boxes, seal them up, get the cartage people to come and take them to the airport. Then OK, the cartage people deliver it to the UK and then by that time we've found a place in the UK and I moved her into that place before I left.
POM Now what was it like when you're in Brighton and settling the family? Going through your mind, it's a completely different world. You're now getting things out of boxes, setting up the house, looking after the kids. Is your mind all there or is it also in South Africa? Do you know what I mean?
MM My mind is in South Africa but I'm not able to discuss it with anybody because any discussion starts giving names and places. I wouldn't be able to discuss it with Zarina because she's not well, she needs treatment, she's got her university, we've got to get the children into school and Milo was not put into school for six months.
POM Yes, that was - the Council was (a problem).
MM In the meantime finding a place with sufficient space and near enough to schools so that within her health she could manage taking the children to school and going to varsity. So looking at all that as one sort of problem and I'm clear I've got to do this, I can't just leave her and walk away. About home, Ivan and them were not saying there's any major problems. About the tactics to be used, they are discussing it in Lusaka, they are communicating it to Ivan and to Gebhuza. No problem. If there's need to reach Madiba, no problem, the mechanism is available, they just have to ask me or they have to check, maybe I've left it with Gebhuza, the mechanism.
POM Now when Gebhuza comes in, Gebhuza is doing his communications, would he do them directly from Lusaka because remember you said there was a crack up over when Soraya's voice came on. Was he sending his messages, he wasn't sending them from Durban to Johannesburg was he? He was sending them from Durban to London?
MM No, he transmitted from Durban to London. London decrypted it.
POM And sent it to Lusaka.
MM Re-encrypted it and sent it to Lusaka.
POM In terms of Janet's communications, would Janet be separately communicating?
POM So in a way that end of the communications business went silent?
MM Only if Gebhuza said to her, "Janet", he's in Jo'burg, "Come, here's a message, will you transmit it."
POM Because what I'm getting to and it refers to when you came back and you were heading for what I'm coming to is when the Security Police raided the flat and found the unencrypted tapes. What is going through my mind is this is not something he had done while you were away for this two weeks but while you were away for six months he had gotten into the habit of just not encrypting things, period. So it wasn't something that he just did for those two weeks.
MM There are two problematics about that issue, one is his relationship with Susan. The fact that Susan may have been working for him in the military as his secretary did not mean that she would automatically be made secretary of Vula like Janet.(a) I discussed it intensely with Gebhuza, (b) I looked at the qualities, what do we need in such a person? One, technically and typing-wise, technically someone to type fast, understand the computer technology, be able to transmit it herself whether using the portable phone, whether giving Ayob's side or any place, but able to move about because we were not Now Susan's qualities can she type? I don't know. Would she be able to move around on her own? No. She was out there, a fixed secretary that he used in an office but what we needed was a Janet type of person. So Gebhuza assumed
POM So whereas Janet would have been absolutely
MM And had been trained.
POM - to encrypt everything, Susan
MM And all that he would have had to do is say that, hey, Mac is not coming back, Janet, will you relocate to Durban?
POM But he didn't.
MM He didn't. He seemed to have and worse, he seemed to have given her the task, or maybe he did do the decrypting himself because he hadn't shown her how to encrypt but later unencrypted.
POM So when you would get messages and Janet would unencrypt them and give them to you, if you had a reply or whatever, would you give everything back to her to encrypt or would you do that yourself?
MM The things would have to be in my safekeeping but I would give it to her to do, I would give it to her. This is one of the things in my brusque way I clarified with Janet the day we incorporated her into Vula because she had come in separately. When Lusaka linked me to her and said can we draw her in, I met her. The question was what work would she be doing? She told me. How far have you progressed? She told me. Now what are your lines of reporting? She's reporting directly, I say, no, you've got a message you may be sharing with somebody, that somebody is me. I want to incorporate you but I want to be very clear, your separate lines of communication
MM They have to. If you're going to maintain it I don't need you. I'm not going to have a structure living inside the enemy's belly and each one is reporting on their own and doing their own thing because they've got separate instructions. Right, no, I told Janet, never. That had to be agreed. Then I said to her everything that she's been doing now, that's over, because she was getting propaganda texts, distributing it a little bit, making her own contacts and I said that task is over. "Now I want you to come and start working as part of the staff at Vula's command structure. You're now no longer running a unit. Your job is not to put out propaganda. Here is your full time job."
POM Now Susan was recruited from?
MM Outside. She was working for the military side. What I didn't know is that Gebhuza was having an affair with her in the comfort of the underground.
POM We're down to, there were the follow up meetings. You turned up in Lusaka a couple of times, people would say, "Hey Mac, Jesus! Are you recovered? You're back, you're with us?"
MM A funny thing about exile and life in Zambia, once they didn't see you at the head office and at the PMC office and the military head office and you just had to walk with a walking stick, everybody accepted that you are secret.
POM Everybody accepted?
MM That you are secret and nobody came to you to ask you, your power was gone. It's like you had no power.
POM You're gone.
MM It was first dramatised when I asked Moscow for a visa to enter Britain, the Chief Representative wouldn't do anything.
POM So when you came back to Lusaka you still were on the stick?
MM I would be walking not well. How are you? Recovering. Comrade Shooter would pick me up at the airport. "How's things?" "Oh I'm recovering." By the time Shooter had dropped me and returned to
POM Who picked you up?
MM Shooter. And by the time he has gone home and slept and got up all the people that he has seen en route wherever my name cropped up is that he's back from hospital, he's recovering from drugs, he's quite beaten down.
POM So you went into the NEC meeting and met all these guys, they haven't seen you now for two years, what was their reaction?
MM How are you? Not well. What's happening? Taking a break from the treatment, came here to see the family. Because Zarina has had this accident I'm helping her to relocate.
POM So when you start talking about the letter which you say most of them hadn't even bothered to read, you're somebody who's been out of their loop for 18 months and suddenly you're giving all this interpretation.
MM Three quarters of the people at the meeting might have been saying, hey, nobody's listening to this guy. What does he know that we don't? We know more. Quite possible. My need to be in Lusaka had been decided by OR. Clearly he had an idea how he was going to use me at the meeting.
POM But he wasn't there.
MM He wasn't there.
POM The plan that he had in mind went out.
MM I don't think it featured in Joe's mind. Nzo wouldn't know and the others listening to me say, having watched me would have said, ah! What's he talking about, what does he know? Oh he's making an analysis of what the letter says. Shit man, we can read the letter, so what. It would have been of no consequence. Sure it would be of consequence with a person like Joe Modise because whatever Joe was and whatever his problems there was one thing about Joe Modise and that was a spontaneity. He was not one of those manipulators who could dissimulate. You saw his feelings right there in his body language. There was no diplomacy, there was a straightness about him. If he thought you were selling out he would tell you you're selling out and half an hour later if he thought you're not selling out he will change his position just like that.
POM What I wanted to get at in all of this is I want the reader to be able to follow what the absence of OR meant in that period of flux and that you were arriving there when everything was in the process of change and you didn't know whether OR was coming back or not coming back or what was happening.
MM Where's the pecking order now?
POM And OR had so many things close to his chest that a lot of people must have felt, "Gee, my problem is never going to get attended to because the only person who knows about it is OR."
MM Exactly. Intelligence, the rule was you report through the President. Intelligence never appeared at an NEC meeting to give a report, they reported to the President.
Then the next paragraph raises the question the big scare. I left out the name of the comrade mainly because there's nothing wrong with the guy, I think he's still alive, Ronnie Press. I think he's now a professor, or retired. He had taken over while Tim was out of town, out of London, and Ronnie was another innovator in the communications side but he and I never met. If we met we may have met once. Ronnie is manning the station and he hears this voice. To him it's a strange voice, it's not the voice that he had heard previously, and straightaway to him the enemy has penetrated the network. Remember Ronnie was a treason trialist in 1956, he was Secretary of the Textile Workers Union in the legal days. He left the country in the sixties, he was also a physicist. His idea that we were home was a thing that he had lived for but to imagine the conditions was just something mind boggling. His wife by the way, was a very ill person, she was paralysed. So he never circulated much, he was like a bookworm and an experimenter, making the parcel bombs, the compartments, the propaganda thing, living for home and then the idea that there are comrades who have entered the country and are working from home, communicating in a communications system that he has helped to develop, was all the time - they're going to get caught tomorrow, they're going to get caught any time now. And just that voice comes over and Soraya, (have you met her? Mo's former wife, she's now here, she was working for the Embassy in Rome as Political Secretary).
POM She's now in Johannesburg?
MM Back here.
POM I must go and see her then.
MM She's at Foreign Affairs but she's now at a desk job for the time being.
POM What name is she under?
MM Soraya and she's got like a Malay/coloured accent. Ronnie heard this and to him a strange voice, immediately informs Lusaka, "Look, a stranger is manning that number, I think it's the enemy." Lusaka, and legitimately, what are the precautions you take now? And cut communications, say this, say that, now let's try and reach home in other ways. They've got no other way to reach home. So Ivan was saying, oh shit! I think I can contact PG in an indirect way. I can contact Momo through the party way to find out what's happening. But all that is going to take a bit of time. Nobody has thought - when I am in Lusaka and I asked for it
POM So you went to Lusaka for this?
MM I heard about the problem when I was abroad. Certainly my memory says I was in Lusaka when I asked where is the tape? Or I stopped in London.
POM It's in London that you heard the tape.
MM I heard the tape in London. Yes, because Lusaka didn't have the tape. And you say, how do I do anything from Brighton? Well from Brighton I could speak on the phone, with a call box, get a number, strange phone, and speak to Ivan.
POM Wouldn't Ivan's phone be tapped?
MM Well I would speak to them from different people's phones in Lusaka, not from the phones
POM Sorry, but if you were ringing Ivan.
MM I would say Ivan would go to - take Lusima, take Ivy Casaburri, the Minister of Communications, she was working for the UN, she had a house provided by the UN, Ivan could go to her house and say, "Can I use your phone?"
POM And he would call Brighton?
MM He'd call Brighton.
POM But wouldn't your phone be tapped?
MM I would just tell him, "Call the following call box."
POM But wouldn't they have your phone in Brighton tapped?
MM No, I don't have a phone, I go to a public call box, to trigger.
POM When you were in Brighton did you not assume that your home phone was (tapped)?
MM I didn't even have a home phone, on the campus we didn't have a phone. When we moved into Brighton, into the house in Brighton in Gordon Road I think within a month when I had left the UK, I would go and use call boxes. I would use call boxes and come to an arrangement with Ivan, "Look, I'll call you at Ivy's place. Next time I'll call you at Walter's place." Somebody's place.
Yes, it is in London that I listen to the tape and there I realise this is Soraya's voice.
POM Now wouldn't you have had to be in London to have this exchange?
That's with JS. He said, "The message for me from JS was to proceed as usual."
MM Just read the start of the paragraph.
POM "On 15 October Walter, Kathy" - we've left Soraya, we've dealt with that. I'm just saying how long did this take? How long did the disruption last?
MM Oh it wouldn't have been long. We would have sorted out that disruption within a week. All of us would have been in panic stations that if there's a casualty of that sort at all in our communications the biggest headache would be how do we save the comrades.
POM Next paragraph.
MM Brighton. JS never came to Brighton but he could speak to me on the phone. I could speak to him, I could go to London, it's just a one hour train journey from Brighton.
POM On staying out of the limelight.
MM You say 'out of the picture'. It's correct, I was out of the picture. I would just know that the broad lines, the direction is good.
POM I'll just switch that, I'm not going to say 'out of the picture', this is about five o'clock in the morning and I'm getting pissed off, want to go to bed. Now this paragraph I do have because this is surmise, a conversation between you're saying so what happened with the meeting between, when these guys went to Lusaka? I want to change that around. It's like you're getting into people's heads what they might have said and what other people's responses might have been. Let me go and put it in a more general way as to what most likely was the theme, put it in light of the Harare Declaration. Harare, I'll just put the word Harare there.
MM It's safe to say we were just following the Harare Declaration. The interesting thing is it does not appear that from the time I came out during this visit, Ivan has a different memory, it does not appear that the content of the communication from Lusaka to Gebhuza was maintained at the level that it was maintained by me. And partly that's understandable because unless Gebhuza was constantly raising the problems the way I was raising it, Lusaka wouldn't be responding, but also if OR was not there I doubt they were being attended to. The bigger picture was being just left to
POM You were in maintenance.
MM Maintenance mode. You want to probe this thing, you say that's
POM No I'm saying he's not saying put all your eggs in one basket but probe it. Again it goes back to
MM Well it's the sort of discussion that I also had with Walter in the country.
POM OK, let me put it in that context then.
MM The whole thing is a reconstruction, you're right. It's a reconstruction, a sort of dialogue version of what is happening because the question you raised was, raised earlier, you were saying, "At the time you got back the ballgame had changed." How much had the ballgame changed? I'm partly answering the question but it hadn't changed a lot. It was against the backdrop of the Harare Declaration once adopted by the frontline states, it gave us a position to sit there, to keep everything moving and to keep pushing at the same time now for real negotiations but conditions. We were saying release Mandela, release the political prisoners, then agree to a cessation of hostilities. That's when negotiations take place. Until that point you're not even at a point of truce. Both sides are continuing to mobilise their forces and acting against each other, the war is continuing. So if you at that moment decided to stop on your side unilaterally you're in big trouble, your positions would be overrun so there was no big change in one sense but in another sense extremely historic events were taking place. So this whole thing was to try to say that argument and I think it can be dealt with rather than this way like a meeting is taking place and discussions, it needs to be done as an overview.
POM This way you've said it is far better and rings far you're saying you have two things happening, a huge amount of change at one level and at the other level things just
MM And there's a defensiveness in this formulation such as Nzo can phone Mandela also but what are we getting? It's got to be filtered. Now it's like being defensive because somebody comes and says, listen, Mandela did phone Nzo. So it's implying
POM How long was Mandela being able to communicate by phone?
MM From the time he moved to Victor Verster, shortly after that they allowed him a lot of facilities. He himself was beginning to use them but also would be sparing and he would be exploring also and he would use those things to read them, to read what's significant. I mean the biggest thing for him in his move to Victor Verster is that he knows he's on his way to be released, he now knows he's at a halfway house.
POM Well basically when they start taking him on trips around Cape Town. I love the story of when the guy said, "Do you want a soft drink?" and he's left alone in the car and he says, "Oh Christ, will I run or not? I can do it. I could be gone in a flash." Choice, what do I do?
MM That's one of the most remarkable anecdotes about him. Do you know how many people, Padraig, out of a hundred would in that situation would have taken the chance and run? I bet you more than eighty and out of the twenty that would have kept sitting, not all would have sat because of a strategic reason. Half of them would have sat there because they were paralysed.
In that paragraph where Nzo can phone, you put questions about clandestine communication and I've asked Janet. I've asked Janet, during that period that I was out was there, communication from anyone? She says not that she's aware of. Now Janet had met Ayob, I don't think Gebhuza had, so I will make the assumption that neither was Gebhuza in touch with Madiba.
POM Well that would be difficult from Durban.
MM So that whole paragraph is wrong.
POM Just on the NEC. We have Slovo is obviously discussing with the Politburo and some of the people in the NEC. How would you know that?
MM Simply on the problem of Nzo being Acting President, how would JS be accessing funds?
POM Nzo has to go to?
MM Nzo is all the time on the road travelling. You make the assumption that unlike OR, JS would not know where Nkobi is at any given time.
POM Where Nkobi is or Nzo?
MM OR would know and OR would know if he's told Nkobi is in Canada, within one phone call OR would know which part of Canada he is in and which is the telephone number that he can reach him in the part where he is in Canada, from Newfoundland to Vancouver, whereas Slovo if he wanted to know where is Nkobi and he was told by somebody he's in Canada, to find out which part of Canada he is in would take JS three days. But it would apply also about Nzo, where's Nzo, and that sort of arrangement did not exist yet and I would imagine that JS would straightaway say in this critical situation with OR we've got to create a situation with Nkobi. And then secondly I would find it unbelievable that in that environment JS wouldn't say to a person like Sizakele Sigxashe who was in the NEC, was in the party Central Committee and who was in the Intelligence, where do they contact him? They wouldn't say to Sizakele in discussions at the party offices, Sizakele says, "Joe, what's happening?" Joe would say, "You know we've got to find out from Mac what's happening", would hand him documents on the party side.
Similarly I find it difficult to believe that JS having formed the Politburo where Thabo was there, somebody like Chris would say, "Well what's Mac going to say? What's happening? What are the people on the ground saying?" Because it's an almost bread and butter question, what is the feeling of the people inside the country, what's their line? That's a bread and butter question for every revolutionary. So I would imagine some, but I'm just explaining the conditions.
POM How are your relations with Sigxashe?
MM Good. I saw him about six months ago, but since 1994 I've hardly met him and I know he went through a bad patch where he was in the newspapers for having pointed a firearm at his wife in an argument and she reported it to the police.
POM The legacy of apartheid. Why I was asking was that Mo says he was one of the people in Lusaka who could verify, I mean I verified through Ivan, but directly within the structure that further investigations were carried out in Lusaka.
MM The timeline is for me, for me to get over a mental block I can see that I was in Moscow on 2 February with the unbanning but what I can't place is where I was when Mandela was released and yet I have a vivid memory of watching the television. That's the only thing that's puzzling me. Now it may be that CNN was showing it all over the world.
POM Oh they were, it was a worldwide event. That's what I mean, everybody remembers when Madiba was released. I don't remember exactly where I was.
MM I don't. What I have is a memory of the screen showing the enormous queues on both sides of the road and I have a memory of Madiba coming out with Winnie. That I have. And I have a memory of the Cape Town Parade meeting where on the balcony Cyril Ramaphosa is holding the microphone for Madiba but it's already dusk. So those memories are there. So I assumed at the beginning that I'm in some place in South Africa but Janet has clarified it too, she remembers where she was in Johannesburg and she actually remembers saying to herself, "Shit! If Mac was in the country he and I would be sitting and watching the same television." Because in most of my hideouts I never owned a television.
POM In most of your hideouts you didn't have a television.
MM Didn't have a television.In KZN I don't think they would have a television too. Maybe later on they got one but at the garage in the Canadian place no television, just relied on the radio and that was fine for me because I was always on the move. But Janet says she was sitting at her home in Norwood in a hideout and she was saying, "If Mac was here we'd be sitting and watching it here together." So I'm not in the country.
POM Now if you were on your way out of Moscow, let's say you've left Moscow, you would have gone to?
POM Now in Delhi would you have gone directly to Bombay or just stayed a night over?
MM In Delhi I had to do two things, retrieve my South African passport at the Soviet Embassy in Delhi and that meant finding a particular officer. I couldn't just walk into the Embassy and see anybody. A particular officer, he had to be around and he would from his safe give me my South African passport and I would give him the passport that I had used from Moscow.
POM So you had to go, you would check into a hotel first?
MM Check into a hotel, relax, walk over the next day.
MM The embassies are usually open from nine, ten in the morning to about two or three o'clock in the afternoon, so I would go the next day. Next day I would take a trip like a casual person, drift into the Soviet Embassy, ask for so-and-so, if he's not there say, "Don't worry I'll come back. When is he likely to be back?" They would say, "Well he'll be back this afternoon." OK, fine. Don't look like you're worried.So I would allow two days, three days in Delhi.
POM Then you'd go to Bombay?
MM I'd get to Bombay.
POM Would that just be a connecting flight?
MM Again, it never worked out that I would just jump on to another flight. I would go to a hotel and minimum stay a day. It's about three, four days en route.
POM So she doesn't have you in the country, Janet has you out of the country.
POM That means you're in transit and you saw it on television. I'm down now at Shubin, this is where there's a slip-up on your flight, you're talking about you were leaving Moscow, or coming into Moscow from Delhi.
MM Delhi to Moscow. Oh that's on the last time. Makana.
POM That was on the way to Moscow.
MM The slip-up was on my way to Moscow when I'm finally exited.
POM So it would be?
MM May 1990. A mistake, that's the conflation I was telling you about right at the beginning. This paragraph; there was a slip-up.
POM That's in May?
MM This is May 1990.
POM So when did you go back to Moscow?
MM I went back to Moscow at the end of May 1990.
POM On your way when you left the country?
POM Illegally. How did you do that?
MM Flew out of Jan Smuts.
POM Same way?
MM Same way.
POM So you went through Moscow.
MM Bombay, Delhi, Moscow.
POM That's what you're talking of now. OK, that's the one. Now we've placed that.
MM Then you've got a heading there, "Mac, there are problems."
POM I've got most of those now. When you left, just a sec. OK, you went to Moscow, that's fine.
MM The paragraph is this; you arrive in Moscow on 11/12 July one week after Mandela meets PW. In that week
POM That's why I'm saying the whole thing doesn't make sense. You agree?
MM Yes. If Momo picks up now you've gotten the explosive memo, calls Valli, that whole thing is
POM That's right because we've gone through it. You didn't get it, OK, you didn't have it. So that's gone.
MM This is not the memo that we were talking about. So there's a whole string on one line of assuming that the letter and the memo are the same thing.
POM The only thing, that we'll establish from the previous chapter when we get to that, and that's the
MM Then there's this thing about the retirement when you say you come across as a very angry, petulant chap.
POM Where's this? Yes, that's OK, that's just that's OK, it's covered, you see here? There are two people who complain, who talk about your resigning, one is Ivan, and your general dissatisfaction. In your own account of this is that you say it had been building up. I suppose my question is, would be, you have been out of the country more or less since the previous July, you come back in and the first thing you see after Mandela's release is the list of the interim leadership and you promptly get fired up and send off a resignation. It's like, well, why didn't you resign before you came back when you could have said before you came back, "You guys never respond to my requests, you leave me holding the ball all the time, I've reflected on this while I've been in Brighton and if conditions are not changing when I get back I have to resign, step down from Vula." Why did you wait till you got back in the country then the first thing that hits you is - who made the decision as to who should be the interim leadership in the country? That wouldn't have been Slovo, that would have been the NEC I assume.
MM The truth of the matter is they explained it and they said that Nzo said something to the media out of turn. That was the explanation that I received from Slovo and he was not supposed to say that publicly. Now the point about it for me was
POM Was he saying two things? Number one the decision had been made and we're sorry about the way you learnt about it but the decision was already made. Then who made the decision?
MM The NEC or NWC. NWC it was.
POM But the NWC would not be privy to the communications that you had been sending to JS and - ?
MM But JS said Nzo would be able to see it. That was their excuse not to use it.
POM But Nzo isn't really tuned into this, to you and your sensitivities in the way OR would be.
MM But at least Nzo, they would have accepted that this is our view, let's get a feedback from Mac. Let's tell them this is what we're going to be doing. My objection was how do you trade this whole balance that you've been creating in the underground to respond to a newspaper article and everybody starts pouring in to you, what's happening? And what does it mean for us?
POM But I'm saying two things, Mac, one is that you were saying that your recommendations were that people from the underground should be part of the interim structures.
MM No. My recommendation was that some people who would have a line to the underground should be part of that structure so that their mindset would not be just influenced by the public side of what's happening.
POM I'm saying that that communication would have been to Slovo and OR prior to July or June of 1989. We're now six months on. What communications did Nzo read? He didn't read many of the past communications, do you know what I mean? That's six months ago.
MM It's Joe's job to tell him. You take this, the main thing that was given to me this is clearly, this is 1988 early 1989 re Madiba.
POM Yes I have it on page 2.
MM "Thanks for progress report. Things appear to us to be reasonably in hand. SM (I assume Sydney Mufamadi) should by now have reported to you on the nature of our discussions with the UDF, COSATU on this question. (a) The briefing you suggest to Madiba is still under consideration." So this suggests to me
POM The briefing you?
POM To Madiba?
MM Should be given to Madiba.
MM By OR.
POM And his reply.
MM No, I'm saying to OR, please do a briefing to Madiba in which you set out the state of play, and he is saying that suggestion is under consideration.
POM This is November 1988?
MM This is before even the Harare Declaration. Secondly, a secure line to Madiba, Reggie (that's OR) Madiba is welcome. So I told you I said I needed permission.
POM That's for the communication?
MM Yes.(c) Maximum collective functioning of the Rivonia group is vital including that of contact between Zizi and Mandela. That's Govan Mbeki. That's in response to don't allow cleavages. (d) In addition to problems of reception it is vital to launch and intensify Release Mandela campaign.
POM Now when you say 'problems of reception', that's the Reception Committee?
MM I'm coming to that.
POM This is November 1988.
MM I'm saying, I have been saying to OR the release is going to come, it's a question of time and we don't have to start debating that. What we have to start preparing is (a) what do we do to ensure that the release happens, (b) when it happens how do we maintain full contact? In that context I say to him, and he responds, your idea for a Madiba secretary is a good one. Because I say to him the way to keep all the things moving properly is that when Madiba is released we must have already prepared a person to be his secretary so that as soon as he's released we put a secretary there. Now the secretary is the one who is au fait with the routes around the new world, how to reach OR, how to reach this one, how to reach that one, how to reach the underground.
POM Did you have somebody in mind at that time?
MM I don't remember whether we had reached that point. I put the suggestion in 1988. We said, can you think about it, this is a very strategic post? In my mind such a secretary would be the sort of person who was either in the NEC or in the NWC or would qualify as an internal person to be sitting there. For example, if you said it's at that stage, and I would have been wrong - if you had said to me what about Sydney Mufamadi giving up his job as Assistant Secretary General of COSATU to become Madiba's secretary, I would have probably said yes. But that's the calibre I'm talking about, somebody who would know where to access, which buttons to press and would therefore when Madiba is agitating with a problem, it's not what answer but who to tap in to get the inputs about what possible answer. That's what you need as his secretary. But he says here, now this is 1988, he says, "Your idea of a secretary for Madiba is a good one." Because I'm saying to him start thinking, that's a critical task that you've got to fulfil. Unless you are saying that when Madiba comes out he must himself do all that. Wrong. So here it is that says the way I was thinking of the problem at OR's time in 1988 was look far ahead at the strategic posts and what is to be done. The fact now that I've revised with Janet, from the time that OR has his stroke there's no communication, no communication analysing the problem, showing what difficulties, showing which way should people go.
POM You're also not there.
MM I'm not there but there's no evidence that Janet is saying that there were such communications.
POM Janet didn't send him anything.
MM Janet would have been a recipient.
POM Sorry, she would have been a recipient? But there was no communication going on so the lines went dead.
MM Nor is there sign that that type of thing was being discussed with Gebhuza because Gebhuza was not communicating with prison. To communicate with Madiba he would have to go through Janet. So there was no message going to Madiba. There was a sort of paralysis on that front, not to say that people weren't doing things but that whole front of it was a forgotten issue and when the question becomes now we legalise what do we do? He says we set up a committee. At least JS could have said, Nzo, postpone the decision in this matter.
POM They're out, they're all out.
MM But how to reach them is a problem on this question of canvassing names.Those were the issues. How do you securely communicate? Do you communicate with your own members, leadership, through the newspaper? If that's the way you're communicating I think there's a serious problem.
POM Couldn't they have picked up the phone to him?
MM Would you at that stage, even though you are unbanned and even though MK is unbanned, does that mean that MK can march in the streets of Jo'burg? No.
POM No, but if you're appointing an interim leadership which is going to be public anyway there's no reason why if they can ring him in prison they can't ring him when he's out.
MM But you have to have somebody who's got a way of reaching the underground. You can't just appoint people and say the underground how does the underground make its input? Part of an organisation is not just what the leadership tells it.
POM But when Madiba comes out who takes control of him?
MM This is the point about it, the Reception Committee was in charge of receiving him.
POM Well after he's received?
MM After he's received Lusaka announces a leadership group and who's the leadership group.
POM Now that's after, so it's not after it's unbanned, it's after his release.
MM This is the point about it, so I say, my memory on dates, something is wrong there. I thought it was before Madiba's release from prison. Leanne has searched, can't find it. Secondly, it's established now that I only entered the country after his release. So it's after his release and after I'm back that I resign. The question is what is the trigger that makes me resign? It's over the appointment of the interim leadership because I'm saying you have not canvassed views, you have just decided from Lusaka, you have not taken into account and you have left us now to answer to this underground. How do we answer? I say, "You answer, I'm not going to answer to them."
POM Now some of the committee I've located actually, by the way, had already left the Communist Party because when they announced their leadership that list of all the people on that, they gave a bio of everyone and the bio was part of chairman of the whatever, regional such-and-such of the interim leadership ANC. You have Kathy, you have Walter, you've all the other guys, Govan, you've Raymond Mhlaba. Who else? Who was on the NEC who's five or six of them but they were all older Rivonia.
MM That's May, that's already May/June. May/June/July.
POM There's a second?
MM The problem was the first round of leadership.
POM Go back, Mandela is out now, he goes home and he wakes up the following morning, who's there to say, "OK, this is the programme"?
MM A decision was taken in Lusaka.
POM Who did it?
MM The Working Committee.
POM Sorry, not in Lusaka. Who took charge in SA, who were the names of the people?
MM Those are the four people that I'm saying, Kgalema Motlanthe. I think the other names were
POM Was Motlanthe in your underground?
POM Wasn't he at that meeting with Valli?
MM That meeting of Valli and them was a flow off just in the
POM So Motlanthe, one.
MM Motlanthe. Kgalema was one name that sticks out in my mind, and I think Sydney. There were no Rivonia trialists on the list.
POM So he didn't get to Walter? So they start setting up the programme?
MM Yes. And I have a very clear memory that when I protested they said to me that those names are not supposed to have been released by Nzo, Nzo came out of the meeting, was met by the media, the media began to put questions to him and inadvertently he answered that way and we're stuck with that answer.
POM But have a look around that period to see what names are appearing in the papers.
MM Is Leanne here?
MM I just want to ask her on that question. Late 1988, round about October/November 1988. You have a list also. We're not happy about the purchase of weapons because I'm obviously saying if you haven't got it in the and if you cannot supply it we have found sources inside the country where we can buy the weapons. So what do you say? Shall we buy it? And in that context the next sentence says, "Unfortunately we are still waiting for Lorenzo's promised supply of silencers, etc."
POM Lorenzo is?
MM Lorenzo is Cuba. Now clearly one of the issues that I'm raising, I'm saying I need those silencers and other weapons and I am saying we can buy them and they are saying we haven't got them, the Cubans who promised the silencers haven't yet supplied us. Then the next paragraph says, "Thank you for the budget. It looks reasonable, in the meanwhile you should be receiving £30,000 sterling."Now £30,000 sterling is "Please do not hesitate to make ongoing requisitions for your budget requirements, we're trying to place more funds into the reserves for R & R projects (Robin & Reggie projects)." That's for the Vula
POM He said R & R were himself?
MM Robin is Slovo and Reginald is OR. That's for the projects per that decision, any special operations of that sort. So they're saying to me don't hesitate. You don't give that sort of encouragement to anybody to ask for money unless
POM Trevor wouldn't like it.
MM Nobody likes it. But it means that they were really, really impressed with what we were doing.
POM Well you have a memo there that says it's the incursion -
MM An amazing incident, amazing.
POM Down here, Bravo.
MM And not only Bravo, he's asking here to Ivan, OR himself in his handwriting says before he left to go in and during preparations for his departure, Tony (that's me now) prepared a document in which he set out what
POM Do you want me to read it?
MM "Before he left to go in, during preparation for his departure, Tony prepared a document in which he set out just what we all agreed were his tasks inside the country. I would like to look at this urgently, are you able to retrieve it from our computers?" Now this is the strategy document that I referred to where the tasks of the operation were set out. What is remarkable is that OR says, "Ivan, retrieve it." Because he said, "I need to be aware what exactly are the tasks we've set out. Are we keeping to it, are we expanding?" It would be like when I say it's not part of my task to set up communications with Madiba, it's now possible, would you like me to do it? I think it's useful.
POM I'm suggesting, Mac, in that context just in what you said that if you have, leaving Slovo aside for the moment, if you have a Nzo, again, who doesn't give any kind of priority to Vula that OR gave it, he being part of its conceptualisation and everything like that, it's like one more project he has to deal with and now Madiba is released and he's got to make all these decisions and he wouldn't say, "Could you pull me up all of Mac's recommendations?" He hasn't seen Mac at all, hasn't had a conversation with Mac.
MM He has no idea.
POM He didn't know where you were.
MM Just a soldier in the country.
POM So he just goes ahead out of his limited ability, and everybody I talked to said he was a man with a limited ability, he kind of says, "OK guys what do you think we should do?" And the guys around him, the NEC who don't know about what's going on, say so-and-so and so-and-so and the only person there who could have brought the matter up would have been Slovo and maybe Slovo just didn't think that way or went along with it and there were things on his mind. So it was like a bureaucratic
MM And it wouldn't have appeared anyway except to Slovo, who knows what work is going on, to say, goodness, let's consult. You see here what OR is saying, look at this paragraph: we must not follow the beaten path. It is a minefield where we must strike out on a new road and lay the indispensable foundations for a viable armed struggle by first creating, building and consolidating a strong, resilient, extensive political network that is self-sufficient and providing protection and security to absorb shocks and capability to absorb. This is precisely the task Vula has started tackling with such startling vigour and effectiveness.
Now this whole thing that we were trying out in a new way from what we were used to, OR had it and that is the context in which he says, "Ivan, pull up that document", because it's now become -because we are in danger that we will always slip in the old ways.
POM I'm saying that in a way the same, if I were reading, say if I had documents before me and I was asked to make an analysis of just documents and I had to do the thing I don't like to do, that is try and go into other people's heads, I would say that when the NEC came to decide who the interim leadership was that (i) they were unaware of there being an underground, (ii) that Nzo probably never brought it up because he probably never went through all the documents that you had sent six months before that and he's heard nothing from Vula and Slovo just didn't take it into account or he was a voice and he might have said, "I've some other names", but he's a white man, he's a white man now telling Africans who they should appoint to be the first leadership at home?
MM Except that I was aware also, I was aware that Nzo was in the party also.
POM He was in the party but was he in the Politburo?
MM No, not in the Politburo but he and Nkobi were treated in a special way.
POM Communists of a special kind?
MM Yes, they were not put in any way in the leadership of the party, kept separately, they had official positions in the ANC, but it was decided not to make known their positions. Maybe I have been too harsh to Slovo.
POM I think you are. You said he's spontaneous, that he would act with spontaneity, this is an event happening, a lot is happening, innumerable things are in people's heads and no-one is thinking in terms of a longer view. It's like 'put something in place.'
MM I thought Joe had the ability to look at a longer view. I'm aware that I was extremely harsh with him about Groote Schuur. But here I'm assuming that he's briefing Nzo.
POM You see, that's the thing.
MM I'm assuming. But you see, Padraig, I'm assuming it. If I was in Slovo's shoes and if what he and OR are saying here about the projects
POM This is February, that's November 1988, we're now in February 1990.
MM But even then he's saying Nzo would have been aware but we don't know how they really put people in the country.You just take an example today, whether I like it or not, hasn't Pravin Gordhan done a remarkable job as Receiver of Revenue? If we had the wisdom and the foresight in 1990 and we are aware that this was the capability of this man, wouldn't we have put him in the Natal leadership of the ANC, the first leadership, because everything that he's showing in SARS is the ability to organise. He's no great shakes but he's a manager, organiser. Now the ANC as was created in Natal in 1990 in a province that has been a hotspot even up to now, that has the potential of creating serious problems - not that it can derail the country, but create serious problems, it needed a Tambo to organise.
POM They got Terror. That's where I first interviewed him in the Diakonia Centre. He was giving six interviews at the same time.
MM We should never have alienated Terror. Have you met Jabu Sithole? The cripple?
MM Should we have alienated him? Even though he has got all sorts of wild ideas, again a powerful mind and a mind that would put into any debate a different viewpoint. So these were the type of people that were there on the ground.
POM Who's there to make the case?
MM Who's there to tell? Where's the content.
POM Where is it?
MM But shouldn't Joe have been saying this remarkable progress that we're making, it couldn't be done by Mac alone.
POM Maybe he still said, "I shouldn't bring up Vula, we're still keeping it operational. Just leave it like that." What I'm saying is we shouldn't reach a judgement about him that ends up by setting you in a poor light, that's what I mean.
MM All I am saying is I was making the assumption that when the country is at it's most critical moment you, Slovo, who had been using all your influences as the General Secretary of the party, as the co-leader of the new part that OR was heading, and ensure that some of your best people are put up in the job or organising the ANC and the party inside the country now because in this tussle of negotiations your only strength is your organisational capacity. There are no clever words, it's that strength on the ground that's going to carry you through and for that you needed your best men. Not people who come from Lenin School in Moscow but people who know the country.
POM Did he ever tell you that he'd spent too long out of the country?
MM It's always struck me that that was a problem, I've said so about people outside. But the point is
POM They can't think inside.
MM In other countries it didn't happen that way. They were out of the country for long periods but they still didn't make that mistake. Even Castro, and they were out in the hills, in defeating the Baptiste forces in open combat, they were now planning to hit Havana, they had to reach the trade unions and - "You call the strike so that Havana is paralysed by the workers and that it will coincide with our entry."
POM But they were in the country. They were in the country.
MM OK, OK.
POM I would say if I had spent 25 years in Lusaka and my decision making, and you bring it up yourself, that the mindset in Lusaka could always think only in terms of I mean learnt behaviours on being on the outside because at some point you're incapable of thinking in terms of the inside. You're not there.
MM OK, if I was in retreat what would I say? I would say that maybe Comrade Slovo -
POM Or maybe he was overruled. Maybe they said that's fine but these are the people we're picking. We're picking the guys we know, we're the NEC, who do we know? We know A, we know B and we know C, so your guy, what's his name again? Pravin Gordhan? Never heard of him. If you say he's good he is, Joe, but lots of people are good. But every person that comes into somebody's mind on the NEC is people they know or knew, not people who suddenly crop up, new names out of nowhere.
MM If you took, it's the wrong type of discussion but just to make the example, if you took Terror and Murphy and you had to decide to assign an organising task ...In any structure that Vula was involved in at any level we would put the issue to such a committee.
POM Murphy? Take him five minutes. He was a name. He had gone through the Delmas trial, big time. He went to the US, I met him there first when he came in just after that, he was a hero wherever he went. Treason trial! It took him a long way, it has taken him a long way.
MM We were talking about my retirement and I'm saying maybe I was harsh because at the back of it I assumed a bit too much, namely that as soon as Nzo had taken over from OR, I assumed that JS would make it his priority task to take Nzo through all the key issues that he and OR - to create an understanding of that. It's turning out now, maybe he did it but didn't manage to make an impact there.
POM Also, Mac, maybe because you had not been in the country for that length of time, there was no flow of communications going between him and anybody in there, it had just slowly subsided in his mind and it became a routine thing for Ivan to handle it and he hadn't heard from anybody in the country for six months, for God's sake.
MM There were lots of things passing manuals, documents, manuals on how to do this, how to do that and how to make a compartment.
POM But he wouldn't be involved in how to make a compartment, for God's sake.
MM Gebhuza would be requesting a manual and they'd send it.
POM Anyway, which chapter are we on.
MM You put 'communication', communicating with Mandela. That one we've got to leave out until we've discussed it and I've had a meeting with Ayob. I tried over the weekend, I couldn't reach him.