About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

17-18 Jun 2004: Maharaj, Mac

MM     A whole lot of people who were in London at that time, a man like Smangaliso Mkhatshwa was drawn into … so his friends hadn't come out …

POM     He's in Pretoria? Yes.

MM     First we made him Deputy Minister of Education. That was wrong. We've had to destroy some of the comrades because we couldn't deploy them – I can't put it simpler than that. I think there are many good people post-1994 who came in because they were …

POM     For jobs.

MM     We have destroyed them.

POM     But that's a learning stage.

MM     Post the trial, when Madiba –

POM     Is on Gebhuza ducking.

MM     Part of the … committee, self-defence, and then by the time it expired asked Madiba, "Why did you do this?" He said, "What else would I do?"

POM     You didn't bring this up with Madiba until when?

MM     I don't know when I brought it up. I must have brought it up –

POM     Did he say, you shit head, you retired and left me on my own?

MM     No, he said what did I do? I retired. So I say that's the scenario in which I check my mind, also because I was aware that he had talked and this might have arisen with Madiba and me also because I said that he talked to Phoebe. I said yes, I know. This was during the period of my retirement.

POM     That would have been between December –

MM     December 1990 and July 1991, around May/June. It was a crude answer. His tone was very hurt, he said, "Yes I know, I already talked to him."

POM     In what context did you bring it up?You didn't simply say - ?

MM     The few moments that I met him we talked nicely. Madiba and Walter, and we talked very nicely, warmly. Others he met have talked nicely but it was a bit cold. Madiba and Walter whenever I met them it was always warm. So that's what I remember but I told Janet, I said, "Look I have a problem, that's how I fought you off." From my point of view the other rationalisation I have is that in my detention I certainly held a number of trump cards with the Security Branch. When it came to their trying to overstep the law in their treatment of me I had to play my previous record, (b) the situation had changed and I had a very reasonable reading of who's who in the negotiating playing and I could track them and say, look, you'll be dumped. So in that framework whenever they tried to throw at me that Gebhuza was like a sieve I was able to fend that off and tell them what would happen. From my point of view speaking as a commander, my knowledge as a commander, I cannot reveal the secrets, just as you would keep secrets if you are a commander. But I was virtually putting myself into a prisoner of war situation in my mind. So it gave me an upper hand and when they realised, when they found evidence that we had sources inside the Security Branch it strengthened my hand. So it didn't matter what they said about Gebhuza, true or false, I didn't have to agitate like in 1964 who's talking, what are they saying, what does he know? I just had to say, oh, partners. Janet's not arrested. Gebhuza is. So he actually told them or they have found evidence with him. Janet's not arrested, Momo's not arrested, Gebhuza is arrested, so he's told them, and JS has been there but he wouldn't know anybody. So the only person –

POM     Deduction.

MM     Right. No worry like in 1964, the deduction is that it could be Piet Beyleveld, it may be David Kitson, or maybe it's Paul Joseph, which one, which one now and how wide has he spoken? So I say under those circumstances I never sat down to examine the problem but I've now made arrangements, I was very worried in my last discussion. You told me that the prosecutor was saying that Gebhuza when charged for possession of firearms insisted that he was … and the magistrate said, "No, no bail on this issue."

POM     Let me give you the sequence because I went over it very carefully the other night.

MM     I'll give you a copy. I've undertaken, I will get the police docket.

POM     His police docket?

MM     Yes.

POM     And the day he went for – I don't have the actual date he went for his bail hearing because that will be on the docket, right?

MM     I have to get this myself so I will go an extra distance but I will get a copy of that.The reason was that it was too stark and it gave me a number of jolts. For example, when I left you that day I reflected on it, Zac Yacoob was his lawyer.

POM     Now Zak was the guy you stayed with in Durban? The blind guy?

MM     Yes.

POM     He's on the Constitutional Court now. I'll see him on this. Zak. Yes, we've talked before.

MM     He would have been the defence advocate for Gebhuza and he was the defence advocate in our Vula trial. I don't recall in preparing our defence for the Vula trial Zak raising any alarm.

POM     What were you charged with?

MM     Sabotage and other terrorism acts.

POM     Section 54?

MM     High treason, whatever section it was.

POM     Yes, section 54. I'll tell you why.

MM     It hasn't been discussed, it's just a few odd remarks. When you put it this way it seems to me that in Madiba's discussions with De Klerk, Madiba may have had discussions with Kobie.

POM     With Kobie?

MM     Madiba always speaks highly of Kobie.

POM     He does? He was a madman.

MM     The point is Madiba had for Kobie –

POM     Big respect for him.

MM     He had a relationship where he could push Kobie in directions which Kobie would (not normally go).So I have a feeling that somewhere in that period of July 25th on, Kobie moved in the direction of killing this Vula arrest and that he would be doing it to satisfy Madiba but it was against his own establishment. I had the feeling that Madiba was aware that that possibility had arisen.

POM     But the ANC took a decision.

MM     So Kobie took it there.

POM     No, they said -

MM     That's why Madiba's anger was trained on Vlok because when he visited me at St Aidans he had come back from the Far East and he says to me Vlok had promised Sisulu, I had trusted Walter to attend to this matter while I was out and I received a report that Vlok said by the 17 September at the latest Mac will either be charged or released and the word 'charge' had an implication of charges like murder. But he says, "I come back and nothing has happened so I am really angry." So his anger was trained on Vlok, it wasn't trained on De Klerk, it wasn't on Kobie. Now when you tell me this story he says to me, "Yes, the State Security Council with Kobie and with FW had agreed, let's just find some nominal charge and release these buggers." But the police had the prosecutorial report with us being charged.

POM     You wouldn't have been charged, it was after he was finished, then the media broke the story of this and that, false passports, in and out of the country and arms and all of this, then the word leaked out, charge the buggers with everything.

MM     Charge them now.

POM     Everything. And that's when you got charged the way you did. Now this is what's interesting, in four people I've talked to, the State Prosecutor, Davidson, Janet Love, Ivan, all their interviews, all of them use almost exactly the same words in describing Nyanda, in one sentence. They all say this man had a king sized ego. He was saying to Davidson afterwards, "You charged me with - "

MM     What explains that?

POM     His ego? Well having one yourself Mac, you probably are in a good position to answer that question.

MM     I can't see why he would say that unless in his mind, I mean he would know that our arrests, he would know that.

POM     This is the thing, the thing is, and this is where I move to Katherine, this woman is going to kill him because (i) she was just when I interviewed her so (disappointed) in his treatment and everything she read or heard, the foundation to … confirmed it.

MM     Both his narcissism and denial, as roots that place with people in detention, go into shock. And I've seen the South African experience how people have rationalised and at the bottom of their rationalisation is a denial, they shut their minds. I've come to the conclusion that the denial phenomenon happens in such a way that it's like real. They're not conscious that they're denying, they genuinely believe it. To me it's explainable in terms of the shock to the system. But then I ask myself, what makes that shock so big that it can lead to a complete blackout and an alternative version and the only thing that happens is that the system has been shocked by it. Now what's going to shock his system, intercept the super confidence that, hey, everything is moving fine. Everything is moving well.

POM     Yes, I'm going to be freed.

MM     Not only I'm going to be freed, everything is sorted out, there's no problem. And then I said to myself, what could have made that? He was speaking as if he was forgetting that I was in charge, so he must have felt confident that my integrity would stand. But what would have been his reaction when he realised that my integrity was not standing, that I was now detained?

POM     My own belief is that, and it comes across when you read the other people's accounts, because they're not malicious, they're kind of saying I think, I'd qualify that, it's like he got consumed with a sense of self-importance, that he wanted them to understand that he was big league, really big league, that this operation that they were uncovering, and whatever they were getting, and he's helping them. I mean he was saying this means this and that means that and give me that document.

MM     There's a place there and there's a place here.

POM     Weren't we clever? We were terrific. We didn't just get a flat and have it buried there, we built a false goddamn basement.

MM     What happened you see, we went on this track when they asked a question; how did the police know the border crossing, the exact spot?

POM     Yes, how? Because they'd been told.

MM     There was nobody else that was arrested, nobody knew exactly where we crossed except Tootsie, my woman in Swaziland, but he would know, he would know the exact spot. If I was taken to the precise spot –

POM     Did they say, "This is where you crossed"?

MM     It was no man's land, we jumped the fence here.

POM     It's like somebody said that Vula reads better than a James Bond story and he said - I'm James Bond. You guys think that you have the story there on these documents? I'll tell you what, you ain't seen nothing yet.

MM     You ain't seen nothing yet.

POM     Anyway, the stuff, the materials speak for themselves.

MM     I've now remembered the doctor, the District Surgeon in Durban, suddenly the name came as we were talking.

POM     Port Elizabeth?

MM     Under Durban, no it's under 'seeing a doctor'.

POM     Dr. Vawda.

MM     The paragraph beginning, "The doctor asked me".

POM     The doctor, "My neck", he said. No?

MM     No I was taken back to C R Swart.… threw his toys out of the cot.

POM     The doctor asked me, "Do you mind being at St Aidans? We'll get you a private ward or a double bed ward."

MM     In that sentence there Billy had been in a communal ward. The officer was sitting there and didn't know what to say. The doctor asked me, "Do you mind being at St Aidans? Shall we get you a private ward, a double bed ward?"

POM     It doesn't matter to me, I've just got this poor officer, nothing about Billy, it's gone. I've corrected it.

MM     That's OK because Billy was in the ICU.

POM     OK, that's gone. That's it. Terror?

MM     He's very vulnerable. I think the whole security cluster is so horrible in this country, it just got on top of … the whole system, correctional services.

POM     Falling apart. That's OK, you want to send 75,000 guys to Sudan and settle the whole thing up there, unilateral intervention. You have the Chief Justice coming out and saying the whole justice system is falling apart.

MM     The economy side.

POM     I think the UNDP report was spot on.

MM     I think that they were a bit alarmist.

POM     It can't grow, per capita income is falling.

MM     I'm not sure, the tilt, the tilt that says we must start moving into infrastructure and put more into infrastructure development, it's not anywhere near what it should be.

POM     Into what?

MM     Into infrastructure development.

POM     Most departments don't use their capital budget.

MM     Interesting the way he's mentioned Mo and myself.

POM     Who's that now?

MM     In Search of Enemies."It is true that Mac and Mo accused Bulelani of having been an apartheid spy. When this allegation was first made during the anti-apartheid days it had absolutely nothing to do with any actions but it had everything to do with what proved to be faulty intelligence. Mr Hani and others like him - "

POM     Where's this now?

MM     Thabo's'In Search of Enemies'.

POM     Oh you're back at that, does it say here?

MM     It says, "It is true that Mac and Mo accused Bulelani of being an apartheid spy. This accusation was made during the anti-apartheid days. It had absolutely nothing to do with actions but everything to do with what proved to be faulty intelligence."

POM     This guy must say, "Am I part of that?" He can't let go. This title is perfect, he's talking about himself.

MM     Anyway the point I was making, you say it's on its way?

POM     Gone.

MM     Can I collect?

POM     Oh sorry, it's Blomkamp. It's like Kasrils, Ronnie, he used to send stuff to his wife in London. He says, "You know, I was walking down Florida Road the other day and it brought back fond memories of the house I first stayed in in 1957 when I was arrested." He says, "Now I want to tell you, that's very careless, you wouldn't find a KGB agent doing that." It's just like he was saying it.

     I'll get the date.

MM     It was also confirmed in an indirect way.

POM     Which is this? Where is this now?

MM     Second sentence. There's no need for that indirect way.

POM     Sorry, on the first statement it was also confirmed. Oh yes. It was also confirmed. When?

MM     August already.

POM     In October right?

MM     No 7 August he visited me.

POM     So when it says in October, that should be on 7 August? 7 August was when he visited you?

MM     You see this story, the rest that follows is not a confirmation that it was an ANC operation.

POM     In Durban –

MM     I can see why you're saying that, OK, we can deal with that later. It's just that I'm making a different problem saying that visit and what he's saying to me had nothing to do with confirming that it was an ANC operation. It was confirmed that the regime recognised that. He confirmed that the regime recognised it to be the ANC operation. It was also confirmed in an indirect way that the regime recognised Vula as an ANC operation.

POM     They did from the beginning when they saw the stuff and they had the meeting of the State Security Council that said get rid of this stuff, it's dynamite, it'll blow everything out of the water.

MM     As at August 6th, up to August6th – yes, you're right because they only tried that one feeble attempt to say Slovo must not be in the delegation and then it was gone. So this point, Padraig you'll have to read this, that linking sentence.

POM     OK, I'll deal with it.

MM     I just hope that in line, from the bottom of that paragraph, line 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, appreciate one thing. Got it? I'm facing not formidable, I'm facing opposition.

POM     The lawyer, that's Zak, right? The court grants the bail before lunch, the lawyers come, "Chaps, we are pleading with the police to keep you here because we've got to go and raise the money."

MM     On the first day.

POM     It said, "Applied for bail. First we were pushed on remand on the first day bail application, the matter was argued and they say R50,000 for Mac. The court grants the bail before lunch. The lawyers come." That would be Zak. Zak says, because he would be there already.

MM     The advocate was Zak, who were our lawyers? Was it Yunus Mohammed?

POM     Is Yunus Mohammed the same Yunus Mohammed?

MM     One is Yunus, one is Yusuf.

POM     OK, now Yunus Mohammed –

MM     Is the lawyer in Durban.

POM     OK, now he I have now as being the guy who was with Gebhuza. His name came up.

MM     For what?

POM     As being there when he applied for his bail application.

MM     Yes, Yunus Mohammed would be there as lawyer. I'm saying Yacoob was their lawyer. Now Yunus Mohammed would be the lawyer and Yunus Mohammed, Zak Yacoob, I don't know whether it was Yunus' wife, Daya Pillay – we'll check that. I think there was another chap too, I've forgotten his name.

POM     DAYA, right?

MM     Yes, and Zak Yacoob.

POM     "Come September I'm driving the car of Maud."

MM     Maud is Yusuf Mohammed's wife, partner. I think she's his wife.

POM     Is this during the conference, before the conference?

MM     This Saturday morning –

POM     It's just because, I can say one Saturday morning in –

MM     February 1991.

POM     Comes a Saturday morning in February 1991.

MM     I've got a swimming gala, not galas, at Sacred Heart College. I'm not reading it, I'm just seeing it as -

POM     Walter reads it as a complaint. "I said I'm phoning General Basie Smit to tell him he'd better stop. Walter reads it as a complaint to our system, if I had a complaint there." I think we can just skip that and go right to, "I can sense that Walter's mind, he doesn't know what to say I must do. Maybe also what's running through his mind is do we have to find resources to protect Mac? He just can't order it." He's finding a complaint with your system.

MM     I think that section has got to go again. He says, what are you going to do? It's very simple, I'm phoning Basie Smit to tell him that he'd better stop or else. And then we drop the rest of the paragraph.Dot, dot, dot and we got to "Walter reads it as a complaint."

POM     Drop the whole thing now, I'm down to –

MM     I'm phoning Basie Smit. Yes, drop the rest of it.

POM     You said Walter doesn't know what to say. I didn't get a leading comrade come to me and say, here, I heard this has happened to you, what can I do? How would they know about it, Mac, that's my question?

MM     I informed the support. Secondly, I think I told Yusuf, I would have told Yusuf. I didn't phone (anyone) after that.

POM     You said at the - ?

MM     Aziz Pahad and Aboobaker.

POM     We have that down here I think. You've got –

MM     I've given Msimang as an example.

POM     But you said, "Some people who were in the know about Vula", that's at the beginning of the paragraph. Now they were telling journalists, "What annoyed me was that some people who were in the know about Vula were not doing anything to change the story that was being put out. I just heard which individuals in ANC were saying things about me, such as that Vula was not an ANC operation, it was a maverick operation and we're saying don't bother about him, let him face the music. Now they were telling journalists and other individuals. What annoyed me was that some of the people who were in the know about Vula - "

MM     From the Politburo of the SACP.

POM     OK. The statement, that was in June of 1991. "That's why I was angry."

MM     Slovo found himself constrained. He was at a disadvantage since OR had the stroke.

POM     He lost his connection?

MM     He lost – look, it's there in OR's handwriting and Slovo's how significantly Vula was performing yet they hadn't shared it with anybody in the NEC so this was a close-chested secret and Slovo had been previously head of Special Operations which had done very well. So there was a sense amongst some members of bragging about Slovo and here OR had a stroke and was paralysed and JS was … to go round saying, "This is how well another operation in which he is involved has been doing."

POM     Griping about him because his operation had been so successful?

MM     Well it's one of the phenomenon of any exile.

POM     One guy starts climbing the ladder, you say, "Not that bugger."

MM     Successful people are looked down on.

POM     Yes.

MM     By your peers.

POM     Competition, it's all human nature.

MM     I think that was one of JS's constraints, given that it was JM, he put it very harshly. Remember when I dealt with the Madiba autobiography I said there that I had to give it to OR and Dr Dadoo. I was told by Walter that you have to push OR, he's going to be so busy it'll get lost, you must keep at it.

POM     This is on publishing the autobiography?

MM     Yes, when I smuggled it out. But the man who told me that he didn't see merit in publishing it was never OR. OR it was just, "What do we do? What do we do?" But the opinion that he received was from JS and the Council, they saw no merit in publishing it.

POM     Because he hadn't told the truth?

MM     Because, the because part was my discussion with JS, with Slovo. Slovo says he doesn't tell the whole truth of the formation of uMkhonto. I say, "But Joe, that part of the truth is not yet ready to be told, that when Madiba is appointed as Commander in Chief and he starts uMkhonto the first thing he does is he meets the party and the party squads exist independently but were integrated under MK and Madiba and Slovo took … from uMkhonto weSizwe. Because he doesn't mention Slovo in that way it weighs in Slovo's mind that there is nothing significant in the book. He is not looking at what's the impact it will have and he's not looking that Madiba is not deliberately lying, telling a deliberate falsehood, he's just omitting a part of the story as we had to omit the part of the story when Chief Luthuli got the Nobel Peace Prize. When he got the Nobel Peace Prize we never said, "But Chief Luthuli was party to an NEC meeting that decided that uMkhonto should be formed." Right? We just were quiet about it because it was at a moment when we were shifting from non-violence to including violence in our repertoire and that he gets the Nobel Peace Prize. So we never stood up and said Chief Luthuli agreed. The result? Chief Luthuli is portrayed as a pacifist and he was no pacifist. Yes he had reservations about the armed struggle, he debated it.

POM     But he went along with it.

MM     He went along with it. It doesn't say so in the books. And because we didn't say so people say, up to now there are people who say Chief Luthuli was opposed to the armed struggle. Now here on this autobiography Slovo says it doesn't tell the complete truth.

POM     About one thing.

MM     About one thing. When I debated it with him I said, "I ask you, what else?"

POM     That surprised me that you would take a similar position.

MM     Who?

POM     That you took a similar position.

MM     I think that was from a different angle. When they published Madiba's speeches, Nelson Mandela Speaks, the slant in that is that Madiba was leftist. Madiba's return in 1962 and the rumours that his African trip had driven him towards Africanism, some people believed it. They believed it and this is a question that I discussed with Madiba in prison, and Walter. I say if there was a rumour it couldn't have caused any major problems but the evidence is that rumour did cause some problems for us in 1962/63. The reason was simple, that during that trip what he was reporting, what he reported to the meeting at Rivonia was that in his trip through Africa, Africa south of the Sahara was deeply anti-apartheid but with an understanding of apartheid as being simply oppressive of Africans, which was saying that the ANC is non-racialist and is led by communists and Indians was harming, an impediment to the ANC's calls of being recognised in sub-Saharan Africa. He had discussed this matter even with Kenneth Kaunda in Cairo or in Addis Ababa where Kaunda had just come as leader of UNIP and he raised this matter, so did Nyerere, "Look chaps, you people are being painted here as working with communists and led by Indians and whites. It's not good for you." Madiba came back and raised that observation as a matter that is going to be a problem for us to work around. It meant that we had to take into account those sensitivities in those African countries as we moved forward to mobilise their support which we would need for the armed struggle. That led, when passed from one to another, to a rumour that he was now Africanist.

POM     The manuscript comes out in 1977 and she read it and there's no apparent indication in the manuscript that he has moved to –

MM     He has chapters around Mother Africa, he has incidents like he was sitting in the Reception Pavilion with Haile Selassie and there came the Ethiopian Air Force and there came a pilot who came down, his plane landed and taxied to the front and out jumped the pilot and took his salute, he was a 16-17 year old Ethiopian, black, and Madiba is saying how Madiba felt. That's a normal incident, you would be proud if somebody said that about an Irish boy in 1940. You wouldn't be bothering about – and Madiba is saying this with pride as an African because of the features of African history, you've had certain defections, is that we were denied a history so the fact when you see that you feel power, like when Thabo made that speech "I am an African" I felt extremely proud when he said that we've got the blood of all these people in our veins, "I am an African", I felt very good because he was asserting a history that was denied to us here and yet if you started off with a suspicion that Madiba was moving towards Africanism the same thing puts a jarring note because besides that incident there are several others where Madiba – I don't know if in the final version but I will give you an example.

     Madiba describes a scene in Nigeria or somewhere in West Africa where he meets OR, Robert Resha and Mzwai Piliso. Now when he meets Mzwai Piliso, I think it's in Nigeria he meets Mzwai and he says this person walked over to him, now he hasn't met Mzwai Piliso, but here's a home boy coming in, a Xhosa, he knows that Mandela is there, he's going to meet him and he goes and greets him and says, "Comagu".Now when I read this I recall going to Madiba the next day, "What does Comagu mean?" Now Madiba explains to me that this is a greeting that is like in the ancestral hierarchy is like the god. So I said but he isn't God. He says, "No Mac, it's the ancestral hierarchy." "What do you mean ancestral hierarchy? Who's at the top in that hierarchy?" He said, "Comagu." I said, "Don't tell me he's not God." So we laugh but I say, not knowing the idiom and never having heard anybody greet each other in prison by Comagu and finding Mzwai Piliso greeting Madiba in West Africa with Comagu and Madiba recording it, I'm saying why put it there? Until he explains to me, he says, "Jesus, what's wrong with you? You're coming here with your puritanical approach that in our traditional society we don't recognise God. We do, every religion recognises God and every people has some religion and every religion has a deity or deities, so the fact that you come from a rationalist, atheistic position doesn't mean I have to."

     So I am saying if you read the original notes and it's very easy when your mindset is there's a truth missing there, and secondly is he really with us, non-racialism or is he narrow?The debate has never been concluded because it's rumours. Who was in South Africa who was in that debate? Moses Kotane, Walter Sisulu is in prison, all the others are in prison. What the hell is this? Luthuli is still in the country. So it's hearsay and it's all he's become a narrow nationalist, he's broken with the ANC, and that's how one of the rumours in the newspapers at that time was that it's members of the movement that sort him out.

POM     But it was never resolved?

MM     ANC, SACP.

POM     That when OR had the stroke that Slovo lost a special position, i.e. he had a very close relationship with OR and suddenly that was removed. Now it comes back to, now the movement is unbanned and he goes back to Africa and, how would I put it? This is like what happened to a lot of white people I interviewed who were very anti-apartheid and were with the movement all the way, because they were white they occupied leadership positions of the movement in the country in whatever field they were in and then when everything was changing they suddenly found themselves being shunted aside and just Africans, Indians, coloureds replacing them. Their first reaction was a bit of, well this is unfair, until they came to reflect on this is a necessary part of change.

MM     I don't think that happened to Slovo. Slovo was a hero on the ground, look at the number of squatter camps named after him. He was a hero and Madiba took him everywhere, at every rally Madiba is next to him. I think that in the period, I think Slovo had this problem, here you are, let's look at it this way, he's the General Secretary of the party and between OR's stroke, August, and coming home, May, in that period there's huge uncertainties how to move forward. Madiba and Walter come out, Joe knows that, they were able to connect, and they are able to draw him in. But on the other hand that component of the executive that was in Lusaka his connection, the closest link was with OR. He had very close relations with Joe Modise and others but that's a different calibre. At the level of what to do and what is to be done a close relationship had grown up between OR and him. That relationship is broken with OR's stroke and we now know, you can see, a person like Thabo would be close to Nzo, he wouldn't play straight with Slovo. So Joe is feeling insecure. Comes the unbanning in February and the legalisation of the party, members of his Politburo disappeared, they were not turning up at meetings. Members of the Central Committee were not turning up and what should he do? Confront them? As it turned out he never even contacted Thabo or Nzo, he just let it go away. But not because he was afraid but because he did not see it important enough to take on because for him more important was now build the relations with Madiba and Walter not realising also that Madiba would have to do what Madiba said. He says, "I went to the officials and I said who should I elect as my successor? I propose Ramaphosa." They said, "Thabo." But once they said Thabo, and I was the only one that said Ramaphosa, from then onwards I was happy to work with Thabo. I then turned to Thabo to tell him who did he think should be in the government because I assumed that he would know the exiles, he would know others. I would know the ones from prison so I depended on his judgement. JS was falling out of the loop and yet at another level JS is in the loop. So when it comes to forming that cabinet I think JS expected to be Minister of Justice but Dullah Omar got the Ministry of Justice, Joe got Housing. Mandela explains, he said having decided that Thabo was going to be his successor he said to Thabo make up a list who you think should be in the cabinet. And he says, "I argued certain names with him but to a large measure I started with a list that Thabo gave", and he justifies it on the grounds that Thabo knows people in exile. JS as SACP General Secretary is brought into the consultations afterwards, just as COSATU is brought in. So JS is nervous where it's going to move, which way things are going.

POM     I just put in a sentence that might cover and then I'll do a footnote. I say, "I believe … and I believe so was Joe but Joe's voice had yet to find itself in", we're talking about 'find itself', I'm going to write in there, OK, and then I'll footnote it with, like you said.

MM     Leanne has told me about your footnotes.

POM     100 pages.

MM     I don't think you can qualify as an author, you qualify as a writer of footnotes.

POM     Jakes would say, you, Mac, would recall that 'I was close to Thabo in 1990.'

MM     "I had been meeting him many times abroad at international conferences including at Dakar and he had left me in 1990 with a feeling, where he had even said, 'Agh, it's a good thing to get arrested'." No, let's change it, let's find a better formulation.

POM     Go to the top. It contradicts with a piece given in 1990 by Thabo. I said, what do you mean?

MM     What was said by Madiba in the foreword, the picture presented by Thabo to Jakes in the early 1990s. Jakes explained he had become close to Thabo in the late eighties and early nineties through meeting with him at international conferences and during the Dakar conference of 1987. Thus, after the Vula arrests Thabo expressed the view to him that if he, Thabo, was in the position of government he too would have had to order that the Vula people be arrested. As a result Jakes found it necessary to double check with Madiba that the views expressed in the foreword absolutely reflected Madiba's views.

POM     I'll just move that a little, not give the impression – you're kind of saying somebody wrote this and I want you to check it first. How would I put that? "I found it necessary to double check with Madiba that the views he expressed in the foreword accurately reflected what he meant to say." Went through it line by line, I took him through it.Line by line.

MM     As a result of Madiba's verifying what he had put in the foreword I came to realise that the picture of Vula that Thabo had painted in the early 1990s -

POM     The picture of Vula that Thabo had painted.

MM     Yes, to Jakes in the early 1990s. That puts it correctly, or better.

POM     The next one.There have never been personal issues between Thabo and myself. Contrary to what everyone says.

MM     You just have to say – I mentioned Thabo here but at the same time I have to ask myself whether I'm making it a personal issue. I have repeatedly told you that there has never been a question of a personal relationship between Thabo and myself.

POM     One of the people involved in the international arena, going abroad, OK. The only two were Thabo and Aziz, then there's Jacob.

MM     I wouldn't even put Thabo and Aziz, it's Thabo and Jacob.

POM     I'm striking a balance between negotiating and still prosecuting the mass struggle led to who advocating him? It's better - the advocacy is to …

MM     By Jeremy Cronin and Ronnie Kasrils of an … position.

POM     Prosecuting the mass struggle to some. Ronnie and Jeremy. And who else would be there? Harry Gwala?

MM     Well these are the guys that wrote about it.

POM     Advocating.

MM     The Leipzig option.

POM     An extreme position of the Leipzig option.

MM     Put a colon there. I can't say that openly. Let's work at the mass level. No, let's ensure that mass action is about a change in government. I'm sorry, let's formulate that more neatly. Let's put it this way: Let us not challenge the viability of negotiations, let us ensure that through mass action we bring about the downfall of the apartheid government. That's a more accurate summary than the Leipzig option.

POM     Then the appreciation of the realignment of your operational arms in the developing situation.

MM     I think that that sentence should be replaced with a simple sentence. They would also have to take into account the cold war was over and that the Soviet system had collapsed.

POM     There's a sentence there: The realignment of your operational arms in the development -

MM     It was not operational arms, it was trying to say it had to take into account that our support from the socialist countries was all gone.

POM     An insurance policy says carry on as before but keep it suppressed.

MM     An insurance policy does not require any redefinition of the role of the underground, it did not require any redefinition. In my view definition of the role of the underground was required.

POM     I had some place you canvassed and Valli came in with – and you said no, you had a different one. Just put it down, I assume that your vote won, that your view prevailed?

MM     Yes.

POM     You were doing it from Durban or wherever you were.

MM     No I was in -

POM     But other people were in Durban.

MM     And that the way in which the underground operated would have to change.

POM     All these dead people are caught up.

MM     Now that's a paragraph that is very, very clumsy. I think it is in this environment that I sharply criticise Joe Slovo for the formulation used in the Groote Schuur Minute.

POM     Can you say that again?

MM     It is in this framework that I very sharply criticised JS.

POM     This was why I –

MM     The Groote Schuur Minute, because it did not incorporate any clause acknowledging the existence of the underground and making provision for its indemnity.

POM     There's a principle of deniability here.

MM     Yes, I think that whole paragraph goes, deniability goes, the principle of deniability does not apply in this situation.

POM     "That's the last defence. Now Madiba never repudiated - never in a way that he got implicated and yet I know that as a man if push came to shove he would always stand up and say 'I knew', and yet it was our job, don't create that environment. That's the last resort where your leader stands up and says, 'If you want to destroy us, you destroy me first'."

MM     Because there was another paragraph where this one goes to because he will simply say that the movement had officially recognised what Vula was and you would have the date.

     We're on page 4 of 'Retiring from the ANC' and the question I put to Mac is, "Madiba, I will stay on for six months and then I will retire. I will help you to bridge this period." It was a question of discussing the issues with you. Now I'm putting this in the context of later on you will see at the NEC meeting you say you are retiring within six months, in December, at the June meeting, the first NEC meeting and you're signalling to Madiba that we never had our conversation. OK? Now my question is that had you had your conversation and he had dealt with your issues, number one let's define what those issues were, would you then at that point have reconsidered if he had said, "OK Mac, I need you, I'm still floating around here, everybody's after me, I don't know how to balance the demands on me, who's using me, who's looking after my interests, I need you for advice."

MM     The central issue was both structural and that structure issue was complex because you are now in a period where you were probing and pushing for negotiations, you were organising the ANC and the movement overtly, you were maintaining a clandestine presence and I was saying you cannot maintain a clandestine organisation without it engaging in activity. Now you had to be clear what activity because the activity could not be sabotage, the activity could not be armed action and yet the activity had to be such that that underground organisation, its wheels were all the time well oiled. So that was a complicated issue from structure and purpose.

     Associated with that would be the reportage lines simply to say that Ronnie and I and with time and surfacing of Gebhuza and others, they too would join into the organisation department, that is the organising department. Yes, it was an idea put in to give room to manoeuvre but such room to manoeuvre could only exist structurally if the head of the organising committee was in the know.

POM     Sorry, the head of the organising committee was?

MM     In the know.

POM     Yes, about the underground.

MM     You want him to know, he would look at this behaviour as shoddy work because they can't explain their absence from their posts at all sorts of times.

     Then the third issue after structure and purpose and style would be then how that underground presence could participate like any other ANC member in the decision making processes of the ANC. I think answers could have been found but you could only find the answers if you were very clear about the strategy. In my own experience what had happened until then from the time the Vula operation was busted, my own experience of the reactions I was hearing within the movement is that there was enormous sympathy and pride on the ground amongst ordinary members of the ANC, trade unions and amongst ordinary people. The confusion was among some people –

POM     Pride in?

MM     In the existence of Vula.

POM     This is after it broke?

MM     Yes.

POM     Oh yes, it was written up as –

MM     Up to now people greet me as Vula but the confusion that was arising was limited in the leadership circles and this was leaving the ordinary people on the ground in an insecure position because it depended which leading person they interacted with and one may be explicitly dismissive of Vula, another would be saying they deserve what they're getting, another would be ambivalent in the answer. Now that causes a state of confusion and that confusion would be impacting on the very people that we're organising in the underground.

POM     Were not your issues with Madiba – ?

MM     The answers would have to address this type of problem. They wouldn't be resolved overnight but just to be sensitised on that problem meant that there would have to be a movement forward in discussing strategy.

POM     OK, so you had to have a structural overhaul and that would be predicated on there being a new strategy.

MM     And if that was done I believe that, it's easy to say it, but I think that I would not have reached a point of saying, well I stay out.

POM     You reached a point of saying that you would have?

MM     I would have soldiered on and might have felt that perhaps the correct time to leave would have been to not make myself available to government but then I don't think my family would have allowed that, nor would the movement. No I think I would have withdrawn my staying away.

     I think the issues were not only discussable, I am sure that given the way all the rare occasions that the group, including Madiba and Walter and Mhlaba and Govan and Kathy and JS and Nzo was at one of those meetings, the way that group when they met discussed issues, if it was able to put these issues systematically on the table and discuss it.

POM     But you met as an interim leadership group chaired by Madiba? Right?

MM     Yes. Were these issues ever raised?

MM     No.

POM     Was that the matter because everything was so hectic?

MM     It was hectic and I wasn't clear which would be the forum to discuss that issue. The reason which would be the forum outside to say that an operation such as Vula is entrusted to OR and Madiba, they don't have to report, fine, but inside in a situation where you are moving towards negotiation and any excuse could be used by either side to jettison things, so mechanisms had to be carefully thought out. I referred earlier to the need for the head to have some plausible deniability was an important consideration in my mind. You will remember when I talked about how the marshal structure should be used, my reasoning was in my mind that Madiba can then say, no, no, no, all that that underground was doing besides storing weapons was guarding the leadership. Now you can't object to that.

POM     But this debate if there were this debate at that point, we're talking about things were advancing at such a pace, the outcome of what the strategy would be might depend on where you were in the state of negotiations. For example, just hypothetically, it would seem to me that that would have had to address the issue of OK, we have negotiations and we have an underground. Now do we keep that underground active because we will if negotiations falter badly or collapse, we will resort to the only thing we have left and that is we will resort to the armed struggle.

MM     No, we will have the capability. But the more important consideration, because you're putting it that way, is that – maybe outside were wrong, in all other instances, take the Vietnam talks, they lasted for more than a decade in Paris. Ho Chi-Minh himself attended the talks but the war went on. What this could have done, whether for the good in the long term or bad I don't know, but it would have forced that element of the Harare Declaration to come to its pre-eminent position in the early rounds, the cessation of hostilities, there as a pre-condition. That never arose in the discussion because we, and I was party to it, wanted to push the negotiation process in the face of the other side dilly-dallying, we wanted to take the moral high ground and force the pace but the only instrument we had was suspension of the armed struggle.

POM     I pulled some of the quotes from the papers at that time because they're interesting. You have Joe Slovo saying the armed struggle is suspended but it doesn't mean it's over and that we won't revert to the underground if negotiations fail. You have Chris Hani in the Transkei saying the armed struggle isn't over. This is while you were in jail. And you've the other side saying these guys are following a dual agenda. They used those phrases, the whole bloody thing, everyone was using dual agendas.

MM     The ambiguity of language.

POM     Or like I'm saying is that it would have forced, this kind of debate would have forced the movement to be clear and that would have been difficult at the time.

MM     It would have been difficult in a wider form but it would not have been difficult in a narrow forum of probably about 20 people.

POM     Selected members of the NEC.

MM     Yes, and the people who could select it would be Madiba and Walter in consultation with people like Slovo and Thabo and Zuma, but in consultation.

POM     But they weren't technically – Walter was appointed to the NEC, they were members of the NEC after they came out, technically.

MM     Technically from the time they went to prison the NEC made an announcement that they are regarded as members still of the NEC and treated as such.

POM     OK, with all the privileges that come with being a member?

MM     All the privileges, all those things.

POM     They would have wine delivered every week to Robben Island and there was special food and women came occasionally.

MM     Everything, the works.

POM     That's right. OK.

MM     A la Rivonia.

POM     You actually handed him, "I said, 'Here's my letter', I handed over command." Did you write a letter? This is, "During the weeks I was out I left things to Gebhuza. I went to Durban, I said I am handing over command to you. He didn't know what to say, he was shaking. I said here's my letter, I'm handing over command to you."

MM     Here's my letter, I actually meant the letter that I had sent to Zambia.

POM     That would have been the e-mailed letter?

MM     The communication, not e-mailed, the communication.

POM     No actual letter, no piece of paper involved here.

MM     I would have given him a printout at the Kings Park rally.

POM     We're coming to that. That was earlier, that was end February.

MM     What date?

POM     I think Madiba went to it, he had to go to it before he went to Lusaka.

MM     Yes, yes. I just wondered how soon after he got out. I think it was one of the first rallies. I'm still involved at the rally stage.

POM     Is that Kingsmead?

MM     Yes Kingsmead.

POM     That then was earlier. I'll just put a note there, still involved. He wasn't out for very long.

MM     It looks like it was just a matter of two weeks, by about 1, 2 March he would have asked to see me and we would have met within days.

POM     You're still involved then.

MM     Certainly involved with the Kingsmead rally because I remember interacting with the comrades, asking for reports how things were going, what were they doing, what preparations were being made? I remember Mo was deeply involved in the command structures.

     You've got a question on page 4, is it page 4, bottom of page.

POM     Things like you hadn't been there for quite a while.

MM     Does it make a big impact if I just sit here?

POM     "They're just glad I'm back." They don't even ask what happened?

MM     Yes.

POM     You say let's get down to work because you were away so long, they didn't see you, that's more likely a remark you'd make after you came back to the country than as you came back and went away, weren't around for two weeks and then kind of – let me just fix that up.

MM     They didn't ask any questions and they went back to working at home.

POM     Would you say early March? I'm back, everything is normal.

MM     Yes.

POM     And continue the work.

MM     Normal as if I'd never been away.

POM     I won't put that in because the more likely – that would be a more normal remark to make after you came back to the country from having been out of it than after you hadn't been seen for two weeks. Just say, 'Come March, I'm back, everything is normal, we continued the work.'

MM     My comrades didn't ask for any explanation. Alright, next paragraph.

POM     What was the outcome of committee?

MM     This was where Walter, Madiba, Nzo, Govan. The money, Madiba would arrange the money.

POM     No before, he says the money for our operation is no longer delivered by Lusaka. How was your money taken into the country before?

MM     In the previous period?

POM     Yes.

MM     Well in the previous period couriers would bring it in. This was where, for example, Antoinette was important. Then we would have to borrow from each other particularly between different structures on the ground like I'd borrow from Mo and Mo would borrow from me.

POM     From your accounts or your personal?

MM     I'd just walk over to Mo and say I'm stuck, I need R20,000 and he would say, "I can only manage R10,000." Then when my money comes in I'd give it to him.

POM     Yunus Shaik began to tell me about how that was done and after three and a half hours my tape ran out and it was ten minutes to twelve and I said, "Maybe we'll call it a night. I'll have to come back. He was terrific."

MM     Yes?

POM     Great guys.

MM     Now it's as a result of this, that inter-borrowing arrangement, that we reached a stage where even Mo's structure we could access funds from them but we kept it separate. The other person who would give me bridging money if money had not yet arrived from abroad, is Yunus Mahommed in Jo'burg who was running a pharmacy, I could borrow money from him. No questions. Go to him and say I want R10,000, R15,000, R30,000, he would get the money and some time later I would repay. But our main mechanism for Vula was couriers brought in our money. I still remember, who was the Treasurer? Oh Vusi Khanyile, head of Thebe Investments, the man who escaped with Valli and Murphy, he's now head of Thebe Investments. He's put in the Treasurer's office in 1990 and I remember I go to Madiba and I ask Madiba –

POM     This is in the country now?

MM     In the country. I ask Madiba for a big amount and I said to him I want it in ten and twenty rand notes. Madiba, of course, doesn't think, he says, "Not a problem, how much?" I don't remember how big an amount it was but I specified I wanted it in ten and twenty rand notes because in the underground we had learnt don't flash around big notes. Madiba gives the instruction to the Treasurer's office and says, I don't know who he spoke to, he says, "This money in hard currency, ten and twenty rand notes, get it and contact Mac and deliver it." I didn't know all this is happening, Madiba just said it's been attended to. One day I get a message, come and see Vusi Khanyile and Henry Makgothi urgent. So I go to their office and the two chaps are ashen faced. They're laughing with some chaps they've got a blue canvas plastic bag, you know those canvas bags covered with plastic? Blue one, thick. That is standing there, that high, tied up, and they are saying, "This is yours." I said, "What is it?" They're whispering, they said, "Please, just take the fucking thing out of here. We don't know what this is." So I say, "You know what it is." They say, "No, we know what it is but we don't want to know. Our instructions are just give the fucking thing to you and that's it and we don't know what it's about, why, but please, take it out now because we're not going to be responsible if this thing gets lost." And I say to them, but guys you haven't forewarned me, I can't just take this thing and put it in my car and drive around. I had Mo's Toyota Conquest. They said, "No ways, you're taking this thing now and you're going with it." And it was bloody heavy currency. So I said, "Help me guys, come on, let's go to the basement and put this fucking thing in my car", and we go and put it.

POM     So you're all walking out of there and they're all kind of looking around at these guys full of money.

MM     In the meantime Squire and Vusi are sent to his house, "Why are so many thousands having to be given to this guy who's just come from Moscow, could be very ill."

POM     Who's dying!

MM     "Why did we have to give him so much money? Don't ask questions. Don't ask. That way we don't know."

POM     What happened to him by the way?

MM     Henry?

POM     Yes.

MM     Henry is around, he's gone into some businesses which appears to be mainly setting up ANC businesses that would make money for the ANC and give it an income. He goes from one disaster to another.

POM     Now down here on the Kings Park rally, the Madiba rally at Kingsmead. The answer is yes. "It would not become a paramilitary formation, maintain the underground as an insurance policy with the intention that the underground would continue to organise itself as it did."It's on page 5.Ronnie, this is where we had the insurance policy. I moved it, it was here. He says that it should not become an overt paramilitary force but was able to identify for the enemy who –

MM     No, that it should become.

POM     So the others who said that it should become.

MM     It should operate within an overt paramilitary formation as the marshal structure, that it would do so in such a way that the enemy would not be able to identify it, the MK structure within the marshal structure

POM     I've got it.

MM     The marshal structure would be open. This is not needed and there are commentators who subsequently describe Vula and said insurance policy. The concept of insurance policy only arose in the 1990s.

POM     Subsequently, so it's not – it's after it's in there.

MM     I think we need to be clear here that, yes, that was the sort of view that that group had re-accepted but we were still a long way from developing that concept in practice. It hadn't done anything to develop that concept in practice by the time the arrests came. You would remember that we went out in May and came back in June, appointed to the Organising Committee, July comes another NEC meeting.

POM     I can see how this easily happened. You're Vula, it breaks with negotiations just kind of getting under way. But then you had your own people going around saying the armed struggle isn't over, if negotiations fail we'll go back to the armed struggle, and saying, "Jesus, right here we have a fucking underground we discovered." I mean one and one is two. Now you're sitting in jail and you don't know that these guys are screaming outside about the armed struggle is going to continue.

MM     And others you're hearing are saying these people were wasting their time, they were mavericks and they were doing their own thing.

POM     And then you've Ronnie popping up deciding he's going to do his own little diggity dance at Mike's Kitchen and the rest. He loves it. He can quote Shaun Johnson's article on Mike's Kitchen. This is word for word what Ronnie said to me in an interview. Not even a word – it's like he's memorised the whole article. It was an extraordinary scene. I said I've heard that phrase before. Let me just play around with it again. What I'm saying is that for people to say that since Vula was mooted in 1986, we couldn't be talking about insurance policies if negotiations failed when there weren't even negotiations on the horizon. A hypothetical question there and that would be Vula had become an insurance policy if negotiations totally collapsed.

MM     I think that the ballgame had changed so much.

POM     At that point?

MM     I think that the regime was incapable of bringing about law and order. I think that the underground would have become not just the backbone of the marshal structure but it would have become the backbone of the self-defence units, no longer in the sense of just supplying weaponry. I think that in that part there would have been probably a larger issue for the negotiations to overcome and that is people were taking longer to reach the Record of Understanding but they would have reached it. They would have reached it, the price would have been higher. I don't think we would have reached it quicker.

POM     What we're talking here about is that there was a march towards an inevitability and it could then be a kind of a marathon or it could have been a sprint or it could have been something in between.

MM     Yes. I think what we had in fact was an over long negotiating process.

POM     We'll get back to that and sum up. Now why didn't Vula become more, or the Vula remnants, if one was to call them that, the structures that were there, become the backbone of the SDUs?

MM     I don't know. I know that in that period people like Gebhuza and Ronnie were appointed to the committee that would take charge to help develop the SDUs.

POM     Was Chris in that too?

MM     Chris would have been on it too.

POM     Because he was the one who began to mourn afterwards that this thing had gotten out of hand; what's happened here? We've unleashed and we've lost control.

MM     Because the approach they took was to hand out weapons indiscriminately.If anybody said this is a good guy they got it.

POM     So they didn't take the existing, that's what puzzles me, they didn't take the MK units that had been trained in the country and say you are the guys who are trained.

MM     Not even those trained outside.

POM     You are to become the commanders and make sure –

MM     Yes, you're the officer corps now and you will be complemented by an additional officer corps for developing on the ground and together you will be accountable politically to the following community structure. Because the idea of the SDUs was community control. The theory was, as I understand it, that if it is community controlled they would select their targets properly. But the community control had been taken over by the enemy. It was either in the hands of Inkatha or in the hands of the security forces and you didn't know which one was which. They know now that they just went to Winnie Mandela and she would come to them and say, "Chaps, Vosloorus needs arms. Phola Park needs arms." And they'd say, "Where do you get them?" She says, "I'll send somebody." And they must give it and they gave it. [That shows, and I don't want to be on record, but the three of them as a committee just had no idea what they were doing when they were saying 'self-defence units'.] And they would be the first, some of them would agree that they handed out weapons indiscriminately.

POM     Yes, before he died Chris Hani was saying this is –

MM     What the mobsters –

POM     We made mistakes, this should not have happened. It's interesting as to why it happened when it should not have and there were structures in place already trained for two years within the country, people coming back that could have moved in.

MM     And the issue was that those structures could not move from a situation where they were being trained to act as a solid hierarchy and suddenly be told to act on their own. You are living in Phoenix, you do your thing with the Phoenix SDU. You live in Inanda, you do your thing with the Inanda SDU. You were suddenly making the same mistake, because the person is trained, the person is now commanding. The issue of commander in every area of life who is driving that process has become a crucial person. If you don't have the right person it's gone. There you look at Nedbank, look at that, a year ago it was said it was the blue-eyed boy of the banking sector. Now what they say, they say it was a disaster. They were singing the praises of Richard Laubscher, they're now saying Richard Laubscher was the biggest arsehole who didn't know what he was doing.

POM     Did he get a good exit package?

MM     He got his nine million.

POM     He's not crying. He can take it.

MM     That's the problem. That's the only reason why I'm crying, I didn't get my nine million. But I'm glad you have that, that Chris himself said it had become a disaster. Go and ask the same question of Ronnie and you'll see how he will dodge. He won't accept that they made a mess up.

POM     I'll have to go in holding one of those abstinence, temperance badges, saying, "Ronnie, no more of that."

MM     And he will straightaway suspect that temperance badge as being a place where you've got a bug.

POM     Why would you have that in there? You have, "Nothing happens, a month later I'm released in December, the six months is up and I retire quietly." I put that in. OK. Then, "The ANC's consultative conference held at Nasrec in December and the papers remark that I am not present. I am not present because my six months has expired, I've done my job, I've helped him to breach this period. I've had my quarrels with Joe Slovo so I've definitely retired." That's an odd phrase to throw in there.

MM     Because I told you, this is a funny thing, I told you that I felt that Madiba should be left in a position of plausible deniability, so who in my mind was the most suitable person to be overall in charge of this process? To me it was Slovo.

POM     This process of?

MM     Of the underground. Organising Committee is there, we're doing overt organising. What about that covert part that we've discussed? Who's heading that? To me the way Vula had been operating the head was OR and JS. When OR goes it's JS and Nzo. Now, and I know Nzo didn't do anything, to me when we discussed it with the small committee, Madiba is now present and I raise the question that, look, you need to bury this underground, you need to do it in such a way that it doesn't incriminate those who are leading the process of negotiations. So to me JS, that's post still, who would come through you, you would be the sort of bridge because I understood that now people like Madiba, JS, Walter would go back to working together closely because they would be with OR too, but I saw it as the same leadership of that period. Now at the level of the clandestine work would clear the President of not having big meetings or just coming down to us, but the channel through which it would come down to us would be Slovo because he knew the terrain best and he had the authority, he had the authority. I didn't think it was a job that now says Mac, you take over. I didn't think that we had that sort of authority.

POM     Why would you say, you were familiar with – you were the only one there who was familiar with the country and with the actual operations of the underground and you had relations with the overt legal, now legal, well then legal UDF, COSATU, all the mass movements?

MM     In my mind I still saw the leadership as made up of the Madibas and the Walters and the Slovos.

POM     I'm getting to the sentence, you said, 'my quarrels with Joe Slovo', the quarrels referred to are?

MM     Groote Schuur Minute.

POM     And the other was with the SADF.

MM     There is the role of the underground, right? I think the quarrels are –

POM     At that point you never thought of going back to Madiba and saying, Madiba, our six months are up?

MM     The period was so hectic, you could hardly get to discuss with anybody let alone Madiba. To sit and discuss the area of the underground even with Slovo was becoming increasingly difficult because his mind was elsewhere.

POM     I know, I used to hang out in … he used to hang out there. Utter, total chaos. It was like one big mob scene all the time, everywhere.

MM     And you can imagine they even put aside a room where Madiba and Walter and Govan and Raymond Mhlaba could have a sleep, beds and all that, they said people must rest. Now more worry was then about that. A simple thing of saying, look, they need to rest, they'll jump in the car and go.

POM     OK Mac, we're done. Another one done. I'll finish that one off and send it back to you. I'll send all these back to you in finished form. I don't know whether you've done this but that big tome you took of the first part of your life, you should give that to somebody to read. Somebody with a good critical eye to your own life who knows you. There might be something you left out completely.

MM     Who the hell knows me when I was young? Who the hell knows me?

POM     No-one Mac, that's true. On second thoughts, why would I ever make such a silly suggestion.We'll go to your leaving the SACP. No we'll do the one before that, Madiba, because that's an important one, we need more work on it. The one on Madiba's sell-out.

MM     That one has just got to wait for me, I've got to discuss this with Ivan. Zarina was talking about arranging a dinner with Ismail and Zamilla, Ismail Ayob, because this whole thing about Madiba's sell-out, everything is hanging on this question of just get the first thing straight and did Ayob bring out that message?

POM     Things went into it, how did the Harare Declaration go in? He had to put it in something.

MM     Taking in was not a problem for him.

POM     He just put documents in a bag.

MM     You can give it to me now.

POM     He would roll it up into a small little thing.

MM     Into such a small thing and I'd make into a 2½ cm wide piece of paper and I could make a printout on thin A4 paper, cut it up and roll it up.

POM     So if you were getting a response from him and you said you made no changes to it, all you were doing you'd have to say in fact to Ayob is regarding something, everything is fine with me.

MM     The insurance policy, thank you very much and please attend to my daughter's education. The point is that while many lengthy things went in to him I recall only the one lengthy thing from him to us, to OR, and that was that letter. It was the lengthiest thing that came out from him. The rest was short enough and a multiplicity of items, five, six items, issues, so that Ayob could make a note and Momo could take a note, point A this issue, this is - no problem. Point B, he is inviting people from the Mass Democratic Movement, he has invited Harry Gwala, etc., from Natal in one group, he is contemplating calling the trade unions in another group, things like that, not a problem. We wouldn't want him to tell us what is he going to say to them because that's not the issue, OR has sent him a briefing which if he disagreed with it he would have commented, there was a methodology in this thing. But I remember one of the items that OR raised was not to say that negotiations were bad but to say we're going to come under intense pressure as we are experiencing abroad that around the question of negotiations the pressure to abandon our weapons of struggle, sanctions, the armed struggle, etc., etc., OR said we must be careful because while we want to push the negotiation thing we cannot prematurely give up our weapons of struggle. If we are forced to give them up the one thing we must not give up is international sanctions because if we demobilise that one to rebuild it is going to take another 20 years.

     So that was there, Madiba has no problem, in fact he's grateful; thank you very much, it's been very useful and I have no differences because I'm only saying to the regime talk to the ANC, not to me. Talk to me to get rid of your inhibitions that you're talking to the ANC. That's all I'm talking. You say to me, "Is there another method?" Yes there are methods, how do you reconcile the principle of majority rule with the concerns of white fears? There are all sorts of bridging mechanisms that can be created but that has to be negotiated. Understand that there are bridging methods that can be devised.

     So Madiba's messages would be briefing OR of what is happening on his side without going into great lengths about it because he has summarised all the issues extensively. He has dealt with the exact arguments that he is using of violence as an impediment to negotiations and he's been bolstered by the Harare draft declaration because it says there cessation of hostilities is an item to be discussed and he hasn't said we will renounce violence. He's been bolstered that the alliance with the Communist Party, the ANC said in Harare, it supports this thing but once it's accepted by the frontline states and accepted by the OAU and by the UN the ANC will publicly take a position that that's a requirement of the UN, we are conforming to it. He's happy with it.

     So the longest communications would have been from OR to him.

POM     That's going in.

MM     Via Ismail.

POM     And the longest one coming out from him would have been in March 1988.

MM     The letter that I say, my notes say, there's a different reference, I didn't have time last night, I say was sent by him to PW in March 1988 although there is a reference in August 1988 to say to him that Mandela wrote to PW Botha.

POM     When did that letter – this goes back to the chapter on Mandela's sell-out that you were talking about. When does the March 1988 letter come out?

MM     It comes out some time late in 1988.

POM     Well you come into the country 1 August.

MM     Somewhere between August and December.

POM     This is where we have to pin down here because you have down here yourself, Madiba wrote to PW Botha in 1989. "The letter that I used to prove to Valli that Madiba was not selling out. I knew Ismail was going to go to Mandela some time I had to go and see him as an intermediary."

MM     For me to say he wrote the letter in 1989, even when the letter was given I don't recall it saying, "I sent this letter on this and this date."

POM     What I'm saying is the confusion is the letter we know he wrote in 1989, it's the one that he wrote in July of 1989.

MM     Well that's not it. That's definitely not it. It could not be it.

POM     You said find it in Allister Sparks, find it in Mandela Speaks. It's in Mandela Speaks?

MM     That one I gave you my copy of Mandela Speaks. Have you got it here?

POM     I don't think so.

MM     I've got several versions of different Mandela Speaks.

POM     I know I have it at home.

MM     I know I gave you my copy. The one that I've got is Mandela Speaks, all his speeches since 1990.

POM     Well if it's all his speeches since 1990 then it wouldn't be in there. This was in 1988.

MM     Yes. Those are his public speeches.

POM     OK I'll go and look for it. Leave that chapter until you talk to Momo or whoever, we'll do it next time.

MM     Also you see it would have taken me from August, taken me a little bit of time no matter how fast I worked to size up Ayob and understand that he has got the gap here of reaching Madiba. And Madiba would have had to be removed to Victor Verster. Oh! And Madiba is moved to Victor Verster in December 1988. Because that's the big change in the environment that the visits to Madiba are now taking place at Victor Verster and the environment is relaxed. So the only contention I have is, OK, they may have installed hidden cameras, videos, etc., etc., but what's the staff? He says Gregory and one other warder and Madiba has the freedom and he has this sitting room. So that's all that's there, no other officers, etc., well that suggestion. Listening and/or cameras everywhere but the outlets would become visible but what you can do is you can conceal and I'm there at that strategic point but you can't see under his table. If you had to really rig up this room that nothing could pass between us without it being seen your angle of vision would require four or five camera eyes. It's relaxed enough to break through and that's Victor Verster.

POM     OK. We'll leave this chapter and go to the SACP.

MM     SACP now, where, resigning from the SACP.

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