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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
06 Sep 2004: Maharaj, Mac
POM OK, let's get down to business. You can give me very quick replies except when I say 'elaborate', OK?
I'm going back to there's a communication to Nyanda from Pete, that would be Ivan. This is in November 1989. It says your re-entry is targeted for January, then Ronnie for April, end of February. Then it says Philip's boss, Solly, that's Zuma, targeted for April 1990. I am just asking you again, was any decision made about making Zuma part of Vula?
MM Not that I can recall, not at that stage. For me what is interesting is that when you say November that's a communication, that means to say I would have been the Ronnie thing would have been settled, the question of Zuma had not arisen, maybe it was something that arose after Walter and them's visit as a possibility to say that he should think of settling. But I would think that he would have been for re-entry with permission of the regime because he was leading a delegation for the discussions inside SA about the mechanics, the amnesty question, the delegations coming, the protection, temporary indemnity, the length of indemnity.
POM But I'm saying that in November he wasn't involved in those discussions.
MM When did the discussions start? I think the discussions had started by November.
POM By November of 1989?
MM Yes, I think that with the oh I see, yes.
POM It's November 1989. He meets with Mike Louw in Geneva in December but he's not inside he's only meeting with the Afrikaner group. OK, we won't spend time on this, just that he was named for entry. Oh yes I want to ask you, well I do quickly, in 1989 you guys had nailed Francis Meli as being an enemy agent.
POM In 1989 yes, he crops up in the coms of 1989.
MM What period?
POM It would be April, May, June.
MM Before I leave.
POM You were there because you had an exchange that you came upon it first and you brought it to OR's attention and then it went into Bible and it came up in Bible too. He's sitting at every meeting in 1990 for which we have minutes, that includes up to and including the first meeting in SA, he's sitting on the NEC, he's participating in every discussion.
MM Yes but we would be mindful those NEC meetings would not be discussing, oh, mind you, yes.
POM Yes they were. This is where you're laying out all the problems. He's a member of the NEC and he attends every meeting. You guys haven't cloaked him. I just don't get it. That's all.
MM Well I suppose in the early stages when we got that information they still couldn't act on it, they had to verify for themselves and having verified they would have been talking about what to do now and often Intelligence could well say, "No, no, no, let's leave him and let's use him to feed false information in the middle of real information." But I'm not aware of what happened.
POM The same applies to Peter Mokaba. There are two instances here in communications where you have to get him out of the country, that he should make his confessions. One says, "A concern of comrades is the continued presence of PM on the ground, continues to give problems, they suggest he make admission of his connection with the enemy outside the country as soon as possible. This should be in the presence of an MDM contingent. He should then resign as President of SACO. PM currently involved in attempts to dissolve present youth leadership structures and lobby which he claims is under influence of cabal." Then there's that and then later on
MM All I know is that he was called to Lusaka. I know when I passed through Lusaka he was in Lusaka and what discussions took place, or the outcome of the discussions, I don't know.
POM But then you guys tried to recruit him for the Communist Party. It says, "Has the matter of his confessions or whatever been cleared up?" Was he ever recruited to the party?
MM Not that I'm aware of. My matter would have arisen in 1990 now.
POM That's right, yes.
MM We're nearing the launch.
POM And his name was coming up for inclusion?
MM Was coming up and I was saying, "Well, can you tell us what the specialist division is saying?" because when I had passed through Lusaka I became aware that he was in Lusaka and therefore I assumed that nothing had happened, they had worked out a strategy what to do, they had talked to him, they got his version, they've weighed up matters and they've worked out a set of strategy and tactics what to do about it. So I am saying now this matter is cropping up, can you guys check up with Intelligence and tell us what we should be doing, not for general information but for me to know at the leadership level how do we handle it.
POM Then there's the question of Terror again, trying to get Terror to go to Johannesburg with Billy Nair to meet with Walter and to add members of the underground. It just says, the extract says, "We did not insist that before the Tuesday launch Masher and TL, or Masher alone should journey to Jessie's to see X. If that happened TL could not see his way to any additions. Carol would fill you in on the meeting but the atmosphere was such that we felt it would do no good if we dug our heels in. As indicated in our previous report, TL was basically concerned about his mandate from the top and if he gets further instructions he will abide by them." Did he ever accommodate you guys or did that all just go sour?
MM I can't recall.
POM OK, if you can't recall.
MM It no longer was a big issue. All I was saying is that, chaps, these are problems arising and they are caused by a wrong approach. Get the approach right andthen they are resolvable. I think you will find that I would have reported also to the comrades, I would have reacted to the comrades by saying Terror is a good chap, don't get carried away by this friction of the moment. My understanding of Terror was a chap who shoots from the hip. I would be saying this is a good chap, this guy broke away from BC in prison, one of the first breakaways. He suffered assault and he was in the leadership group and he helped to draw people away to another point view. So I am saying he's a good chap.
POM When Mandela took him out of the Free State and put him in the National Council of Provinces, I always remember when Mandela was announcing it and Terror was beside him looking very subdued and Terror was asked what did he think of his appointment and he kind of looked up and said, great timing, "Well I spent 12 years on Robben Island."
An IPC document, would that be the Internal Political Committee?
POM That would be in Lusaka, would it?
MM By Ronnie and it had Sue Rabkin and others in it.
POM OK, that would be in Lusaka, right?
MM In Lusaka, yes.
POM That would be the one because they drew up a to build in the ANC underground.
MM The underground and we were commenting on it, yes.
POM Lovely. I note as I go through these things the way Ronnie writes to Tim Jenkin and the way he writes to his wife and the way he is adoring of Joe Slovo. Adoring.
MM It's the only way Ronnie could operate. He is a person who has to have an idol.
POM That's fine, moving on here. I have your statement on the party of the new type which is good, takes everything into account. Again, I come back to that name, if you'd write it down, Thandeka. "She is recuperating very well in Cape Town. Of course we shall be happy to hear from you as soon as possible how far her sick leave will extend, particularly given the fact that you suggested to us that her leave would not be long. What are your plans in this period?" You're sending that to it doesn't say who sent this one actually. The name doesn't strike you?
MM Well I know a person with the real name but I couldn't imagine that that should be featuring in the underground period.
POM Now this is, again, about Harry and prior to his coming up, that meeting in June. You say, this is just 23 May,you were sending it 1 June, "We are also suggesting that you should forward to us a report on the outcome of the CC meeting in a form which can ultimately be incorporated in this bound volume", that's the Tongaat minutes? "To be placed in front of the report and then to get a previous of amendments and the report and text for a CC meeting in our hands by the 11th so we can have the documents produced (and make) arrangements."Would the CC make suggestions as to who should be included in the core leadership that would be announced?
MM The CC had initiated the matter by making a recommendation.
POM So the CC made the recommendation that Harry should be included?
POM CC, also who wanted Harry in were Billy Nair, Nyanda and Ronnie.
POM That's fine, that's all I need.
MM I think at that stage I was the only one because I was raising the questions not only of his conduct but the party of the new type. I'm coping with what is the role that the party must play.
POM We come to home based individuals. "I don't have the notes with me at present and I think perhaps the best way out of this matter would be for the CC to look at the suggestions you have, have its own thinking, and still leave the matter for finalisation by the politburo early in July so that we can put more thinking into the question. It is also for example, Theo has questions of CR with Nataba(?) and he has undertaken to make some written information available on a confidential basis. At the same time Nataba was sensitive to the aspects and my impression was that he was looking at the matter in a broad and positive sense. Similarly we need to take into account the signing of the ANC, COSATU and possibly in some instances other bodies, the UDF national. For all these and other reasons I'm suggesting the finalisation should allow for a little more time but all this is subject to the CC."Whatever happened with Cyril?
MM That meeting with Zuma was because JS and them had my reports of my working record with Cyril and I was now saying we are heading for we have not formally recruited him, he's been doing things that are good for the party, he has been taking NUM to meet the party abroad and going to the Soviet Union, sent a delegation. So how now to decide? And they were saying that JZ's section has suspicions about CR. I said, "What are they, what's the basis?" because remember I have worked with him so closely in the country that it would be very, very difficult to believe that the regime had not been informed in some way that we are present and we would be picking it up. So JS said Zuma is coming into the country, in and out, can we arrange a meeting between Zuma and myself and him, and remember Zuma was in the politburo. So Zuma and I met and I asked him for the basis of his suspicion. They were largely circumstantial and he then argued that he would go and check further and I said, "You have to bring something substantive so that one can talk seriously, rather than the circumstantial." So he said, "OK, I will do that, I will look into it." I was saying to him, "Look at the whole record, your circumstantial evidence takes you one way, my circumstantial evidence takes me the other way. Then look at the role the man has been playing." So he said, "OK". Now that matter, I met him in May, come June end of May I'm gone out of the country, I come back middle of June into a legal basis, start the Organising Committee and I've already had my showdown in the party in July around the Harry thing and it's all over.
POM He was never recruited?
MM I don't know what happened. By the way, I made another recommendation in June I think, and I said that in the surfacing of the party we should keep what I called 'D category', now that D category existed pre-1964, that is people whose identities we did not want at any cost to be known and usually they were people who we did not think the regime would suspect. I was saying let's create another category this time, still D, that is of some very, very prominent people in the struggle who should not be known as party people, and I thought that Cyril should be considered for that. So I made the suggestion, the matter was left and I do not know what happened thereafter.
POM Now would that be a member of the party or a member of CC?
MM Member of the party. Once you became a D and you became a member of the party you would not be brought into any normal structure.
POM Of course, then you'd be known.
MM And I don't recall what the party eventually decided. My own view is that there was a debate on the party, mass based party and vanguard party, and in that debate I think the whole issue of D category got lost. I think the decision was to go for a mass based party.
POM Now we move on. You have raised the question of John being sent in. John?
MM That might have been Tim Jenkin. I think we were now talking
POM About sending people in.
MM The unbanning has taken place, get him in so that he can supervise, while being legal he can do the underground communications.
POM And Reynolds, would have been? Would that have been Ronnie Press to stay outside?
MM Could be, yes.
POM Do things on the outside. OK. This is again Francis Meli present. I don't get it but that's the way it goes. On 20th June there is a meeting of the ANC/ILC meeting, a full meeting. One of the things you do is analyse Groote Schuur and what came out of it and what reports have got to be done.
MM Analyse what?
POM What reports, it said, and other problems regarding the release of prisoners. Jacob Zuma gave a report on it, "Our perception is that Inkatha should not be included in any arrangements for Natal. The regime accepted they would make separate arrangements with Inkatha. This is for the channel of communication, for monitoring. It goes through releases and things like that. But my question to you is, this is now on 23 June, why didn't you raise the matter that you had taken Joe Slovo to task about? This final report had not yet been written on Groote Schuur, the two parties still have to come back to their respective masters and were making amendments and things like that. Why didn't you ever raise the matter of protection for the members of the underground?
MM 23 June. Did I raise it?
MM No I wouldn't raise it. I've raised it with Slovo.
POM You're at the meeting now. You're at the meeting and people are making input.
MM No at the meeting, no I'm not interested in raising it at the meeting because the Groote Schuur Minute has been signed off.
POM No, no, it's still people are still, it's signed but it's not signed. It's like signed but both sides were sent back to their respective to the ANC.
MM That direction has been issued publicly.
POM The Groote Schuur Minute had been issued but then it raised issues in it and those issues, mechanisms had to be created to address those issues.
MM Yes. I don't remember why I didn't raise it at the meeting. I don't want to pretend that I didn't raise it because Francis Meli was present. That didn't affect me. My recollection is that now I had raised this matter with Slovo, the Groote Schuur Minute was issued, had been publicly announced. We were now facing problems in the implementation and I would expect Slovo and them, because they were going to put it I don't believe that they were going to sell out the underground, so they would be looking at the mechanics how to insert names into the list that Zuma and them were going to get indemnity for.
POM Well Zuma begins with his report, it says, "The report has not yet been finalised. The Groote Schuur meeting appoint a working group with a deadline to report by 21 May." Of course that wasn't done. "The main issue for discussion was the definition of physical prisoners, political prisoners, the terms of their release, repressive legislation. When the report was completed both parties in the working group would report to their respective parties. Its report was made by the ANC group to the ANC leadership, the report was discussed by it."
MM You've got it, now I recall. You see, Padraig, if I raised it at that meeting, this is the man who is supposed to be ill all these years. Now I raise a thing like that at the meeting already people are saying, "How come this guy is thinking of this?" To me I've alerted Slovo and them, they have to find the mechanics of raising the matter at which forum.
POM Got you. OK. On we move. Kate, who's Kate?
POM It says, and this is some message to this is on 26 June and it's from Ronnie and you. It says, "No-one to visit Daniel's house at Message from Kate indicates possible surveillance. Kate is leaving the country in view of this. She is not green and would be able to assess and has been here before so do not touch at all."
MM No, I don't know. It would have been probably one of the people who had worked, expatriates, foreigners who were working in the country for Ronnie when he was in Military Intelligence, that he would have drawn them into Vula side for accommodation, etc.
POM Andy we identified as being?
MM Solly Shoke.
POM Yes. You were hard on these guys, Mac, you take Ronnie over the coals and then you take Nyanda over the coals.
MM But, Padraig, I never held it against them.
POM I know, I know what you mean, because I can see, I want to tell you, which is very interesting to me, if I look at the coms that you did and the exchanges between you, Slovo and OR and then I look at the ones after the unbanning of the ANC, the ones that Ronnie writes are in a completely different style, they're in the style of somebody who is very relaxed about what he is doing and very laid back. It comes across in the writing, there's no terseness, there's his jokes.
MM There's no life and death issue there.
POM It's like I'm here and things are great. I'm enjoying myself and, I'll tell you what, I'll tell you what I've been doing.
MM Having a great time. And I was very hard because to me we were the ones who should be the example and the structures. Your only sanction in an underground, you can't expel, you can't start saying I'm going to assassinate you and I'm going to court martial you, none of those things have meaning. The only thing that has meaning is that you, the commander and the leadership, have got to act and yourself be models.
POM OK, I want to save time. I know exactly what you are saying.
MM I want to eat supper with my family, we've not even milk in our room. OK carry on.
POM Not even milk Ronnie didn't even get the milk either? Nothing you can do but not give him the milk. Gee!
MM And Joey is listening to the trouble you're giving me.
POM Well tell her she's next. But I will be nice to Joey. The meeting, again, of the NEC on 23rd. What comes across, this is just my drawing a conclusion, is that despite participation in negotiations of the past few days, lack of clarity of where we are in relation to the whole issue of negotiations, has there been no NEC which met and reports on the matter, has there been no report by JZ on this? When I want to ask comrades, NEC, how to judge and assess the stage we're at, no-one really seems to understand. What is needed here is not a recap but for the NEC to attempt to analyse where we are. Then you have reports of someone saying Cheryl Carolus didn't know that she was on the Groote Schuur delegation till about an hour before it took place and Trevor Manuel was to go with Mandela after the Sebokeng massacre and he was complaining that he didn't know about it either. What I'm trying to say is that everything that was going on that appears in the first part of 1990, at least while you were there, that there was and there were complaints because I remember being in the ANC office in Sauer Street and the absolute chaos there, but you have reports from the regions of guys saying if you go out to the regions, try to go to a regional office it takes you an hour to get through on the telephone and then when you get through you ask for somebody and then nobody ever comes back to the phone. Things were chaos at that point. Too many things were happening on too many fronts simultaneously.
MM And nobody was attending to their own little areas of work. Everybody was involved, getting involved, sticking their nose into everything. You get to the office, you're called in on every problem.You're assigned a task, get on to your task, people who've got their task do that, you start pulling the organisation to them.
POM Now you have said here in one meeting, again, this is the Organising Committee for Natal, of Natal was not represented. "Secondly, we should move away from the Lusaka traditional appointments. There should at least be consultation with the relevant structures. There are people we don't know." When you say the 'Lusaka tradition of appointments' what do you mean by that?
MM I was meaning the top down, the exclusively top down appointments.
POM Got it. Next. Now when you came back from, well of course you didn't, when you came back from, just clearing it up, from your brief, legally, and you found the state that the things that Nyanda had done, you didn't find any unencrypted documents?
MM I hadn't gone down to Durban.
POM He was in Durban, OK.
MM He was in Durban and I got a report from Janet saying she's on her way.I said, "What are you all up to?" My concern was you are doing the same things the way the ANC is, it's going to be chaotic.
POM Now you just before you left had a meeting where you had said that you were making plans to move into Cape Town and you were going to meet with Chris, Sabata Sabata was?
MM Charles Nqakula.
POM And there was a third person and you wanted to spend a couple of weeks with them. You wanted to spend a couple of weeks with them showing them how the whole communications system worked so they could become familiar with it.
MM No, the idea of spending that period with Chris and Charles was to get to know the situation, the people and the problems. On that basis I had already made a preliminary observation. I had received a report from Slovo and them that they were asking us to take over that operation in Cape Town because it was going nowhere except demanding more and more money from Lusaka. They were saying, "Please take it under your command." I was saying, "You are dealing with people who have already settled, you don't walk in there and just say, "Do this, do that, do that." You go in there, you feel out the problem and slowly nurse them towards a better understanding and style of work.
POM So Chris at this point was going to get involved?
MM Chris would be involved because I would need him because if I have to pull the structure I can't allow Chris to be communicating one side with them and I am asked to communicate with them. I need to make sure that we are talking the same language and we are moving in the same style of work. My meeting with Charles persuaded me that they were not anywhere rooted in the MDM, they had gravitated more towards, I can't remember names, but I have an impression, and I wouldn't say this publicly, towards ultra left people. If you asked, "Are you rooted, have you got contact with COSATU regions? Have you got a contact with the Mass Democratic Movement, got contact with the MDM?" No. And yet we had a party committee there where people like Trevor Manual were connected and Trevor Manuel had been recruited in Botswana some years before. So you needed to get there and not, like a person who doesn't know and start pushing, and maybe sort of your own views would change as you get to understand the people. So that was the idea and when Gebhuza reacted saying he was only doing what I was going to do, he was looking at the problem technically as if it was a question of showing them the communications, no, I would have given them a communications technique to communicate with us but I would not have given them the technique that we were using for head office. And besides, I had a deep concern, look Gebhuza had Susan and now Susan was getting to know Cape Town. Janet was getting to know Cape Town, so who else was getting to know the people in Cape Town? So these were concerns, they were not saying that you're going to do it this way and that way but saying, hey guys, I just went out for two weeks and we are in a huge state of transition. You are moving so fast that you're going to lose control. Have you sat back and looked at it?
POM Would you ascribe this in part, I mean if I was looking at it I would say that there was a psychological mind shift after the unbannings and they were seeing people who had been in exile and couldn't be in the country kind of walking around and they were underground and just psychologically there was a different they began to develop a different attitude that it was over, so to speak.
MM We can operate with impunity.
POM It says K, K indicated that JQ, would that be Johannesburg headquarters, or J seemed to be looking at it more realistically, at the question of how to build the underground. That in this context the NEC had
MM I think that was a mistake, a typographical error for JZ.
POM JZ. What would he have to do with the building of the underground?
MM Well he would be also connected with the PMC/ITC.
POM That's the Political Military Council.
MM And he would be partly politburo and therefore head of Intelligence, Counter-intelligence therefore he is, I would say he's being shaped now in the right way.
POM Just let me go through what K indicated. "He'd be looking at it a little more realistically, at the building of the underground, but in this context the NEC had before it a proposal from the PMC that in each of the regions there should be one person in the ILC who was from MK. He commented that the presence of such a person was fraught with dangers in that it could compromise the overt structures. This remark coupled with his statement that our proposals re the Organising Committee had not been raised. The fact that despite the meeting of the eight where it was argued it would be a small body such as the eight plus, plus those in charge of the President's Project, plus whoever, they would finally constitute the Vula Committee, should be the only ones in the know about who and how we are proceeding to build the underground, including the military work." That means that the way you guys wanted to go about it was gaining ground.
POM Now who were the Vula Committee ?
MM It would be JS.
POM The one refers, there are a number of references to the Vula it says 'to the eight'. The eight are? Who are the eight?
MM The eight would be Madiba, Walter, Raymond Mhlaba, Govan Mbeki, Joe Slovo, Alfred Nzo, myself and possibly JZ.
POM OK, we can move it right on.
MM Or it could have even meant Ronnie but Ronnie had not yet been drawn in. Can we wind up because I've got to take my family for a meal?
POM Then we will have to continue tomorrow, OK? Tomorrow afternoon, because I have to get this to Judy. Is Joey there?
MM Possibly later tonight when I've had dinner?
POM OK. I'll go to dinner too and then we'll get back at it when you come in. Have a nice dinner. Tell Joey I want to talk to her too and that I'll call her.
This is just confirming something. There's a reference here that you have on 24 June 1990, and this is where you said Donald would be coming into the country around the end of June. Besides the equipment you apparently have it appears that is out but is currently required to store two pieces which were in the hands of the enemy group planning Madiba's assassination. I guess they're the guns that you were going to use for the hit on the two security guys?
POM OK. This is the first notification, on the 29 June, you get an e-mail saying, "We have a probable security problem at hand. Francis has been missing since the weekend. David also didn't turn up for work on Monday."
MM That's the 29 June?
POM 29 June 1990.
MM Let me just do a check.They had gone out that weekend of the 24,25 June, didn't come back by the Monday and Durban decided to inform me by the 19th.
POM I was just loading on Francis. He had only been cleared for he hadn't been very long in. He'd been cleared the previous June to come in. Now I read the testimony of the officers applying for amnesty where they had him down
MM As an agent.
POM Down as an agent, where the judge more or less rejected what you were saying as being, where you said he wasn't, that there was convincing evidence that he was rather than he wasn't. That's what he was saying. In retrospect what do you believe?
MM I still don't believe that he was because while we were in when the arrests started and after the detention, either in detention or as soon as I got out of detention I got the report at a time when nobody knew where's Francis and where Charles and Mbuso were. The report said that Charles was seen at Natal University library at a spot which was at one time used as a DLB. Now the moment I heard that rumour I said wrong, that's not true. That's a borrowing, an adaptation of what happened in a different case a few years ago in the eighties where a chap called Michael was revealed as an NIS agent and he was partly involved in the episode which led to the arrest of comrades. Interestingly it was the arrests of, now looking back, it was Bulelani and Patrick Maqubela and company, where the library was used as a dead letter box. Now we now know that Charles was killed and he was killed early in July. Why would they put out the story that he was seen at Natal University except to mislead us to thinking that Charles was still alive and was working for the enemy? But who would put out that story except for the enemy again? And if he was their man and they had already killed him why try to make us think that he was still working for them and still alive? So I can't say for sure, I can't put my head on a block, we requested him, he was cleared.
POM This is Ronnie to you on 5 May and this is about his response to the document prepared by Billy Nair, his response to the IPC document and building the underground. He forcibly argues there, as I said, that it should not be in any way seen as an insurance policy. Now I'm only saying that, I don't care what he said later, I'm trying to put it in the context of the time because in our interviews you've said that he was arguing for it to be an insurance policy, but he wasn't.
MM No, I am saying that at the meeting of the eight, we'd been discussing this question from February onwards, what is going to be the role, what is the purpose, why do we need an underground, what happens to MK? Now these are questions that have become topical, they are now being debated as such in the underground and we are developing views. Ronnie's is a response to the IPC document that came from Lusaka. Right? Based on discussions and he's very strong there, I agree with you, no insurance policy. But what I recall is that by the time in when is that meeting of the Group of Eight where I say, and there's a communication that's reporting that I have put the issue and the group supported the view, not an insurance policy but a different type of underground?
POM What communication is that because I don't think I've been able to locate that one funnily enough?
MM Haven't located it, I can't remember referring to it myself at the moment while we're talking.
POM It would have been after May anyway.
MM Yes it's after May.
POM I'll look for it.
MM Or is it before? The Madiba meetings are when? In April?
POM That's in April you have the Madiba meeting. There was another one scheduled and it didn't take place.
MM You say another one took place?
POM No I don't know, there's no record of one after that taking place.
MM We had at least I don't know whether we had a full house each time but we had at least formally three meetings and then informally, one to one, one to two people: Madiba, JS, myself, Walter; myself, Walter; myself, Madiba, those sort of meetings took place but they would not have the stature of some formally constituted meeting whose decisions are now binding. But anyway, I can't remember, you are raising this matter, there is this communication of Ronnie in which he's arguing. I told you yesterday to look at the conclusion of those recommendations on that viewpoint. We dealt with the structure.
MM Now you will realise that we were saying that the command, the decision making body and controls, would rest with the political, not with MK.
POM He wants it to stay with the political not MK?
MM Yes. Now look at the structure that he recommended. Did he recommend a militia? I think so. Did he recommend MK to continue to exist? I think so. In addition to that I think he also recommended self defence units. Am I right?
MM How would each of those three structures engaged in paramilitary activity be controlled and commanded? Would each have its own separate command structure, MK, the militia and the self defence units? Or are these three separate functions belonging to the same unit? No answer in that proposal. That is what allows him later on to slip, in my opinion, because my view was a single structure which would provide the officer corps and through that officer corps guide the defence activity, guide the potential and possible MK actions and guide and be involved as and when MK is necessary to act. But its manifest formation would be concealed within the mass structure because at that stage we had not yet come to the view of establishing self defence units. Now it is that area that allowed a difference of viewpoint to emerge over time. Whether it would have emerged had we not had the arrests of July is a moot question because the communication that you are referring to shows that certainly in that communication Ronnie appreciated the need not to present it as an insurance policy. So we were of like mind on the general issue but we may not have been so when it came to implementing it and had we had the opportunity to talk to each other, being in the leadership body, we would have been able, I believe, to have found a way forward. I don't want to take it further. To take a further position would be wrong.
POM Yes, OK. What we don't have is your input.
MM You can assume that it was not just a once-off input from Ronnie, it was a discussion going on. I am sure, there is no problem in my mind that that communication shows that, as I said to you last night, the whole concept, the words 'insurance policy' came up through Ronnie's interview with the media. Maybe I'm wrong, I was in detention and it may be that the media misinterpreted it wrongly.
POM I will try to get hold of whatever he said at the time and what he says in his book. There are two matters, and I'll go back to them, and let's try to work them out better try, or maybe we can't, I just want to go back to for a couple of minutes. They give me concern because I'm a reader and I am reading you and I am reading that here you are, the movement is things are legal, it's like the second and final stage of the struggle has begun. First thing you do back in the country is you send in your retirement. That gets an explanation back from Joe Slovo that is satisfactory in most ways in terms of the structures, the people put in place. Now last night I recall you saying, well you got no assurances that Govan would be put on a leash and that Nzo wasn't going to make the same gaffes again. Well no-one could honestly say that he wouldn't and who was going to put Govan on a leash? So even though it was for a couple of days, I'm just trying to work out, it was Mandela who had come to you and then you said, "OK, I will stay on for six months." What I want to get at, and we may have gone through it, was this in your mind beforehand? Then afterwards, I interviewed you twice on this and most recently you said, "Well if Madiba had come to me in that period and we had our discussion on the issues I probably would have stayed on." So I'm a reader, OK, I follow you on your first thing. So even if Madiba comes to you and says, "Stay on", so you say you'll stay for six months. And then all these things happen, a whole hue of things happen, you announce your decision to the NEC, "In six months I'll be out of here", because in your mind you're saying Madiba hasn't discussed my issues with me. Then you get arrested, you're in jail, you come out of jail, December comes and you quit. People say why? Well the issue weren't discussed. Where was there room to discuss them?
MM I haven't said why, because the issues haven't been discussed.
POM You said, indicated you will retire from all active political work by the end of December.
MM Yes, my experiences have convinced me that both for personal and political reasons I had developed a distaste. I think I told you that I learnt to respect some comrades and not to respect others.
POM What are the political reasons?
MM The political reasons were simple. I believed that those people in the ANC leadership who made statements, such as Mendi Msimang, repudiating Vula, needed to be brought in line, needed to be taught the basics of politics, that you do not repudiate your comrades in the middle of a battle.
POM But you are saying that even when you talked to Pallo Jordan he said he has a memory even of Jacob Zuma not leaping to your defence.
POM And you worked with him very closely.
MM Yes, but it does not mean the question arises, I've never named who I respect and who I don't. That I have not named. I have made the point to you that life taught me a bitter lesson that I today have respect for some comrades and others, regrettably, I have no respect for.
POM Let me ask you just as a matter of because in fact it was Zarina and she's probably talked to you about this; did it ever strike you that you walk out of Robben Island now I had some minutes that I got other places on discussions in the NEC in 1971/72 on what happened in the London offices when the Morogoro decision came through and there was great emphasis put on that the ANC is a struggle for the liberation of the African people. Emphasis put on it for the African people and if others want to help in that liberation, well they'll liberate themselves too in the process. But it's very clear what this was the liberation of. I'll leave that there for a moment.
Then I go to, you come off Robben Island and you go to London. You're high profile, you're on the media, you're in jail on Robben Island, you're all over the place. In the eyes of many there might be only one thing wrong with you, you're not African. Then you come back, you're appointed Secretary of the IPRD, you're this young guy who comes in and suddenly you're doing everything because of what you see to be total incompetence around you. You're organising things, you're getting things done. Then from there you are the first Indian elected onto the and you take on everybody, everybody in sight you give them your opinion. You just tell them exactly what you think. Then you're the first Indian on the NEC and there you do the same thing, you just take people to task and tell them like it is. Do you think that you may have aroused a lot of latent animosity among people, not only for your forthrightness, but the fact that hey, who is this guy? He's not even a fucking African. What the hell right does he have to be lecturing us and telling us what to do? Doesn't he know, not his place, but in a way yes, doesn't he know his place? This is an African struggle.
MM I'm sorry, they shouldn't have sent me home in 1962.
POM Well they did maybe to get rid of you? That's always been my belief. They said, "This guy is always saying we should be at home. Listen, we'll fix him, send him home."
MM All I am saying is if that question arises in that form, "Who is this guy? This guy went home in 1962 and when the Rivonia arrests took place - "
POM Yes but people don't think that way.
MM No, no, wait a minute. He stayed on, he didn't leave, he continued to work inside.
POM He took over.
MM No, no, no. He is a person who believes that the only way to act is what you ask of others you must do yourself. Now if that causes a problem, sure, and I've raised the question, I've not known another guerrilla struggle waged from exile over a 30 year period where its senior commanders never went into the country.
POM We talked about that.
MM Yes. It wasn't a problem for me. And to me, whatever it meant, the logic of what was it was raising meant that when you are asked to go, you go. But I told you also, I think I told you confidentially, that when I left and OR gave me my orders I said to him, "Are you finished?" He said, "Yes." I said, "OR, I have a question to ask you, I don't want you to answer but you think about it. I'm going to do what you're asking me to do but why is it that you are sending me amongst others to the province of Natal where there are very, very serious racial tensions and you're not sending an African member of the NEC?" Now it's not my choice. People may think what they want to but the record is there, it's that OR asked me to go. I was mindful that it would be better if an African went but I wasn't going to sit back and say, no I'm not going to go until you've sent an African.
POM Oh I understand you. I'm just saying do you not think that maybe I must tell you I'm not as idealistic as you are in terms of how I think racism works. I think it's a thing that's everywhere even among those who preach non-racialism, that there's as much racism among those as those who act, not as much but it's there, it's part of the human condition. And that there may well have been a lot of resentment of this uppity Indian. I mean in one interview I did with Phyllis Naidoo she says that Cassius Make came to her and said on one occasion, "You know, when you see Mac again maybe you should put a word in his ear that he should take it easy in the NEC, that not all of us have education and the same degree of sophistication as he has." It's a common thing that in groups where conformity is demanded of some kind, that bright people are resented.
MM That's as good as saying that the standard society aspires to is mediocrity.
POM You've got it. What do you think the constant search for consensus on everything from hey man, listen, I came across in Fort Hare a document, a committee was set up and produced a document setting out the procedures by which the ANC could marry people. I'm not joking. Zola Skweyiya was in charge of it and he produced a five-page document of procedures that you had to go through to get married by the ANC. It was easier to get married by the Catholic Church even if you're an atheist.
MM And he studied in the GDR and was not a communist.
POM I asked you before, who is this person called Gaza? There is something wrong with the Lusaka no, the decision was that Gaza was told that he was. Let me go back on this, maybe this will help you: These are young comrades. What had happened in in some place more than six young comrades have been lost, the killing, weapons are flowing."The report to the Leadership Committee. "This means we cannot in many ways call a public meeting to talk about the ANC. Formation of UDF has been part of the process. In a written report reference to Gaza and recruitment: difficult problem for the region. He is known to be a member of the ANC and known to visit Lusaka. When matter raised with him, told he was instructed to do this by Lusaka. Heard from Archie Gumede that Steve Tshwete giving confusing reports to the internal leadership corps. Committee has determined that we are going to go public, that ANC is not connected with the scheme of Gaza, that this meeting has to give the final decision. Lusaka has said that there are 21 children insisting they want to come back. We have to go to their parents and explain and if they agree to have their children returned. This report was already made in March and Lusaka requested it to address the matter. This meeting explained that Gaza and others were given the task of bringing the displaced young comrades to Lusaka where they would be sent to school or the army. This process of sending people out is continuing. It was also stated that the money question was not the agreement and that the region must tell him to stop abusing money but PMC is obliged to take action to stop the traffic of people if abuse is taking place. Decision was that Gaza was told that what he was doing was incorrect. Problem arises when people say they have mandate and instructions from Lusaka. They will not listen to the leadership on the ground. There is something wrong with the Lusaka instruction. Gaza was given task to perform. How does Lusaka expect Gaza to carry out the instructions without money? Reply is that proper arrangements on this score were made. Response is that it is still the duty of Lusaka to put a stop to this process. The last ILC meeting asked SQ(?) to take up the matter and tell Gaza to stop the operation. This raises a related matter, because these matters should have been resolved and proper channels used. Last year before we were unbanned Gwala had discussions and was told about Gaza, TG saying that displaced students should be brought out for schooling. So they started a process of getting students, notified Lusaka accordingly, and were told that they had not done it the right way but had to deal through the internal structure. This reflects organisational confusion. This has been continuing until this May when Gaza was still continuing with recruitment. Comrades resolving the issue must consider money that has been taken. Parents and comrades are concerned. Activists are complaining that the best of our youth and activists are being taken abroad and leaving them vulnerable to attack during the war situations.
Does it strike any bell?
MM Very vague but nothing tangible. What date is that?
POM That would have been this is the long meeting you guys had on the internal leadership corps. It's the NEC meeting on 23 June 1990, the minutes of which run to about 37 pages. It doesn't strike? OK, if it doesn't strike, it doesn't strike.Harry was in northern Natal? Pietermartizburg?
POM Northern Natal right?
MM Sometimes it used to be called Midlands.
POM Midlands, OK, yes. And then where was Terror when he was sent in? Southern Natal?
MM Southern Natal.
POM Nearly there, Mac. We're on the last folder, let's see if there's anything in it of significance. Oh yes, there's one thing I missed actually going through this, that is where you said you got cold feet, that Steve got cold feet. Yes, here it is in front of me. The Vula Committee.The meeting of the eight, it would be a small body. Yes, this is it. "This remark coupled with his statement that our proposals re the Organising Committee had not been raised. The fact that despite the meeting of the eight where it was agreed that it would be a small body, such as the eight plus those in charge of the President's Project, plus whoever they agreed finally would constitute the Vula Committee."
MM Yes, that's because we were talking about what happens that's now in June isn't it?
POM Isn't it in May? 25 May.
MM OK. 25 May, Madiba is out, bannings have been lifted. We're now talking about is the Vula Committee going to bring in Chris for the Western Cape?
POM Yes it says, "The fact that looking at the timetables of K and Sipho it became clear to me that the agreement of the eight to meet early in June would not materialise. The fact that Tshwete had already assumed his office and that X had begun to develop cold feet about shifting him to some other tasks, all these raised concern and I will try to discuss these matters with K tomorrow but I must say at this stage I too am beginning to develop some cold feet that whether we as a movement will be able to attend to this matter in such a way that we are not blown high sky before we can ever begin to start work. I still feel very strongly that if we in any way forewarn the enemy we will have disadvantaged ourselves irreparably." Can you find that?
MM I'm trying to recall it on the basis of what you're reading out.
POM It's a document of, we have gone through part of it before.
MM Report from me to Ronnie and them in Durban?
POM That's right.
MM You see the key question I think that that is referring to is that whoever was going to be the head of the Organising Committee would need to be generally in the know of the underground work that we are doing because if that head didn't know he would think that those people, like the six, were not giving their everything to the Organising Committee's work. Now the question was it may be at that stage there were ideas that somebody else should be the head of the Organising Committee rather than Steve.
POM And Walter wasn't too keen to do that.
MM Once the appointment had been made Walter said that, look, to shift him now is going to cause untold problems. Now the question I would have put to Walter is that, "So then would you confide in Steve and tell him that Mac and others in your committee, unspecified, are doing certain tasks which they don't have to account to you?" And he would have said to me, "How do I handle that problem?" And I too would have said I wonder whether that is handleable because if I put myself in Steve's position as head of the Organising Committee, here comes the head of the organisation, Walter, here's me, there are six people, or tells me there's one plus others unnamed, who are involved in other very sensitive work so he must be prepared to excuse them. So I would say, "Tell me who they are." Let's suppose he in the end agrees to tell me who they are, then I tell him, "But what are they doing that's so important? Isn't organising that important? Or are you just giving me people who you already know are not going to give their entire attention to their work."
POM And what it would mean too, that it was one more person who knew all about who was involved in the underground.
MM And who has a grievance against those who are doing that work because they're not accounting to him.
MM That's the only way it makes sense to me.