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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

22 Mar 2002: Hutchings, Gillian

POM     Gillian, I'm doing a book that's centred around Mac and part of that is his role in the negotiation process when he was Joint Secretary with Fanie van der Merwe. He thought you would be a good source to point out the key elements in that process as it progressed, the moments that were moments of tension and potential breakdown, and then direct me in a way that I can find papers, whether they are at the National Archives or where papers might be that would refer to that period.

GH     On the papers the first thing is that most of them, well they should be, are at the National Archives. I do have some in that cupboard as well which you could sit and go through if you wished. So if you didn't want to go to the National Archives you could start off here and have a look at the papers and see if there is anything you could gather out of here. I think I may have, I'm not sure where though, I think I may have on disk some of the papers like draft minutes and things like that but I know I've got a lot in here because Max du Preez was just putting together some stuff for the Apartheid Museum and he came and he got a whole lot of stuff from me, which I think I've still got at home in a box, I just haven't brought it back here yet. I could always give you those things to look through and see what you can find because we went through them a little bit and found some sort of things that were almost quite, I would think, contentious which he was going to put up at the Apartheid Museum but some of the things he didn't. So you could sit and go through things here if you wished or take away some things with you and then bring them back.

POM     I'll do that, take them and copy them and bring them back to you. That's easier than sitting here and going through it.

GH     OK. We might need to have another time where you and I can meet either on a Saturday or a Sunday or even later and go through all of this and see what you want to look through. All right.

     On the other things, my mind goes a bit of a blank at the moment, but just if I can then start talking. I was at CODESA as well as the Multi-Party Negotiating Process and I don't know if Mac has given you his impressions on why CODESA failed and then why I would think the next lot of talks actually worked. I think why CODESA failed is the working groups were too big, they were public so when the parties put across their views –

POM     These are the five working groups?

GH     In the CODESA process yes. I think that they failed because they were too big and most of all because the media was present so when parties put their views across they became positions so they became entrenched and they were posturing. So there wasn't room for negotiation without losing face so I think that's why the CODESA talks failed by and large.

POM     Were all meetings of the working groups open to the public?

GH     Yes, the media was there, yes to the media. That's why we believe that they failed is because they were too big and the positions were then public so there was no room – you know, with all due respect, what political parties are like. They say something and then if it's reported now there's no room to move so it becomes entrenched.

     I think where the Multi-Party Negotiation Process was different – oh, and then of course there was the problem (I hope I'm getting my time frames right because it's quite jumbled sometimes) but the Boipatong massacre also played a big part in the talks being suspended. But then the nine months with the Multi-Party Negotiation Process I think they worked because they set up technical committees instead of working groups and the technical committees were not open to the media. The big Negotiating Council was open to the media but I think that is when the parties had more of a chance through the technical committees to then negotiate. So I think the talks had more of a chance at succeeding because the negotiations themselves – well the technical committees would come with suggestions and present it in the Negotiating Council but the representatives on those technical committees were people who had been by and large agreed by the parties who could represent their views. And I don't mean that in a fixed way, it wasn't fixed, but at least there was more of a chance of succeeding when it came to the Negotiating Council because the parties' views were represented in those technical committees in the views that came to the Negotiating Council.

     Then there was the Planning Committee which was set up which was representatives of the various parties, and I don't know if Mac has showed you who was on that Planning Committee but I've got a picture of the people that were on that Planning Committee. Why I think that Planning Committee also worked was because it wasn't open to the media but that was where the nuts and bolts were really discussed and then I think there were behind the scenes negotiations with the parties with what came out of the Planning Committee. I think Mac and Fanie played an absolute crucial role there because Cyril Ramaphosa once joked to me, and he said it in the Planning Committee so it wasn't said in the big Negotiating Council, he said to me, "When the ANC and the NP agree that's consensus", because we were talking about consensus and sufficient consensus and I've got a document for you on that. A lot of the decisions that were passed through the Negotiating Council were on sufficient consensus but sufficient consensus then was by and large the NP and the ANC agreeing but Cyril Ramaphosa said to me in the Planning Committee total consensus was when the ANC and the NP agree.

     I think Mac and Fanie played a very crucial role behind the scenes in getting those types of agreements facilitated and that's what CODESA didn't have as well. What CODESA also had was almost, if I may say, a political secretariat where the Multi-Party Negotiating Process didn't. The CBM, the Consultative Business Movement was the secretariat with Dr Theuns Eloff being the head of the Secretariat but he worked very closely with Mac and Fanie as well so although it wasn't a political secretariat there was a lot of operational work, if I may put it, done by them behind the scenes. I think that's also what helped make it work.

POM     Did they bring in at one point Ben Ngubane?

GH     They did at a later stage, yes. At a later stage he was brought in. He wasn't there in the beginning but he was brought in at a later stage. I also felt quite sorry for Ben Ngubane because I felt that his knees were cut out from below him because he would work and he was really positive, conciliatory, want things to work, that sort of thing, but at the end of the day of Mr Buthelezi didn't agree with it and more openly that guy whose name I can see in front me, Mario Ambrosini, didn't agree then Ngubane was cut down which wasn't really right because you would think he would have the mandate to negotiate freely and with the support of his leader but it didn't work that way as far as I was concerned. If he negotiated something that those two didn't like he was severely chastised and I think sometimes it was done almost publicly which I think was wrong. There were times when he would be called away from the Negotiating Council, called back to Ulundi because something had been negotiated that they didn't agree with.

POM     So what were the key make or break points in the Multi-Party Forum itself? What were the issues that - ?

GH     I think one of the biggest one that I remember very clearly was the election date but I think that that was quite positive in the way it was pushed through, if I may put it that way, because it forced a time frame to the process otherwise I think the dissenting parties could have been negotiating for ever, if you know what I mean, and as somebody put it, filibustering the process. When the election date was announced, and it was announced on the day that the AWB broke into the World Trade Centre because they knew the election date was going to be set and I think that they were also coming there to try and make it not happen, but by hook or by crook the Negotiating Council was going to meet that day and we did meet straight after the AWB people had been cleared. But I think that was quite an important day and I think quite a symbol for the country in that here this date was set and now the majority of South Africans knew they were going to vote come hell or high water, there was no way that date was going to be changed. I think that was a very symbolic day. I think the smaller parties and the parties that didn't want this to happen were doing almost everything in their power to make sure that this date wasn't actually agreed and it was actually Joe Slovo at the end of the day, I think with the support of Mac and Fanie because I think they knew how important this date was and there was no way that it couldn't be set, and as I say I think it forced the Negotiating Council to come through with the interim constitution on 17 November because there was a certain time frame for the Transitional Executive Council that it needed to work to be able to make sure that the election went through smoothly.

POM     Fanie van der Merwe says that the NP had laid out an agenda of what the different stages of the process should be and they had laid out late in 1992 an agenda that had elections set for April 1994 and that while they are often unfairly accused of holding up the process they were saying that was what was in their mind all the time. Were they objecting to setting April 1994 as the election date or was there a consensus between the ANC and the NP but you had other parties disagreeing?

GH     Dissenting, disagreeing. Yes, from what I could see they agreed on the date and I think Joe Slovo's, as they called it, sunset clauses played a really big part in facilitating agreement that was so visionary I think and how he understood the fears, etc., etc. I'm not saying that they wouldn't have done it without that, I'm not saying that at all, but from what I could see they were totally in agreement. But I think to make sure that the process – you know perceptions are quite powerful I think and if it was perceived that it wasn't transparent and that all views weren't being taken on board I think it might not have gone as smoothly as it did go and I think – because to me it was split into three camps, there were smaller parties that were supporting the dissenting views, let me put it that way, and there were the parties that were supporting the ANC views and I think sometimes the NP didn't have their smaller parties in line, if I may put it that way. I would think there was also the bunch that was supporting Inkatha – Ciskei, Bophuthatswana, all of those. But some of the parties that you thought were with the NP didn't always toe the line so they would cause trouble as well. I think on the election date from what I could see in the Planning Committee, because a lot used to come out in the Planning Committee, that there was agreement there. The Planning Committee was expanded to incorporate that Afrikaans party with that woman, Mrs Gouws (AVU), at a later stage because it was felt that the Planning Committee wasn't representative as far as women and that sort of thing was concerned so it was expanded to incorporate that party as well.

POM     What was the name of the woman?

GH     Sorry, wrong name of the lady. Her name was Cornia (or Cornelia?) Kruger. So it was Rowan Cronje who was representing Bophuthatswana, Colin Eglin who was representing the DP, Pravin Gordhan who was representing the NIC, the Indian Party, and Cornia Kruger who was representing AVU, and then of course Roelf Meyer and Cyril, Stella Sigcau, Joe Slovo, Zam Titus, Mickey Webb. Then you could see Mac and Fanie representing what they called the sub-committee. So that added a new dimension when she also came, and it was quite interesting to watch how her and Cyril used to – but I think he used to bait her on purpose because she used to take herself very seriously so I think he used to bait her on purpose just to see her reaction and sometimes he used to make what I would think were quite sexist remarks but I don't think she ever realised them. This lady, she didn't realise that he was – he's very bright and he would do it on purpose.

POM     OK.

PAT     Was she the only woman?

GH     No, Stella Sigcau was also a woman, because there were no women on the committee and that was raised by the Gender Committee into the process that this wasn't fair and how could you get the woman's view across. You must remember that when the Multi-Party Negotiating Process started it was only men and then the Gender Committee made the point that you need women to sit in a delegation as well and to be part of the negotiating process. So they changed it because they used to have one negotiator in the front and then a sort of a support at the back and they changed it to then be double with a woman and a man in the front and then a woman and a man at the back. I must say it changed the dynamics a little bit because, I mean this with the greatest respect, there wasn't so much aggression because there was a lot of testosterone flying when it was just the men and it did change the vibe within the Negotiating Council when women were included in the process as well, and believe me I'm not a women's libber and all of that sort of thing but it was very interesting to watch the dynamics that happened there when women started to be included as well. It was also interesting for me that the women on the Gender Committee were united but in the Negotiating Council they were there for parties as well as women so that was very interesting for me as well.

POM     So did Mac and Fanie work as team?

GH     A trouble shooting team, a team to facilitate consensus and they very much worked behind the scenes. I don't believe things – I know Cyril and Roelf played a really important role and they were brilliant, etc., etc., but I also think Mac and Fanie did so much of the spade work behind the scenes, that the support that they gave I'm not sure that things would have gone the way they had gone if it hadn't been for them. In a sense I would say they're almost the unsung heroes because Cyril and Roelf get a lot of the profile, which is right, I'm not saying it shouldn't happen, but I think not enough tribute is paid to the behind the scenes – and I think, I think, that they would have been totally honest with each other. I think between Mac and Fanie there were no secrets, they both knew where it's going and they both knew what they wanted and this was going to go through no matter what. I think they're both very good with people, especially Mac. I think he's got a way of talking to people that he'll get his own way no matter what and I don't mean it in a bad way at all but he's just so good with people and reading people and coming up with compromises and the win-win situation.

POM     It's his win.

GH     It's his win but the other people still feel that they're winning if you know what I mean. I don't think it's in a mean, nasty, devious, horrible way. It might be in a devious way but in a nice devious way.

POM     Was this a smooth process? Let me put the question this way, that the ANC from the beginning always insisted that the government had a dual agenda, negotiate on the one hand and on the other hand undermine them in the townships, either the security forces with Inkatha or the security forces themselves. Did this ever come up at negotiations?

GH     First of all on that I think, again I've got no tangible proof but just looking, I think there were people who you would call hawks and doves in the NP so I think that there was a bit of, I wouldn't say double standards but I would think there were two camps. The one that wanted to not give in so easily and the one that saw, and I don't mean give in easily, but the one that saw that this was the way forward and there has to be an agreement reached and the other camp would perceive that it's giving in easily and just being walked over type of thing. So I think there were these two camps in the NP and when we worked at the TEC this whole third force thing came out. So I wouldn't be surprised if there were people in NP who were undermining the process but I don't believe all of them were like that.

POM     You don't think it was an official government strategy?

GH     I don't know. I would be surprised if it was. There may have been a pocket who maybe meant quietly and was trying to influence it but I just, I don't know, I would think if they got found out it would just lose the credibility as far as the negotiating with the ANC is concerned because I wouldn't have thought the ANC would put up with that if it was an official thing. Again I may be wrong but I wouldn't have thought they would have put up with that if it was an official thing.

POM     I'm saying that because Mac is a very strong believer that there was a dual strategy and has me chasing all over the world for a paper by Niel Barnard that appeared in the communist magazine sometime in 1977 or 1978, which I can't find, for a lot of money. But his premise, for him an operating assumption of the ANC, was that there was in fact a dual strategy so while you had negotiations going on here and everybody being quite nice to each other, you had the government in collusion sometimes with the IFP destroying the ANC in the townships, weakening them, preventing them from - What I'm getting at is I can't find, though I've talked to Fanie about it and he says it never came up between him and Mac, they never discussed it, I've talked to other people on both sides and if it existed nobody ever talks about it even though it appeared in the newspaper at the time. The propaganda war being actual negotiations nobody seemed to have knowledge of it at all.

GH     I don't remember anything like that coming up, but again I wouldn't be surprised if there was something informal with the people who didn't want this to happen in the NP so I wouldn't be surprised if there was but I can't believe it would have been official. Maybe I'm too trusting but I just can't – I wouldn't have thought Fanie, I thought he and Mac were really open with each other and I think if Fanie has found something like that he would have brought it to Mac's attention but again maybe I'm too trusting. Maybe I'm too believing but just from the vibe between them and the spirit between them I just cannot believe that it was official, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was something unofficial happening because there was definitely, in my view, these two views within the NP.

     I also think that the NP government didn't want this to be a walk in the park for the ANC. If there was any chance of them winning at an election of course they were going to go for it, so I'm not saying that they were all angels. I don't believe it. For instance when they tried to push that whole housing thing through in the time of the TEC and Louis Schill was called to account, that was a bit naughty to push housing through before the election to sort of show that, oh, they'd delivered for the people and now the people must vote for them. That was very naughty and the ANC caught that and turned that around. There was a huge debate about that and Louis Schill was raked over the coals for that because that was very naughty and underhand. I think wherever they could try to do those sorts of things they would try. The whole thing around the promotions of the police and all of that and all those appointments before the election that was also very naughty and underhand. If I remember correctly people like Roelf were caught almost unawares as far as those things were concerned which again was very naughty, so you're undermining your own negotiating team which is not ethical and not proper, because you can't hope to hide those sorts of things especially when they're those types of really big things. They weren't angels but I don't know if there was something official around what you're speaking about in the townships, but again I wouldn't be surprised if there was.

POM     If you had to evaluate the players on each side how would you do so? I say that in the context of the government believing that, well, once they unbanned the ANC and entered into negotiations they would have no problem in out-negotiating the ANC and it just turned out the very opposite, the ANC out-negotiated the government. Would you agree with that?

GH     Yes I would. I think the government was incredibly naïve to think that they were just dealing with a bunch of people who didn't know how to negotiate and that were agreeing, almost, in this type of thing, because in my view the ANC always had the upper hand because economically apartheid could never survive. And I'm not saying that F W de Klerk had all of a sudden a turn around on human rights and all that, I believe it was totally economically driven.

POM     That's a very interesting question because did De Klerk and maybe people around him know that because of the economic situation in the end –

GH     They were going to lose anyway.

POM     It was going to happen so they may as well do it from when they appeared to be in a position of strength.

GH     A relative position of strength.

POM     As all their position could do was get weaker and weaker and weaker.

GH     Yes. I believe that wholeheartedly, I do. And I think they were just fighting to see the best they could get out of the situation and if there was some way they could retain some form of power, great.

POM     In that regard do you think that, this is purely your own opinion, that De Klerk isn't given enough credit for actually negotiating his own people out of power which is essentially what he did, which I don't think has happened in any other country where the leader of the people has not consciously set out to say I'm going to negotiate my people out of power but knows that's what he's going to do so it's actually very tricky and he's got to make it appear as though he's not doing so as to keep some show of controlling events or getting something out of the process?

GH     I think he went about it in a way which was fairly clever because I think he had no choice and I think that the credit should be given to him for at least saving something for his people than for them ending up with nothing at all. So I think the writing was on the wall and I think credit should be given to him by his people for at least getting what he could out of the situation. The whole government of national unity was I think a big win for them because I would think the ANC could have said no, totally off, not at all. Although maybe the ANC understood that – I don't think the ANC because they were never given a chance of being a proper political party, I also think it was in their interest to have a government of national unity as well because it's learning the ropes, etc., etc.

POM     Did you ever feel that the NP were in any way beholden to the military, that they had to clear agreements made with the military, that they would have to consult with the Generals, that the Generals played a not quite visible but a part in the negotiations?

GH     I never saw them visibly playing a part in the negotiations but from what I understand about the military, and I think this is maybe why the ANC also wanted the NP to be seen, the perception must be there that they were equal negotiating parties and they both had something to lose because I think the ANC understood maybe the danger that might be linked to the military. I think it was very important to draw the military along and not have them going off at a tangent if it wasn't seen that the NP was having some wins as well in the negotiating process. So I think, again, why the government of national unity was a good idea was because that could then be brought along into the new SA, the military could be brought along until transformation started to happen in the military. I didn't see anything specific, there was nothing public in these meetings about that but my gut feeling was that they had to be brought along because I think they had a lot of power and you wouldn't have wanted them going off at a tangent and causing a lot of problems. I would have thought that Roelf Meyer and other members of the NP would have kept Constand Viljoen somehow up to date and involved. I think for all his faults and failings he is a loyal South African and I would have thought he wouldn't have wanted violence but he would have wanted the whole compromise around – that the whole idea of a volkstaat would be discussed by the Constitutional Committee in the government of national unity when the whole final constitution was being negotiated. So those sorts of compromises that were reached I think would have been to help around that whole process, around drawing of the military in. I think that was a very clever move by the ANC to allay those types of fears and to use that as one aspect of being addressed would be the military.

POM     Did De Klerk pick the wrong negotiators? What I mean by that is people like Leon Wessels and Roelf, Fanie all believed in the end in the inevitability of majority rule so that he sent in a team that had already conceded the game, like playing chess. If you think your opponent is going to win you've already lost.

GH     I don't think so because imagine if he had sent people who were different in outlook, I don't know if we would be where we are today. Maybe it would have been a similar outcome but there probably would have been a lot more conflict along the way.

POM     What I mean by that is his negotiators, their mandate would have been to negotiate for anything but majority rule, a stronger form of power sharing, other concessions, not necessarily veto concessions but to fight harder in the negotiations or did he send in people whom he knew held views different from his own and they did the job. Van Zyl Slabbert makes the point that Mandela's best negotiators were Roelf Meyer and Leon Wessels.

GH     Those debates weren't always rollovers. There were some times when sparks used to fly, maybe they were set up but there were sparks that used to fly sometimes between Roelf Meyer and Cyril Ramaphosa. In the Planning Committee sometimes there were very heated debates where people weren't very nice to each other and sometimes those spilled over into the public forum, the Negotiating Council. I'm not sure what choice they had. I think if you had taken maybe a different line there was no way the ANC would have ever agreed to anything but majority rule. I just don't see it and from what I saw they fought as best they could given that it was inevitable, there was just no way we could have had anything else. Cyril is a very clever man and I think the ANC knew what they wanted and Mac is very bright, I think they are two of the most clever people I have ever met in my life, their people skills, their intelligence, knowing what they want and knowing how to get it no matter what. There was just no way, I can't see who else in the NP would have been able to do anything else.

POM     Is that a case of Ramaphosa or the ANC having a direct focus on what they wanted and they never took their eyes off the ball whereas the NP never knew quite what it wanted and wouldn't have the same focus?

GH     I think they might have known what they wanted but what they wanted they were never going to get so they were just trying to fight for the best they could get and as close to maybe as they wanted but the ANC was very focused and knew what they wanted. I don't think the ANC was bloody minded about it because when I first met the ANC the change in them from the CODESA days to the end of the negotiating process, I saw changes, I saw more compromises, not from what they wanted in the end goal and I don't think people give them credit for that. They came from an organisation which was not market friendly to being a market friendly organisation and I don't think people quite give credit for the change. Joe Slovo's sunset clauses, that is a really different stance from where they started off which I don't think most people in this country actually really realise, or the white people in this country. When anyone cares to listen, and I'm not saying I'm all for the ANC or whatever, but the change was just phenomenal from where they started from and what I saw and how they negotiated, etc., etc., not compromising on what the end results should be but within the gains that the NP might have made in the whole process. The whole thing around language, the whole thing around the flag, all of these I think were important compromises, I really, really do believe it and even just the idea of negotiating a volkstaat in the final constitution, it was a stupid idea, it would never come off, but just these small little compromises for the other side is also saving face. It's very clever I think, I really do think so.

POM     When I asked people, this is going back to 1989 when I began this whole thing, I would interview the same people every year, so I have about 2000 hours of interviews which are now being turned over to the Robben Island Museum because they are going to archive everything and they're going to digitalise all the actual recordings and put them on CD ROM's and distribute them to schoolchildren so schoolchildren can hear Tito Mboweni say in 1990, "There shall be nothing but nationalisation." You can hear Tito saying in 1996, "There shall be nothing but privatisation."

GH     Exactly, exactly.

POM     You can hear Trevor Manual say the very same thing. Now a question we had put to the NP was – in the end which is more important to you, the retention to some significant degree of political power or the retention of economic power, property, market oriented? In every case the answer was property, market oriented. In that sense they won, maybe because of default because the world in which everyone was operating was changing at such a pace, that just what the ANC believed in in terms of hard line socialism or whatever just became obsolete.

GH     But if you think of what you're saying about the change on the property issue, that was a vigorous debate and look at what we've got today.

POM     And some of the highest prices for houses.

GH     We, just as a matter of interest, had a whole report done on land reform in the country through the organisation I'm working for now and the one researcher that did some work said the market has done so much compared to what government has done around land reform. The Minister of Agriculture was really strong in her views because if that researcher had dug a little bit deeper they would have seen how because of the government's policy and partnering with the private sector the market has been able to do a lot around land reform but it's because the policy has been put there by the government. So it's not just the market doing it, the market can't just do it unless the policy environment is right.

POM     The assassination of Chris Hani.

GH     I remember that very clearly.

POM     How was that dealt with?

GH     I think when I heard about it it was quite a shock because we all thought that now this was going to be another type of Boipatong thing, the talks would be shut down and it was just going to be polarisation of the parties again, etc., etc. If I remember correctly, it's Mac's birthday in April, well I just remember that we were sitting in one of the rooms at the World Trade Centre and I think it was Mac's birthday, sure I'm getting old, we organised a cake for that and we were discussing the whole thing of Chris Hani and there was a really clear message because my stomach was in a knot like this when we went into that meeting because I thought they were going to call off the talks, it's just going to be bad. And then there was the very clear message that was delivered that absolutely not, it would be the worst thing to call off the talks because that would be the worst tribute almost to pay to the death of Chris Hani to allow these things to fall apart because the people who have done this want the talks to fall apart and this is a way maybe of trying to stop it and it would be the worst thing to play into their hands to let these talks stop. Joe Slovo was so passionate and so strong about that in the meeting that there was no way the talks were going to be stopped because of this, in fact the biggest tribute that could be paid to Chris Hani is for those talks to go ahead and that election date to be set no matter what, no matter what. It was not going to happen. I remember it was like a sigh of relief because if it had to end where were we going to be then? So it was almost as though it added impetus to it and a vigour that we were not going to be swayed off the path of the talks. I think that is such a strong message to send out to the public at large and it was also such a strong message within that whole negotiating process that there's no way, nothing is going to derail, our minds are set and you can try as much as you like, third forces, whatever forces out there, but it's not going to happen. I think that was really obviously the right way to go but a tribute to Chris Hani as well that this was not going to be allowed.

POM     Why, again on those lines, do you think – these negotiations took place throughout a period where there was continuous violence in the country and yet no matter what the violence situation was, something would happen in KZN or one of the townships in the Vaal or wherever, the negotiations went on, outside of Boipatong. But right up to the end there was a level of violence. This wasn't negotiations taking place in a nice calm atmosphere. Did the negotiators make a conscious decision to keep the violence out there, not to allow it to interfere with the negotiation process or did it at times become a matter of contention within the negotiation process itself?

GH     I think, as I say, they were determined to keep this on track, the main parties, but it did come into the negotiating process at times. I don't know if you've seen all the resolutions that came out of the negotiating process and that sort of thing but there were discussions on the violence at times. I can't remember the exact headings and all that sort of thing but I do remember it was discussed at times and certainly then highlighted and certain resolutions taken around events that were highlighted. So they were always aware of it I think but there was no way this was going to derail it and, as you've pointed out, at times it did come in and be discussed where there would be very heated discussions. I don't think it was working in a cocoon or a vacuum and I think they always wanted to make the point that this violence was happening and they were aware of it, it was unacceptable but it wasn't going to derail the process no matter how people tried and how bad it got, that it wasn't going to derail the process no matter what. So you could try and try and try, whoever was instigating the violence, but this was not - Imagine if it had, sure then all the beacons of hope would have just gone away and where would we be today? I think what kept people, ordinary people, going in spite of what was happening, because I think it was very traumatic and unpleasant, etc., etc., all the words you can use to describe it, was that this was the beacon of hope.

POM     When towards the end, the weeks before the election, the IFP still hadn't come into the process, what kind of arrangements were being discussed that would be taken if somehow Buthelezi closed down elections in KZN?

GH     That was obviously a major concern because if elections hadn't happened there, what would have happened type of thing? The previous organisation that I worked for, the Consultative Business Movement, played a big role in bringing that delegation out from America, what was the man's name who eventually managed to get – the guy from Kenya (Professor Washington Okumu), managed to get Buthelezi to agree to come into the elections, and as you know they had to quickly go and print the stickers for the ballot papers. I'm not sure if he would have stayed out because I think the ANC were saying it's going ahead no matter what. If you keep yourself out you marginalise yourself. I think there were behind the scenes things to try and get him involved and get him in besides what the CBM was doing and the CBM undertook that whole process in close consultation with the ANC and the NP. But I think that the message was loud and clear that it was going to go ahead and in my view I think maybe Buthelezi thought, well he needed a face saving mechanism to get back into the election and that when this whole thing happened where he was on that aeroplane, the Anglo jet, where they actually came back then I think this gave him the way out because he might have thought maybe that he could hold the whole process to ransom. He was an important player for KZN but I think when he saw that they weren't going to be held to ransom that he was looking for a face saving mechanism and that was the mechanism which got him, gave him the way out because I don't believe that they would have veered off that path at all. There was talk around when the local government elections happened later in that province that it wasn't prepared, etc., etc., but I don't believe that they would have done anything like that as far as the 1994 election was concerned.

POM     At the beginning of CODESA you had the Groote Schuur Minute and the Pretoria Minute and the Peace Process and in June you had this revelation of Operation Vula, with whatever you know how important do you think Vula was, could have been? It operated until the end of 1991, it operated into the beginning of CODESA. Was it a sidebar that distracted, gave the government some ammunition to use, at the same time here's the ANC talking about negotiations on the one hand and yet they're running an underground operation, importing arms, training people or was it all rather exaggerated?

GH     Mac told me a little bit about it. One of the things I used to love about him is the stories late at night that he used to tell us and sit around with a drink or whatever telling all stories and he used to tell us about all these disguises, which was fascinating for me as someone who was very unpolitically aware until I started working at CODESA. I was just this person who just read about and thought, oh the system is not right or whatever, but wasn't very politically aware. So I didn't know a lot about those sorts of things until I started working for CODESA. The ANC was always perceived as the enemy through the education we got and the brief things that you were exposed to so it was quite a revelation to me, I must tell you, to be exposed to these sorts of things and to get to know people from the ANC. I used to tell anyone who was prepared to listen, we've really been led up the garden path as far as these people are concerned and the way people have been brainwashed. So it was very, very exciting for me to discover for myself who was who and what people were really like and get to know people of the ANC like Mac and Cyril and others. I can't really comment on what you've just asked me because for me it was just quite an exciting revelation to know about this and it never really came up in the negotiating process openly. I wasn't really exposed to it and didn't know a lot about it except what Mac had told me.

POM     Did you get the impression from Mac that this was an underground that was in place, that had negotiations failed could have gone back to armed struggle fairly quickly and very effectively?

GH     He never went that far in what he said to me, committing himself as far as that sort of thing is concerned. Knowing Mac and his organisational abilities I wouldn't have been surprised if it was highly organised in spite of having to be under cover, whatever you want to call it. I wouldn't have been surprised if it had been highly organised but I think Mac and others, the win/win situation would have been to do it drawing everyone along which is what they did in the end. I can't really comment more on that because I don't know enough about it.

POM     Were you present at any of the meetings leading up to the Record of Understanding?

GH     No, I only started with this in 1991, December 1991.

POM     The Record of Understanding was 1992 I think, after Boipatong?

GH     OK, sorry.

POM     But that was a bilateral between the two parties so they wouldn't call on you.

GH     No, I wasn't in on that.

POM     What I would like to do, I didn't really come here this morning to interview you, would be to get an opportunity to go through the papers you have.

GH     Going through the papers together might also trigger some more things for me you see because I haven't had a chance to go through, to sit down and I would love to do that with you because I was just thinking there was one time there was a big fight in the Planning Committee around this whole thing of granting of cell phone licences.

POM     Granting of cell phone licences?

GH     Yes because it was felt that the NP was granting the cell phone licences to Vodacom without properly negotiating what they were going to put back into the country and it was going to create jobs and the NP was going to use that as part of an election ticket. There was a big fight about that. I remember how angry Cyril was with that and he attacked Roelf Meyer in that meeting in a very heavy way.

POM     Was this Cyril's real anger or his anger that he could turn on and say OK, switch it off now.

GH     Yes exactly, but the point was made that this was probably an election ticket for the NP and they were going to stop it until proper terms and conditions have been negotiated. You would remember that a certain percentage of profits of Vodacom and MTN had to be put back into the country in the form of corporate social investment or job creation. So there are all sorts of things like that I would probably remember.

POM     Well that's up to you when you have the time.

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.