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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
12 Aug 1991: Boesak, Allan
POM Dr. Boesak, can we begin this interview in the middle and then work my way backwards? As I recall when we talked last year, you had talked about the two de Klerks. The de Klerk you met in October, who did not seem to have any real comprehension of the whole thing in the country and the man on the following February 2nd who was now making all these bold decisions. How would you now place the man, with the allegations, not just allegations but insistence by the ANC and many other people that we have been talking to, that he is pursuing a double agenda; the olive branch on the one hand the orchestration of violence against the ANC alongside Inkatha on the other?
AB I think that I have no choice but to say that the ANC is right. I was looking at the transcripts and I thought, and I was listening to the speech that I made in the US in Washington DC in June 1990. In that speech three times I said audience that Mr. de Klerk is sincere, that he does mean what he is saying, that he is serious about negotiations and so forth. I marvelled at the way we were willing, probably because of Mr. Mandela, to give Mr. de Klerk the benefit of the doubt, to give him credit for what he had done and so forth. You will recall, however, that in our last conversation I did mention that he was probably involved with Inkatha and the violence and the connivance with the government. And I now recall an interview that I gave to a group of Dutch newspapers in April this year, which was published at the beginning of May, in which I said that I no longer trusted Mr. de Klerk because of my analysis of the situation in this country over the six months preceding April.
POM Could you run through that six months quickly?
AB Well there was the violence which grew in the black communities. There was more and more growing evidence about the way in which the SA police and the SADF connived with Inkatha in the black townships in terms of the violence. The way in which analysis shows, that in spite the power of the press and the government creating the impression that the ANC was mostly responsible for the violence, independent analysis shows that over a nine month period Inkatha was said to be responsible for 66% of the violence, the SADF and the police together responsible for 18% of the violence, the ANC responsible for 6% of the violence. The way that I thought that Mr. de Klerk and his government were then trying to manipulate the violence, to destabilise the black communities to create a position of power for Gatsha Buthelezi, and how Gatsha, on the basis of the violence claims for himself a major position. What was funny was that the government, the press and subsequently the international community had insisted that Mr. Mandela should meet Gatsha Buthelezi because the only way to create peace was to meet with him. How Gatsha Buthelezi's position was only related (a) to the way that the violence would grow in the community or (b) to the extent to which he could diminish the violence, which places him right in the middle of the violence, whichever way you look at it.
The many pieces of evidence that we have got, how the SA media, radio, television and the press boosted Buthelezi's position and especially TV, when you put all of that together I have got a clear picture of a situation where the government, which could have stopped the violence, we talked about that in a previous interview, whenever they wanted never did that, never went as far as to put Gatsha Buthelezi, in terms of the violence, as they did with Mr. Mandela and the ANC for instance. When you put all of that together and you then take the situation in which it is becoming quite clear that the only groups that could benefit from the violence, could be either the SA government or Inkatha, all that put together led me to the conclusion that the violence is not an incident or an accident, that the violence was not simply something that went out of control, that the violence had become a political tool, manipulated by the government and Inkatha used to their own advantage. And that more than anything else turned my mind against Mr. de Klerk, so that by April I thought that the man is not to be trusted and that the ANC had better revise its assessment of him if it wants to survive in the negotiations game. I thought that the government had taken the initiative, not simply because it wanted to solve the situation, but because if it could keep the ANC busy running around, trying to respond, to isolate cases of violence here, there and everywhere, it would have an ANC which could not give its attention to planning and taking of initiatives and so forth.
POM Do you think the scenario with the awareness on the part of de Klerk, that this was a plan formulated, a thought-out plan within the national security circles and okayed by him, or they went on but he was not aware of it?
AB I can no longer believe that he was not aware of it. I don't think that you could be State President in this country and by virtue of your office, both as the Chairperson of the Security Council and in close touch with your army, nothing could be kept away from you. I cannot believe that after the revelations that we had in terms of the Civil Co-operation Bureau and hit squads and the death squads in the police, of the evidence that was there for all to see, how the police actively worked with Inkatha to ferment violence in the black communities and allowed Inkatha to wreak havoc in the communities. All of that happened and you say you did not know? I could not believe that we could have the confession, as it were, from this man, [Major Nico ??,] who is now the Chairperson of Soldiers for Peace, who actually said that all of this was planned, like they planned it in Namibia, and when the whole plan was put into place and every single precaution was taken, only then did they deem it right for Mr. de Klerk to make his speech. When you put all of that together, I do not believe that de Klerk did not know about it.
And also, this is my last point, everybody now knows, the way he executed the demise of PW Botha was brilliantly done. A man who could do that to PW Botha must have had good connections with the army and with the police and with those in his own Cabinet, within the inner sanctum of PW Botha in terms of making decisions. Because PW Botha, Pik Botha, Barend du Plessis, Louis Le Grange (in the old days, then Minister of Law and Order), Niel Barnard of the NIS and a few Generals, that was the real Cabinet in the last days of PW Botha. How is it possible that someone totally outside, with no relationship whatsoever with these people, to move in, get rid of PW Botha, allow these things to happen and then blandly say 'I do not know'. I personally think that that asks for too much gullibility on our part.
POM Then, his was one of the great suckering acts in history. He suckered the ANC.
AB The man is conned us.
POM With that kind of brutally straight assessment, how can you have a negotiating process where you believe that your opponent across the table is not negotiating in good faith, but at every step along the way, he is trying to undermine you?
AB On the basis of two things; one, is that some would call it good fortune, some would call it the way it should work, some would call it the hand of God. I would rather think it is the hand of God that these revelations have been made. We now know what he was up to, he is in a far more vulnerable position and it places us in a stronger position. That is the first reason.
The second reason, we sit with the dilemma in this inviolable position that if you take FW de Klerk away there simply is nobody else. He may be evil but he is the best face of evil that the white community can offer us up to now.
POM Do you believe he is evil?
AB Evil is a strong word in politics. In terms of moral judgement, I think in terms of the way that he has allowed people's lives to be squandered, for what I can only call short-term political gains, but for the sake of the broader goal as opposed to that kind of moral judgement which would not be very helpful, I said in that interview when I spoke to you that in the final analysis he is just another Nationalist politician, as we have come to know him. In that sense nobody should be surprised, he is not doing anything that his party has not done before and will not try to do again. I guess the worst that we can say as far as that is concerned is that, whatever extra credit we have given to Mr. de Klerk was misplaced. We now should know that as we approached PW Botha we should have approached FW De Klerk.
POM Can you have successful negotiations in an atmosphere of distrust?
AB I suppose not. Now, I suppose what needs to be done is, firstly, begin to make as sure as we possibly can that we have as much control of the process as we can get. Secondly, more and more now, I am strengthened in my opinion that I have had for some time, that we probably will not be able to go through this transition period successfully without some international intervention. Thirdly, I really do believe that our best chance internally of getting through this transition is with an interim government. That somehow we will be able to draw together people from different groups in this country to oversee the process of negotiations which obviously the government can no longer do. If we can have those things, then I think the basis of trust will be put in place again, and then it remains to be seen whether we can work together to strengthen that basis.
POM To go back at little, I would like us to talk about the nature of the problem that the negotiators will face when they sit down at the table to negotiate the conflict about the conflict. There are those who say the problem is one of racial domination of whites having dominated blacks for centuries, particularly since 1948, and that must be dismantled and redressed; there are those who say it is about two nationalisms, black and white; there are those who say there is a racial component, but within each of the racial groups, there is an ethnic component which is similar to other places in Africa and other divided societies and that must be taken into account as well. In fact I have recently read a book by a man named Donald Horowitz, who is a very respected scholar in the US, on divided societies. He argues strongly in favour of saying ethnic differences are real, therefore government structures must take them into account now because if they don't you won't have a durable and lasting settlement. In your view, what is the nature of the problem? If you had to address the negotiators what would you say?
AB I would say probably a little bit of everything except that I would stress much less the importance of the ethnic factor and bring into that rather, the problem of trust. Yes, it is true SA consists of different racial groups, yes there is the nationalism of the whites and there is the African nationalism on the other side, yes it is certainly the question of racialism that has dominated everything in this country. Ethnicity plays a lesser role here, and I will return to that in a moment. We have gone through, in this country, what not many other African countries have gone through. In other words, we have gone through a psychological political change in terms of purely, what we call, black consciousness, that was not matched by any other African country. What we saw in some French speaking countries was far more cultural than political. In this country, it was explicitly political.
Secondly, it was quite clearly meant to be a political tool, a psychological tool to bring together groups of people who were ethnically divided, not by custom, only by law, for the better part of four decades. It was a system of force that was devised to overcome the psychological inferiority, not only in terms of the whites, blacks vs. whites, but also over the psychological barriers that have risen amongst the different black groups themselves. It was again, a psychological battle that had arisen in spite of existing political and economical ...
But the differences between so-called Coloured people, Indians and the Africans were political because we had political privileges, if one would want to call it that, that they, the Africans did not have. We had been offered a part in the tricameral parliamentary system, which gave us a measure of political power, which was denied the black majority of the community. Black consciousness overcame that. So that the tricameral parliamentary system was never accepted, could never be a viable system, and now its demise is inevitable and clear. It was a system that overcame economic differences because part of the apartheid structure and the apartheid psychology was also that as you divide people into different ethnic groups, and as the Coloureds were given a separate place in the racial superiority ladder, so to speak, that meant also that they now had economic privileges denied the black majority and that was true, in terms of jobs, in terms of payment of wages, salaries, schools, education, everything. Black consciousness overcame all of that.
What I am saying is, that in this country, more than in any other African country, the victory of Black Consciousness in making us all oppressed people that we are one under oppression, that we therefore belong together, and in its own way, paving the way to genuine non-racial participation in the one move, against the one system creating a truly multi-racial society, that that was something that we had been able to achieve, that had enabled us to overcome ethnic differences in a way that very few people on this continent have been able to do.
That is why when one looks today at what are the ethnic manifestations, politically and culturally in South Africa, you find that only in two groups, I am not talking about the English because they will always be different, I am not talking about them, you will find a serious ethnic, nationalistic expression in the Afrikaners and in the Zulus. If you look at what the motivations are, you will find it is the same. If you analyse further, and you don't need much analysis now because we know more about how these two groups have worked together, have decided to work together privately and covertly, how these two groups have supported one another, how these two groups have made a pact almost, de Klerk on the hand and Gatsha Buthelezi on the other hand, with the support of certainly the Afrikaans media and TV, it is no wonder that the most visible signs of ethnicity, trying to create the impression that this is the normal manifestation of political development in this country at this particular stage in history, has come from these people.
Therefore, I think it is safe to say that if you take away the co-operation between the Afrikaners, who happen to be in power and therefore have access to the instruments of power, including the media, and the Zulus, who have got access to all of these things because the Afrikaners give them access by virtue of agreements. If you take away that access, if you take away that co-operation, then there is no manifest important, or any significant manifestation of normal political development.
POM Increasingly since August last year, after the outbreak of violence in the Transvaal, there was increasing talk of it as being Xhosa versus Zulu, increasing talk of it in tribal terms which came to be adopted in a considerable measure by the international media, to the extent that about a month ago, the Economist, a well regarded publication, said that the violence between the Zulus and the Xhosas was in essence no different than the violence between Serbs and Croatians in Yugoslavia. Do you reject that?
AB I will reject that for the same reason that I rejected the tribal analysis. Many of the international media, neither the Economist, nor Time, nor Newsweek have ever: (a) taken our analysis seriously or (b) have gone through the problem to really go and spend some time to try and research the situation to find out what is really happening. All of them will now change their tune after the revelations, and after we have now uncovered the role of the government and the police and the army in supporting Gatsha Buthelezi, etc., and creating this impression.
AB So I would reject that. I do not believe that is true. I think that part of the reason is that so many people in the Western world, including Western media, including respectable magazines like the Economist, want to give Gatsha Buthelezi and the Zulus the place that the government has wanted it to have, because they find that in Gatsha Buthelezi they find a black leader in this country with whom they can be comfortable and that is their bottom line. It will take a little while, they will never admit that they were wrong, it will take a little while for them to understand that their analysis cannot work, could not work. It will take even longer for them and they will have to wait until they actually see the results of an election, for them to realise that with Gatsha Buthelezi they were in the same situation that they had placed themselves in when they went for the Muzorewa option in Zimbabwe.
POM What do you think of the revelations, which come under the heading 'Inkathagate'? Do you think there has been a turning point in this process and who have been the political winners, and losers and just where does it leave Buthelezi?
AB Yes it has been a turning point, because all of a sudden, all those things that we have known, and that we had talked about have been given credibility. People now know we were not just saying these things because we were funny, or bitter, or whatever. Certainly, yes it was a turning point because it all of a sudden placed the ANC in a position where the ANC could from foresight take the political initiative and the ANC did, not completely in the way that I would have like it, but the ANC did take the initiative there. So clearly the Zulus in this process, are the ANC.
Where does it leave Buthelezi? In terms of the white media in this country,[ there are far too ... to guess that this has happened,] the fact that they have given back the money, most of it, has restored his credibility and he remains a main player, and they will see to it that he remains there. But that is only one side of the story. In terms of the black community of this country, what credibility Buthelezi may have had is now gone. People are not shocked that Buthelezi had worked for the SA government, that they had given him money, because everybody in our community knew that the homeland system cannot survive without substantial financial support from Pretoria, and Buthelezi's position is a position, by virtue of the homeland system, which is there by virtue of apartheid. That is not the big thing. The big thing for black people is that it is now proved beyond doubt that Buthelezi is willing to gamble with the lives of black people in order to ensure his own power, and that is something people will not forgive him easily for. Even those people will say, and the ANC might say 'Let him come, let him be part of the multi-party conference', and probably he is still a party, he still claims some support in the community, that is alright. But when the day of reckoning comes in terms of an election, Gatsha Buthelezi will feel the consequences of these revelations.
POM In a multi-party conference, where would Buthelezi now sit, with the government on one side and the ANC on the other, will he stick out on his own or what?
AB He probably will try. I have always said, and I might even have said it in my interview with you the last time, that as far as I am concerned, that Buthelezi and the government belong in one corner because they belong together. If I was the ANC's leadership I would insist that they sit with the government because that is where they belong. I think it would be something that Buthelezi would not want and he would probably have his own little corner. But I think that in the minds of people, Buthelezi and the government belong together. I would insist, if only for the psychological value of it, that he sits with the government.
POM Do you think the NP have a thought-out strategy of what it wants out of these negotiations, and have a strategy they are implementing to achieve that outcome, or do you think they are trying this and they are trying that?
AM I don't think the NP knows what it is doing. Beyond the first stages, the initial planning this assumption that the NP must retain power as much as possible now during the process and after, control the transition period as much as possible, to use it to its advantage and beyond the knowledge or the confidence and the arrogance that it could, because it is in control now, and because, I will also say, that their perception of the favourable position that they have gained for themselves overseas, they would do almost anything and still get away with it. Beyond that basic assumption there was no planning, there was no way of thinking how they would do that, because they would say we have got to keep control now and afterwards, which means that they must win the first election, which they actually said. They speculated, all that is not arrogance only. It is their type of analysis that if we can control this process, weaken the ANC with destabilisation and violence, we can keep them in line, we can get Gatsha Buthelezi and all of the Zulus, we can get 90% of the Coloureds, we can get 90% of the Indians and then we are in. That is their way of thinking. It is not real analysis, it is not even intelligent, it shows no common sense, but it still makes for a plan. That is a plan that has not been well thought through so I do not think that the NP has any real plan. I think that they make things up as they go along and I would surmise that at this moment they are more confused than ever before and that they are therefore forced to work on a day to day basis dealing with the problems as they come, as it were.
POM They use the phrase 'power sharing'. When they use that word, what do you understand by their use of it?
AB Six months ago I thought that they meant that you must create a situation in this in which no single party would have all the power, which means that they must work as hard as possible to get the ANC to share power with them. Now after these six months have gone, I think what they really meant was that they keep the power, they cannot keep all of the power but they will then decide with whom they will share it. I now think, of course, that they are now entering a situation where that situation will have to be reversed as well.
POM Just to take up the first one, when I asked Viljoen last week when he says 'power sharing', does that mean that they would expect to exercise executive authority in the Cabinet? And he said yes. That is to say that in a Cabinet with 20 people with 20 ministerial portfolios the NP might have three to four, they see that as the sharing of power at the highest level it would somehow be a coalition government, where they not would be a junior partner, but a partner, and that they would see that as part of the final settlement. Do you think such an outcome may be acceptable to black people?
AB Only if such an outcome is a natural outcome of free and fair elections, I don't think that blacks would have a problem with that. If it is in any way contrived, if it is in anyway the outcome of an agreement.
POM If at the negotiation table the Nats were saying we will settle for no less than four.
AB No, no, no, there is no such thing. You see that is what I mean about their arrogance and what they mean by power sharing. There is no such thing. That is a Zimbabwean option. That caused so much bitterness in Zimbabwe which we do not want here. I think the only thing that will be acceptable to the majority of our people in this country will be when the NP, with whatever coalitions or alliances it wishes to make, would go into an election, win a certain number of votes, and on the basis of the number of votes won would ask to enter into some agreement with the governing party who, let us assume, would not have a 2/3 or 90% majority, enter into an agreement with the majority party as to how we will have the government. Now, if that is the situation, it will be a totally different thing.
AB If we will have a situation in which the ANC will win, then we will say they can enter into an agreement with the NP, but say with the DP and the communists, there is nothing the NP can do, and there should be not be anything the NP could do about it. There should be nothing whatsoever in the constitution, in the negotiating process, or even in the minds of the NP that would guarantee it any participation in the government on the basis of anything else but an agreement.
So you have two sides here that are talking two different kinds of languages. The NP talk about sharing of power, the ANC talks about the transferring of power. These are two directly difference conceptions of what is going on. In your view, what we are talking about here is the transfer of power?
AB I am talking about the transfer of power to whoever wins the election. And maybe there will be that for some reason or another the powers that be in the ANC will find an alliance with the NP. I do not believe that the transfer of power means simply the power from the hands of white people to black people and whatever happens at the poll we will fight it because they have to have the power, because that is the way it ought to be. I believe in the ANC and whoever else who has a programme, who has a policy, presenting themselves to the people, going to the poll and then await the outcome. Afterwards you assess the situation, and if for whatever reason, if it is advantageous to make alliances with whoever, you make those alliances, as long as at the end of the day what comes out is a true reflection of the expressed will of the people through free and fair elections.
POM This question came up at the ANC Conference in the fact that it had had trouble recruiting members in the Coloured and Indian communities. Do you think the real problem is that increasingly the ANC may become an urban African party?
AB Well, it certainly is part of it that the ANC is perceived to be an African party, whether urban or rural. For some reason or another the name racialism, that was so much part of the nature and the character and the functioning and the style and the spirituality of the United Democratic Front (UDF) is not seen or cannot be found, or cannot be expressed in the ANC.
There are people, not only in the so-called Coloured and Indian community, but in the white community who have deep, deep worries about the alliance with the South African Communist Party (SACP) at two levels. One is because so many of them are pushing and cannot see themselves either working with or voting for those who are in the SACP. At the second level, it is a political problem simply that it is a strange thing that you have people who have given permission that you are a high ranking SACP person at the same time you are a high ranking ANC person, that does not make sense and all of the explanations that we are here and work for the ANC and that the SACP is a separate and it has its own agenda, none of those explanations make sense, and I must admit it does not make sense to me.
POM If the SACP is a party with its own agenda, what in the world is it doing with the ANC unless their agendas are so similar that it does not make any difference, but if that is true then the SACP has no reason to exist. Just last weekend I was with Chris Hani in Durban, and Chris Hani attempted to explain to people in public why he has to go and work for the SACP. He said, 'I am a committed member of the ANC, I love the ANC, but I've got to work for the SACP, because we have got to be a strong party, because that is the party that will take care of the workers, and of the poor and the oppressed and the weak, you've got to have hospitals, you got to have ...' and I said to him, 'You know of course that you and I will have to tackle each other in public because if that is what the SACP stands for, the first question that comes to mind is what does the ANC stand for? Is the ANC a bourgeois party, a party for white people, a party for rich people, a party for powerful privileged people, and therefore the does the ANC not care about the poor and the weak?' So all of these things I have found that as soon as ANC members attempt to explain the relationship between the ANC and the SACP, the argument is at its weakest.
POM I found that Mr. Mandela made a brilliant speech, I was jumping up and down with excitement, and I said to myself if the conference would only follow his guidelines, we would come up a great organisation. The weakest part of this speech was when he tried to justify the relationship between the ANC and the SACP and everybody who thinks that, and that is the problem.
Just to go back, you mentioned a kind of a spirituality that had been attached to participation in the UDF, this could not somehow be transferred in terms of Coloured and Indian people. I mean beyond the Communist Party factor, are there other factors too?
AB I don't know, that is what puzzles me. Because the people that I am talking about, they really worry me, are the people who I worked for in the UDF, and I want to know from them that why is it possible that you could have worked with us in the UDF, in which 80% were Africans anyway and nobody bothered about that, and we stood for the goals of the ANC anyway and everyone knew that and we have worked for all those things and everybody knew that, how is it possible that you say now you cannot find yourself a home in the ANC? I don't know, there must be something else. Maybe the spirituality that I talked about is because it is a spirituality that we have created, that we have grown up with, that found its roots in South Africa at a particular time. The ANC is far more an organisation that has to accommodate all those exiles who have been away for years, and not all of them understand what is happening now. Not all of them understand what motivates us, not all of them understand what really happened while we were fighting all those years while they were outside, and there is a spirituality that had grown here that they maybe finding difficulty in understanding that. All of these things may be reasons.
POM It is stunning to think that the minorities, let us take the Coloured community, it has been oppressed for 50 years and now it can choose to settle for another choice.
AB It is absolutely crazy, I do not understand that, it is so unnatural, it has no place, it has not roots. That is why I think eventually we will come to understand it is not that much of a danger. It is up to the ANC to convince those people. The natural political hold of those people are the ANC. The ANC is the organisation that has always expressed their aspirations and their hopes. They know that if they think politically, philosophically, they think ANC policies. They must know that. The fact that there is a hesitation about this is a commentary on the way we from the ANC have been able or not be able to approach or convince these people far more than a commentary on the adroightness or the persuasive power of the NP.
POM Let us speculate. What if the NP, by orchestrating violence, led Coloured people, that if this is what a future SA is, African fighting African, and the NP party is strong, stands for law and order and are interesting, and if this is what a future SA is going to be like, we don't want a part of it. Do you think there is an element of fear?
AB It is very, very clear, I am less afraid of that fact now after the relationship I have had with them for the last six months. I feel I know exactly what the NP tries to do. But it cannot with any credibility do that any more.
Again, I really think there are a lot of people who are saying we are not sure which way we will go yet and it is far more up to the ANC than it is up to the government to win those people over. Those are people who will, in all probability, not vote for the NP if they do not vote for the ANC. They will just stay on the sideline. I think that will be a sin. We have to win those people over.
POM Two final quick questions. One is, you talked about how the ANC seemed to lack the ability to take the political initiative during most of last year. They seemed to follow a very zigzag course: making demands, setting deadlines, adjusting the deadlines or the demands, seeming to be unsure and uncertain of themselves. What do you think accounted for that?
AB Well two things because firstly the ANC did not have any time to think about these things. It was held responsible for violence it did not create, for violence it could not control and for violence it could not stop, but still it was blamed for it. So it had to do everything in its power to show the world we could not be blamed, so they had to give all their attention to that, which was exactly the plan of the government and Gatsha Buthelezi, and there was really no time to think of anything.
AB Secondly, it remains a problem how to quickly and successfully adjust from the liberation movement to a political party. Thirdly the ANC's leadership was an exile leadership. They still had to find their way in how to deal with the situation on the ground and deal with people, and have to respond to a government that they want to negotiate with but basically did not know how clever they were. I mean most of those people trusted de Klerk without even thinking. Now they find that they should never have trusted him. All these things are very disconcerting. And fourthly, they never have the time really to sit down with the constituency and say 'These are the policies, or guidelines of the direction that we will go with your blessing'. They knew somewhere in the back of their heads that if they did something that would displease the masses, the masses would show it, but they did not have the time to sit down with these very same masses and say 'Alright, this is what you want, this is what we think is feasible, or plausible, or possible, let us see if we can meet each other halfway'. Now I think after the Conference, much more of that will be possible than before.
POM Are there any minimum confidence building measures that the government would be required to make in the light of the Inkatha revelation of its double agenda policy?
AB There are only two such: (i) to convene a multi-party conference as quickly as possible together with the other parties and; (ii) to begin to demand for an interim government. That is it.
POM Do you think this government, under any circumstances would resign and become part of a unitary government?
AB I think the government now has choice. Even if you don't use the word 'resign' and even if you don't use the words 'interim government', I think, and this is what I am talking about the ANC now having the initiative they hope it will push home, and all the signs are there that it will. This government has no choice, if the ANC says, like Mr. Mandela said at Jan Smuts when he came back from overseas, 'no interim government, no continuation of talks, no interim government, no negotiations. That is clear, it is the only decision that the ANC can take with any dignity in the wake of all of this, and I think that is the minimum that the government ought to say to itself, we had better go and meet in this multi-party conference and find a way of putting together whatever is an interim government that would satisfy the basic demands.
POM Is the Conservative Party a factor in all of this? This time last year people were speculating if a white only election were held possibly most of the white vote would go to the Conservative Party. One hears much less talk of it this year.
AB As I said to you before, I think, that is I have never been afraid of the political power of the white right wing, I don't think they have that much political power, I always thought that de Klerk would in time be able to persuade most white people to come his way.
What does bother me about the right wing has always been the fact, has always been their capacity for creating chaos and violence. I now think that it would be wise for us in South Africa to realise that whatever happens, right wing violence will be with us for a long time. It depends on the reaction of both white and black people as to whether we are going to allow that violence to have a political influence on this. I think that once an ANC government is in place, the white right wing will go berserk! They will kill people on the streets like they are nothing. If there is an interim government, any political progress in this country from now on, will be tested by whites using violence because that is the only instrument that they have to stop the process and we will have to find a way of letting them know together that violence will not stop the process.
POM Could the police become a crucial part of this equation?
AB Yes they are?
POM How do you hold the police?
POM Well, for not taking action, for letting incidences just take place.
AB I would say that is one thing that makes the interim government absolutely essential. Instead of saying there are certain departments, like affairs, and local government, and police, where you have to have two people responsible for it, two ministers if you wish, one from the white side and one from the black side, because you have to work with all these conservative white local governments. You have to work with the police, you have to work with the army. It is absolutely essential that from both sides there will be joint responsibility and joint exercise of power in these departments. That is the way to deal with that.
POM Thank you.