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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Schoeman on CODESA, Rolling Mass Action, Fall of Bop

Interview with Minister Schoeman on 20 September 1994


Q     You were Deputy Minister to Roelf Meyer, weren't you, Deputy Minister of Constitutional Development?

S     Ja that's right.

Q     Were you also part of the CODESA negotiations?

S     Not so directly as after CODESA process has collapsed and when it restarted again I was fully involved in those, so I haven't been so directly involved in CODESA, but I know about, I've been involved but not as sort of full-time involved as was the situation with the Kempton Park negotiations.

Q     Yes, and as Deputy Minister did that take you right the way up to the election?

S     Yes, yes.

Q     I see, an inside seat. I was going to begin by mentioning the PW Botha reports and people have referred to the moment where he announced the idea of a single South Africa as being an important watershed, would you agree with that, .... the end of the Homelands Policy?

S     Yes, if I can briefly remark on his role, he , actually people think these reforms with the National Party started in 1990, which was not the case, it started actually hi 1981/82 when we at that stage accepted that it's no longer possible for the whites only to govern this country, and at that stage we then came up with the whole concept of power sharing, and that led to the referendum, and also the tri-cameral Parliament situation where we then shared power with the Coloureds and the Indians, and at that stage the CP broke away. So that is actually the start of the process of power sharing, that was when we accepted that whites only can no longer govern and then was left out the Blacks and that was a further chapter in the development of South Africa, then in 1986 we had a National Party federal conference at which we actually then further developed also the process of how to bring the Black people into the system.

Q     And was that when the statement about the single South Africa was published, .... 1986.

S     Yes and then of course...

Q     Actually this is interesting, because to some extent it's wonderful when you make a television program when you can find these important moments on film, and we actually, my colleague actually studied PW Botha's speech at this conference, but I don't think he was able to find this particular line, do you think it was part of a resolution, or?

S     Well, it was part of the resolution at the congress, at that congress we discussed this whole issue, and that was a very important congress. The of course...

Is a Federal Congress an unusual event?

It was then, because at that stage we had four provincial, it was a confederal party with four provincial systems and it was all, only a federal congress was only convened at very specific moments in the development of the National Party's history. That was one of them. So then it developed and it happened that Mr De Klerk took over in 1989 as the leader of the party and then became State President and that is actually to an extent the difference between the PW Botha era and the De Klerk era was, that PW Botha started with the thing up to my mind he didn't have the guts to complete, it is not easy for a leader when also within his own party people get restless about things, to have the guts to stick to what he started and that will distinguish De Klerk from all the other previous leaders, because for a man to when he becomes the President and he gets the power to at that very moment start working himself out of power, but the important thing to stick to it. To take it to it's final consequences, that to my mind makes De Klerk a great man.

Yes, I think I agree with you, I mean if he's got a perception of the implications, the logical consequences, which PW lacked, I 'spose people refer to the Rubicon Speech as a land of moment of confusion, people were not sure about what message he sending, and some of the Imminent Persons Group were over here, there was some conciliatory talk and then there were the attacks on the Frontline States so was it that he was, do think he had two different groups of advisors and he was walking between them?

He was.., I, you see Mr De Klerk was always clear in his mind, he has had a vision he wanted to bring this whole thing he started to it's full consequence and that made him a different sort of man as far as the road he travelled. He never had two minds, and maybe in PW Botha's mind there was a little bit of, is it the right thing? is it really going to work? because it's a step one takes into the dark to an extent. I mean to unban all these organisations, to go into elections where you know you will lose the power is a brave sort of step of great courage and that the man FW De Klerk has got, he is a man of courage and therefore it was possible under his leadership to make this final step in this whole development.

And also has the difficult balance to strike between power sharing and majority rule, which I think was a subject of, it's certainly a topic I believe that Mandela raised when he wrote to PW Botha in '891 believe, he said the real quandary, the real political heart of the matter is to reconcile the apprehension of the white community, or the protection of the white community with concept of majority rule, and to some extent this is the agenda that...

Well if we had not agreed on this concept of power sharing of Government of National Unity, first of all I think we would not have had elections, we would never have, the National Party have agreed on a out and out winner takes all situation at that stage, so that was a key element, also the whole question of federalism, where you devolve the power and it's not in the hands of the central government, so there were a number of very key issues, and why has it gone differently in South Africa than for instance in Angola and Mocambique, due to the fact that it was not a win/lose situation. It was a win/win situation, and as long as also the majority party is accepting that it is not possible for one group or party in this country to govern this country alone at this stage, and as long as that co-operation is there is there it will go well with South Africa, and it is there at the moment, the Government of National Unity is functioning fairly well, taking into account the views of the minority and so on, so it's not a question of, yes the members of the minority parties they are in Cabinet, but they are just sit there as observers sort of, it's not so, the moment it becomes that then of course the National Party will consider to pull out of the Government of National Unity, but don't see that, I don't foresee that as it is going at the moment.

And so, well if that's the situation in the great speech of 7th of February when the new era begins and then there's a process of about two years before CODESA starts up isn't there, CODESA starts at the end of '91. Can you tell me roughly what's going on in those two years?

Ja, you must remember one very important thing to come from two totally opposite points, where on the one hand, in inverted commas you have "terrorists" and on the other hand you have the "oppressors", which over many decades fought each other for them to just sit around a table and just start talking about these issues, it was the breaking down of, on the one hand the mistrust on the other hand suspicion, that maybe somewhere there's a catch in this whole sort of..., so it took a time to just develop an understanding between the parties, even after the CODESA it took quite a while for instance the National Party and the ANC in bi-lateral meetings to break down that mistrust completely, because if parties want to have an agreement of which they will take co-ownership then they need to trust each other so that whatever is agreed they trust that that agreement will stick, and that was a process. Actually if one looks back at it now it went very fast, this whole process breaking down all these decades long animosity, you must remember these parties, they were enemies, they fought each other, they planted bombs, they sort of put the other parties in jail and all these things, so it was a miracle to bring these two groups to a point where they agree on sharing power, and I don't think people always realise the miracle which developed over this very short period, so although yes it took two years to start, but it was the process which at the end made the result a successful sort of result.

And I think what you are referring to about the animosity and the suspicion just below the surface, I think that was visible at the beginning of CODESA I when there was a moment when Mr De Klerk criticised MK for not observing certain agreements, and Mr Mandela answered back very angrily, so that's, do you remember that?

Yes, absolutely that was the first Plenary of CODESA I, so it was necessary to develop this understanding, that yes all parties are committed to find a solution but more than that to stick to the outcome, because it's easy to sign a contract, but will the parties honour the contract, and now I think it's happening.

And I 'spose there was also apprehension on the side of the white community, and this was seen at the Potchefstroom by-election, can you remind me what happened there?

Well it was an interesting sort of run-up to the Potchefstroom election. The National Party lost a few by-elections, Virginia, then Potchefstroom which we lost badly, and that was an indication to an extent that maybe the white community is not ready for this very dramatic change and therefore the moment, I think it was the same day when Mr De Klerk walked into the caucus of the National Party, he then said, well I want to know whether the majority of the whites support me in this effort and I am going to test it, and it could have gone either way, so I mean that was also I think a brave step to take, which then at the end showed that that was the right thing to do, and after that of course it was clear that the whites, although maybe they still have suspicions, they still have fears, but they realise that this is the only way that we can solve South Africa's problems. So that referendum was a very very important step in this whole run-up to the fmalisation of the process.

then some people, I mean some books that I've read about CODESA say that in a sense they believe the Government toughened it's negotiating stance a little bit after the referendum, maybe you know they felt more confident about what they were doing they felt they had a mandate to proceed and so they advanced within CODESA and CODESA then advanced to the point of breakdown, I think.

CODESA was the wrong structure, it was a very sort of a huge structure with a number of huge working groups and not nearly hi all the areas, co-operation between the different groups and so on, so they dealt with different sort of things so it wasn't to start with the right type of forum to really reach on all these things the necessary agreements. There was a more streamlined process at the World Trade Centre at Kempton Park, it was one body sitting in a room and discussing all these issues, so all those members of the different parties, they were all of them were involved hi all these different negotiations, it wasn't five different groups discussing five different topics an then need to report back to their principals and maybe some of them not doing exactly what has been done in other groups. So that was the wrong structure, therefore the Kempton Park structure was a more streamlined structure, it was, because all parties gained experience through the CODESA time and then after the restart at Kempton Park, I think the major, the parties like the ANC and the National Party knew that if this breaks down again there, it may be the end of the road and it will not be possible to restart it again, and that commitment created the situation that on specific issues we debated also in bi-laterals between the National Party and the ANC for days and nights and weeks, but we continued to negotiate and we did not allow a very difficult issue to let it break down, on this Government of National Unity for instance, it was a tough one, and it really from tune to time developed into the situation where there was the possibility that it could have been the deadlock, but due to the fact that the parties were committed, they again and again looked at alternatives and ways to find a compromise.

This is then what they called the MPNP is it, the Multi-Party Negotiation, so this is, that's the process from April through to November of '93? So that covered a lot of constitutional ground in a short space of time. Just reverting back to the CODESA breakdown, I mean it's obviously a very dramatic moment and obviously people, I mean a whole book has been written about it in fact by something called the Centre for Policy Studies by a man called Friedman, what do you think of his ?

I've not read the whole book because one actually doesn't want to read the history now again if you have lived it.

Yes, well I'm just curious. Because I'll tell we've talked to people and I've read the books and I've come across, there have been at least three different accounts of what happened, now on the face of it, it was a haggle about the percentages that were needed to agree constitutional clauses, some people don't say no it wasn't that it was the personality it was the fact Gerrit Viljoen was not well, it was the fact that Mr Delport was very tough, and what, how did you see it?

That was only the visual thing, but I think the process up to then, it wasn't a good enough product to really, and I think if one looks back at it, it is good that it broke down, because the possibility was there that if you forced through that not well accepted agreement by all sides that at the end you could have had the situation where the parties did not stick to that agreement. So that was a possibility, so looking back, it was not bad that it broke down. Well that conies close to what Friedman writes actually, because Friedman writes and he writes in a slightly speculative way, but he says he believes that both Meyer and Ramaphosa either separately or together perceived that, what you are saying, perceived that the thing was heading for failure, perceived that it was not worth rescuing, perceived that it would be better for it to collapse and for it to start again on a more meaningful basis.

It was not necessarily so that anyone really, sort of consciously, or by sitting down and say, well lets allow this thing to break down, maybe the circumstances and maybe to an extent the uneasiness of both sides with that agreement, and the uncertainty whether the product will be really what we want, maybe that allowed the situation to break down, so it's not one specific sort of individual or two or five, but the whole uneasiness about the process up to then and the product, and the uncertainty whether this is really what we want. After the Kempton Park thing, we knew this is a product that we can live with, not ideal not totally sort of what each party would have liked, but all parties may, all parties were prepared to compromise on issues on when the, on those they felt very very strongly, and then there were a number of key issues built into this constitution, if one reads it again, I've read it again the other day, it is actually really making provision for all those areas where people could have issues which could have divided or created tension and if one now looks at whenever there is tension or has been tension over the last couple of months it has been when one of this agreements was threatened, like the language issue, like the whole question of the education issue, it's not really a constitution which in classical terms is making only provision for the broader issues there are chapters in this constitution making provision specifically for the civil service, for the army, for language, for the anthems for all those emotional issues.

And the compromises came from both sides, as you say.

Correct, and that's why it was a problem, negotiations can only succeed if both or all sides are willing to make compromises. It's not I put something on the table, I try to convince you to accept it, if that's the case you accept it at the end, but reluctantly, and then the outcome will not be a success. And that was the success of the Kempton Park negotiations.

Yes, yes I understand that, but just going back to increase my understanding of what happened. How would you describe the relationship between the National Party and Inkatha during the CODESA negotiations, I mean?

Well, there was an informal caucus if you can call it that, between the parties opposing the ANC's pouit of view to an extent, like Inkatha and the National Party and the DP and some of the other parties, there was an informal, not a formal alliance, but an informal grouping of parties, so it was, the relationships between for instance, Minister Buthelezi and Mr De Klerk it was a very very good relationship actually for many many years, because they believed in some of the same values, like free-market, federalism and so on and so on.

Then after the breakdown, Mr Meyer becomes, comes to the fore in a sense doesn't he, and would you say that his arrival on the scene represents a new personality or a new perspective?

Well he was on the scene also with the CODESA thing, but what happened then when it was a total breakdown between the ANC and the National Party there was a line kept open, and each of the two parties appointed one person to have that line of communication going and that was Ramaphosa and Meyer, so yes in that sense he played a more visible role as far as that issue goes, but..

Is that what they called The Channel?

The Channel, but the National Party has all right through the whole process, it was never left to one person or one group of people to take the decisions, I was involved, we were four people involved permanently in this whole process, going to Kempton Park and so on, others from time to time, but four of us, Dr De Villiers, Mr Meyer, Leon Wessels and myself, we were the four full-time people, but we weekly, sometimes daily reported back to Cabinet, or even to caucus and out of that the instructions came from the leadership of what we could, in the parameters of what issues we could then accept or not accept and so on, so it was not really one man, two man, four man or a small team show.

No no, and the four of you come together as a group, is this after CODESA breaks down? So in a sense you become The Channel, in a sense?

To an extent yes.

And to an extent this is going towards the Record of Understanding?

Ja, well the Record of Understanding, many many people like Minister Buthelezi misunderstood that, it was understood as if it was a pact between the ANC and the National Party, excluding other parties, which was not the case, it was just to make it possible again to restart the whole process of negotiation. It was to get out of that deadlock situation.

And but I, one can understand why, I mean I believe that Mr Buthelezi's not an easy person to keep on board, more than one person has said, that you think you are having an understanding with Inkatha about the way things are going and then you find it's not valid, there is something less than straightforward about their way of negotiating, I don't know whether you experienced that.

It was really, from time to time very very difficult, because if we went to these specially ... bi-laterals with a mandate, and we could within the framework of our mandate, we could, there was room to move and if we get an agreement in that framework, then we take it back and people can really sort of try to, there was a commitment that we will get this through, but with, hi many instances with the IFF negotiators we reached an agreement and then they went back and when they returned it was totally a different story and that was really frustrating from time to time, one was never sure when you have reached this agreement, that in a day or two days time when they have visited Ulundi and so on, when they come back that it will be still the case, that was really making it very very complicated.

Q     And I suppose to some extent Mr Buthelezi was never at Kempton Park?

S     No no he was not, it was not a forum for the leaders to negotiate, it was negotiators and they reported back to their leaders, and our system worked very well because we had a direct line to Mr De Klerk, if something comes up we pick up the phone and we can sort it out with him, so it was, he was always, always there and he was prepared to take these decisions so we had a direct 24 hours a day line to him, and I'm not sure if the negotiators of the IFF and so on also had that sort of immediate line, they from time to time asked to go back to Ulundi and I think then a group of people there, maybe their central committee or whatever they call it, then it changed it.

Q     One can see why Buthelezi may have felt upset by the Record of Understanding because the way I remember it there were three principal areas it addressed, one was the release of prisoners, two was the fencing of the hostels and three was what they called the Traditional Weapons, is that fair, is that how you remember the terms of the Record?

S     Ja, it was the fencing of the hostels, but also that was not done in a way that it was immediately forced on them, it was also a provision to negotiate these further with the people, and actually this thing of the cultural weapons never materialised exactly, I mean they continued to carry, but there is also a definition problem with cultural weapons, if it means cultural weapons like if you go into a meeting with the king or with Buthelezi they always carry a small item and so on, it was never meant, never meant to include that, it was, I think the problem was with the definition because to an extent it was misused in all, some of these acts of violence to call some of these things cultural weapons when it's an axe or a sharp sort of item to kill people, and that's not a cultural weapon, that's a dangerous weapon, so I think one needs to make the distinction between real cultural weapons which was never the intention, never also not hi the Record of Understanding to ban traditional Zulus who carry their traditional cultural weapons, it was, the aim was to get out of this society the dangerous weapons which was used on trains and on all these places, hostels to kill people. So I mean one, it's easy to generalise and from their side they say you have banned our cultural sort of things, which was never the intention to go to that cultural issue as such.

Q     I suppose the way that, I mean to try to put oneself hi Buthelezi's shoes the way he experienced it was, the National Party and the ANC come together with an agreement, two out of the three terms of the agreement relate to, in some senses putting restrictions on what they're up to, and it appears to imply that they have come together as a joint force, and two's company three's a crowd.

S     Ja that could have been the perception, it was never the intention to sideline Buthelezi, never.

Q     But it was, the way you see it the technique to start negotiations.

S     It could have created the perception but I was present many, many, many times when Mr De Klerk, he in person flew down to Durban to Natal to personally explain to the long and to Mr Buthelezi the whole progress and process of this. Personally, he in person on many occasions. Not called them he flew down to go and see them, that was his commitment.

Q     ..... the record.

To try and take out of the way this perception which was wrong, so to explain it as I have explained to you, it is not the intention to sideline you, it's not the intention to harm you, it's not the intention to create a pact, it's not that we and the ANC we are in the same bed as they over and over stated again, so I think it is then questioning the bona fides of Mr De Klerk when he goes to a man personally and explains to him, this is the meaning this is why we have done it, we tried to solve this deadlock, we tried to create this whole issue, and it was De Klerk again, when at the end at the last minute, the last minute Buthelezi and his party wanted to come on that we abandoned our position on the ballot paper and all those things to allow the Zulus to participate, the IFF, I mean so it's not that he has made a concession if you can call it that at the Record of Understanding with the ANC to get the whole thing going again, but also with Inkatha.

Do you mean just before the election?

Yes, a few hours. The reprinting of ballot papers, up to that all our voter education all these things, they we all the time sort of and people may think it's a small simple thing, but if you have as we have had the situation where the electorate was not very, in some instances, highly educated, to train them to vote at the bottom and then a few hours before that to just say OK fine we no longer at the bottom. People may think it's a very small sort of gesture, it's not, it was a major thing at that stage.

Just to go back to the period leading up to the Record of Understanding, that was also the period when the ANC had embarked upon, I think what they called "rolling mass action", was that an effective thing for them to do, or?

Well it's only effective, rolling mass action is only effective for a short time, you cannot for months and years continue with rolling mass action. It later on, it just sort of is no longer so effective. It was one of the methods, yes. Like strikers now use strikes, but they spoil, they cut their nose to spoil their face if it goes on too long, because they are the people suffering because they don't have work and they don't get money and paid and so on, so yes for a short period it may be effective but in the long term. There was no possibility, no possibility whatsoever in this country for one group of people to destroy the other group totally, no possibility. We, the Government at that stage, it was not possible to eliminate the opposition, to destroy the ANC, not even by way of using force and putting them into jail and so on, that we have at that stage accepted. It was not possible for the ANC to bring down this Government, the previous Government by mass action or stayaways or sanctions or whatever, we could have continued for twenty, thirty, forty years we would have become poorer and poorer, but we could have continued, there was no way that the one could have destroyed the other, and then at that point both sides realised that's why the agreement of, let's work together, let's look at a Government of National Unity, power sharing, let's accommodate, it's not sort of a few hundred thousand colonialists living in South Africa, we are Africans, I'm and African. This is my country, I want to live here I'm prepared to die, but I rather want to live but I am prepared to die, I've nowhere to go, I don't want to go anywhere, I have no desire to go anywhere. So we are here, it's a permanent force, and that, when that both sides realised that the ANC and their supporters the Blacks, they are here to stay forever the Whites are here to stay forever, so its no way that the one could have destroyed the other one, not in ten, twenty, thirty, forty years.

Q     And talking about that coming together, was the moment when Joe Slovo published his proposals an important moment?

S     Well, it was actually a culmination of very long discussions and it was the first visual sign of accepting this element of power sharing, so Ja hi that sense it was important.

Q     Do you think felt important within terms of National Party politics, that one could say, at last, you see it's not us who are making all the concessions you see in a sense the ANC have made significant concessions, they're also talking the language of accommodation?

S     Ja, it was not as if it came as a, at that stage as a sort of major breakthrough in sense because up to then we have come to realise that this was going to happen, that it was the only way that we could solve this whole issue of getting to elections. So it was not as if it was a surprise, and it was sort of very special moment.

Q     You didn't feel that, I've met some people in the National Party who said it was a surprise that someone like Slovo, who was thought of being one of the hardline Communists, is actually trying to ...

S     Maybe the people not so intensely involved hi the negotiations, for them maybe it was a surprise, but we have seen this develop when we had these discussions.

Q     And after that I believe the, to some extent the ANC and the National Party come together on what are called "Bosberaads", there were conferences, bi-lateral, did you go on any of those?

S     Yes all of them.

Q     How many were there?

S     Oh many.

Q     Many, really, at Nyala or..

S     Ja some were there, some were here in Cape Town, some were in the other places.

Q     Were there any stories or jokes that came out of that?

S     Well no, well not really, maybe not jokes and so on, but I mean if one, I was also present at the first one and it took about a whole two days just to try and understand each other. I mean to just take away the suspicion and the mistrust and the fears and so on, so it developed and later on when both sides realised that yes we are now committed to find a solution, then we started to put the real very hard issues on the table and it was possible to disagree on those and at the end to say to each other we need to find solutions and work it out. So that's how we developed, so there was a useful exercise, these "bosberaads" and so on.

Q     And sometimes things happen on a personal level that aren't possible within a more formal negotiation.

Ja of course the value of that was we lived together in an isolated area for two or three days and we sat together, we partied together, we sort of lunched together and so on, so yes it created that understanding, and if you now take the situation. Those people from both sides who were so closely involved, I think one can also see when they operate in Cabinet or whatever position they have now, there's still that understanding, there's still, there's openness to go to each other and say, well we need to handle this thing in a manner so we stick to our agreements and so on, so it is, it has made the transition easier because it was the same people who have lived right through this whole process, the same people now governing the country, and that's why it was an easier sort of smoother way to have this whole thing.

And I was going to remember the death of Chris Hani, was that an important moment, that was a moment when people....?

Well that was a very very tense moment, but it shows that not even that derailed the process, it could have derailed the process totally, but even that, so at that stage it was so well developed, the commitment was so strong that even a traumatic and dramatic thing did not derail it.

And soon after the death of Hani the election date becomes fixed, I think it becomes, the election date becomes fixed and both to the National Party and the ANC the election date is sacrosanct, nothing will get in the way of it, I think one could see that the two parties were agreed on that.

Ja well one need also, one needs to look at that in perspective, in November 1992 Mr De Klerk announced a tune frame which then spelled out that these steps must take place, and if they take place we can have elections by the end of April, so it was not as if just after the death of Hani suddenly now the two parties decided on the date. But we felt, at that stage there was enough progress to really have a more focused process now, not open-ended and the thing that focused that election, or the process was the date, the fixed...


... Rushing forward, there was also the demise of Boputhatswana, that was a dramatic moment wasn't it?

Ja but it was on the cards all the time, I mean they were very stubborn in this whole process, they did not read the signs when these things started to happen, there was no way that any part of South Africa, including the so-called independent countries could have stayed out of these elections, and I think some of their negotiators accepted that, but I think there were people surrounding Mangope who didn't realise that. So it was on the cards for a long time.

Not just Mangope, but also his allies, there was the AVF, there was the AWB.

Absolutely, they thought by forming this alliance they could have become strong enough to force this process to a standstill, but at that stage was, had developed it's own momentum, it could not, only one, only two parties could have stopped that, that was either the pullout of the ANC or the National Party.

Q     And that's what Mr Buthelezi did not realise, he thought he could stop it,

S     Correct.

Q     Is there anything he would not have done do you think, I mean it felt like he was prepared to take it to the end?

S     I think some of his advisors played a role in, developed this strategy to say to him, hold out as long as possible, I think long before they had decided that eventually they will participate in the elections, but they tried to play hard to get for as long as possible to get as much as possible.

Q     And towards the end the king becomes much more prominent doesn't he, the king appears and says my kingdom has not been guaranteed by your arrangements?

S     Correct.

Q     Do you think he's actually doing that for himself or is this?

S     This was another form of pressure to say that we will actually go independent. But it was not possible, I mean it was not possible to do it.

Q     Do you think Mr Buthelezi was inciting him to do it, or?

S     I don't know what the inside things about that was, I think maybe he was informed hi a way that if we go this route, you will no longer have a kingdom, maybe that was a possibility. How they informed him, how they advised him, maybe that played a role.

Q     And finally, Inkatha do come in, is there anything that makes them come in, is it perhaps a realisation by Buthelezi that, in effect they will be finished, their civil service will be gone,..?

S     I think so, I think those things like the same happened to Boputhatswana, to Ciskei, to the CP, I mean the CP as a party is dead, they didn't participate in the elections and if more than ninety percent of the population or the people or eighty percent they participate then those parties outside, I mean they're irrelevant. And I think Buthelezi at the end realised that if they don't participate, then they, it will not be possible for them in any case to continue.

Q     Did he by this brinkmanship did he manage to extract anything of value, were there concessions on federalism?

S     Well no, not what they wanted, they wanted something semi-confederalist they want to be, they actually wanted to be a semi-independent, Boputhatswana as well as KwaZulu, as well as Ciskei and then also the Afrikaner Volkstaat thing. They wanted to have something close to political independence with economic links with the rest of South Africa, and they didn't achieve that.

Q     But it's curious isn't it, because the way Buthelezi refused to take independence under the old apartheid regime?

S     Absolutely, that was an irony.

Q     So he had reversed his position?

S     Yes.

Q     But anyway it all, through the mediation of the Kenyan I think it was, Mr Okumu, a compromise solution was found at the last minute.

S     Well yes, but I think at that stage he already, he looked for something, a face-saving device, he knew at that stage that he would participate, but it was difficult for him just to then back down on all his demands, so he looked for a face-saving device and that was his face-saving device.

Q     He knew he had to participate, because..

S     Absolutely, so whether it was the Kenyan or whether it was...

Q     Do you think the State of Emergency helped to tell him he had to participate or..?

S     I don't think that really played a major role, but I think that all the signs, adding up all the things, the Boputhatswana thing, and also then the State of Emergency to an extent and the realisation that he will have no power base whatsoever if he didn't participate.

     You'll have to excuse me now otherwise I.

Q     Yes, no no it's pretty exciting, I've just got to the end. You've been very ... with me, thank you for your time.

S     You're welcome.

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.