July-December 1990

11 July, 1990


Walter Sisulu, c. 1998

On July 11, 1990.  ANC leader as a  Night Club Entertainer.  Walter Sisulu was 78 years old. A few months after he was released Sisulu was interviewed “talk show” presentation (taped for television) in a Northern suburb bar and restaurant in Johannesburg.  At that point all publicity was good publicity. In the interview,  Sisulu stood fast on nationalization.  “His view is that it is not an ideological question but it must be tried because it is the only possible way of addressing social issues.  It is one of the set of tools that is available for social and economic development.  He did provide a caveat.  The ANC is committed to nationalization.  That is our policy now.  However, he said, circumstances can change.  No one will know what the circumstances of the future can bring.”  [There seems to be little comparative sense of the dangers of inefficiency in nationalization.  This may be a lack of knowledge of Eastern Europe or Africa] or it may reflect a faith in the skills of South African managers- that assumes a Western European style of public sector is possible].

Focus was on Natal. “The Natal violence is part of state violence.  They created the Bantustans and the ANC defends itself against the Bantustans.  Inkatha is part of the state structure.”

As a Young Activist

As A Young Activist

“The problem is we are trying to get Buthelezi with us. We will meet Buthelezi plus his uncle the King at the royal place.  We will meet with Buthelezi there but not at Ulundi which is the Bantustan headquarters.  Mandela was his lawyer after all and the lawyer of the Zulu King.  They kept up correspondence even when Mandela was in prison.” [One can note here the implication that the ANC is appealing to the Zulu monarchy over Buthelezi’s head].

The Groote Schuur meetings were important to Sisulu. ” We had only the first meeting there.  For the first time we were able to understand each other.  We are in the very early stages of the process.”

On De Klerk:  He has the government, he has the state.  He is the one who has to deal with the right wing.  We will help him to move to a non-racial government.  Government must be the first to denounce violence.  Peace must come from both sides as part of a negotiations process.  We will find a solution- not over night- but we will find a solution.

With regard to Sanctions, [Sisulu was very hesitant on this] this is a method that is less than violence that can bring negotiations. On Minority Rights-  “the key is to create a better understanding between people.  Also constitutional rights are important but the key is the development of understanding between people.”

Ethnicity- this is divisive.  We are aiming at uniting people.  The cornerstone of the ANC is to end tribalism.  This came from the very beginning of the ANC in 19k12.

On the political role of the ANC, we have the ear of the masses, not control of the masses. “With regard to academics, he says they are a part of the “creative machinery” that we have available.”

October 4, 1990

One notes that all politicians, left, right and center, have accepted the vocabulary though not the substance of political transformation and social and economic integration.  Just as there were no Nazis in post-war Germany, there are no apartheidists in South Africa apart from those on the far right and indeed the far right avoids racist and segregationist language at least in official publications and speeches talking only of ethnic or communal differences.  Invariably, the thinking, particularly of local level and regional politicians is often muddled and contradictory.

October 8, 1990

On this day I interviewed Prof. Prof. Carel W. Boshoff intellectual leader of the far right among white South Africans.  He was a most polite, and gentle person with a light smile and a projected sense of fair play.

October 12, 1990

Access to policy elites in South Africa has been excellent. In spite of people’s busy schedules, they have made time for interviews. There is very little of the “big fish in a small pond” smugness that one finds in many places. Thus far only three people, John Kane-Berman of the South Africa Institute of Race Relations, Ann Bernstein of the Urban Foundation, and Deputy Minister Rolf Meyer, of the Department of Constitutional Development, have refused my request for an interview. Kane-Berman and Bernstein refused interview requests in both 1988 and 1990. Meyer was as we know now very tied up with negotiations.


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