TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
POLITICAL PARTY SUBMISSIONS
DATE: 16 MAY 1997
HELD AT: CAPE TOWN
NAME: FREEDOM FRONT
CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, can we please stand.
THE HEARING IS OPENED WITH A PRAYER
CHAIRPERSON: Please be seated.
Good morning. As you know we welcome you all heartily here this morning. Mostly we would like to say welcome and express our appreciation to General Constand Viljoen and those who have accompanied him here today, for coming and we welcome you very warmly.
We look forward to the interaction between ourselves and yourself and your party because we believe that you have an important contribution to make to the process in which we are engaged of uncovering the truth about our past and seeking to work for the healing of our traumatised alienated, separated, wounded people.
I believe you will be wanting to present your submission to us. Thank you very much. I will ask everyone whether you are all going to testify or whether you will be the only one testifying.
GEN VILJOEN: I will be the only who will be doing the submission, but I'm sure that the other members would like to assist me in answering questions.
CHAIRPERSON: So all four of you are then going to testify? And possibly all of you are going to answer questions. So may I ask that all four of you - Could you please introduce your people General?
GEN VILJOEN: I am General Viljoen leader of the Freedom Front and on my left is Advocate Rosier De Ville, he is a member of the National Council of Provinces. On my right is Dr Corné Mulder, who is a member of the National Assembly representing the Freedom Front and he to his right is Lt Tienie Groenewald, a member of the National Council of Provinces and also of the Freedom Front.
DR DU TOIT: General since all of you are probably going to participate in the proceedings and you have already placed your names on records, I am going to administer the oath to all of you and then you could all affirm. Perhaps I could ask your colleagues to stand. I assume that you have no objection to the taking of the prescribed oath.
ALL REPRESENTATIVES TAKE THE OATH
CHAIRPERSON: I don't want to take time, I just want to say that we know the role that you played and your people in especially the period just before the elections and how by agreeing to negotiate with some of the parties that are now in government, you helped to forestall what could have been a very bloody period in the history of our land. We want to say that all of us value enormously the contributions of patriots such as yourself, and we know that the Nation is sitting and waiting with eagerness to hear what your particular perspectives are on the conflict of the past, how you see the role that you and your people might have in the process of healing all the hurts of the past and to contribute to the process of reconciliation so that we will be able to live together in this beautiful land that God has given to all of us people of all races here in South Africa.
May I just introduce my colleagues on the panel. On my extreme left is Glenda Wildschut, who is a commissioner and she is a member of our Rehabilitations and Reparations Committee based here in the Western Cape. Denzil Potgieter is a commissioner based in our office in the Western Cape and is a member at present of the Human Rights Violations Committee. On my immediate right is Dr Alex Boraine the deputy chairperson of the Commission and Dumisa Ntsebeza, a commissioner, head of our Investigative Unit and based here in our Cape Town office, and then Advocate Mpshe who is the chief leader of evidence in our Amnesty Process and Dr Verwoerd, who is part of our research unit. I won't give you his background. Thank you very much for the copies that you have given us, and now it is over to you.
GEN VILJOEN: Mr Chair I will deliver the first part of my submission in Afrikaans and then I will switch over to English. I am going to do it differently than the previous submission. We get the impression that our language is being threatened and I was asked by my caucus to do my submission in Afrikaans. I will answer the questions in the language they were put to me.
Archbishop, and honourable Commissioners, I have a document from which I'm going to speak, it's not the same one that you have, it is introductory remarks, an introductory statement. This document will be handed over to you at the end of the submission, you don't have to worry to take notes but I thought it would be better if we could communicate and talk about the process.
During August 1996 we made a submission to you in which we tried to explain the strategic and political context to you from the perspective of our party about the past and the Commission put a number of questions to us, the document we then gave to you was the response that we made available to you. We apologised for the fact that the previous document we sent to the Commission had some spelling mistakes in it but this one is the correct document.
The document in front of you must therefore be read together with the 1996 document and for the benefit of you and the press, we brought some of the '96 documents with us if some of the people do not have them. The evidence or the document I'm going to put before you, I am doing it for the ethnic Afrikaner, I also do it from the perspective of hundreds of thousands of ex-soldiers and policemen who did not specifically give a mandate to me because they do not all belong to my party, but who do have an interest in the evidence I'm going to give. People who diligently and loyally and correctly acted, I want to speak from their perspective.
I also speak from the perspective of a number of perpetrators, a small percentage also of my own people. One can never forgive a perpetrator if he acted without and out of the context of his mandate. The role I am fulfilling, and within that role, I am aware of the circumstances in which these perpetrators acted and although I can't say what they did was right, it is my policy that we must not reject these people. If healing must be brought about it must also be brought about from the perspective of these perpetrators.
I am also speaking from the perspective of a struggle which was political and a military problem, These two things cannot be easily separated from each other. I cannot separate myself from the political leaders of the past and I also expect that the political leaders of the past will not distance themselves from our role in the past. I am willing to take the responsibility of the political aspects as well as the military or strategical aspects.
For the benefit of convenience you have the document in front of you, I'm not going to answer those questions, it's going to take too much time, I'm sure you have read it, but you are welcome to ask us further questions when we come to that.
This second submission of 1997 therefore, we must add to the introductory remarks and that is then the complete submission to the Truth Commission in our role in helping you to fulfil your duties as a Commission.
In the first place I want to speak about the Freedom Front and its mandate. The Freedom Front can properly ask, why are we here today? Why are we in front of the Commission? We were actually only launched in 1994. This submission is specifically about the political past of South Africa. It touches the image and the feeling of self-worth of my people and therefore the mandate that I have and the background to that mandate is that we are able to speak about the actions of the past and that we must keep up our policy today and we must also be honest about what our policy will be in the future. Mr de Klerk in this same hall has attacked this group of whom I am the leader. He accused us of being the bad people who acted in a bloodthirsty way and used violence for that purpose. He spoke about the historical achievements of the National Party that demonstrate how the National Party in its submission was party orientated. He tries to justify the party. That's not our goal, we are saying, us the ethnic Afrikaners, the subgroup of Afrikaners whom we are speaking for, that is why we must talk from the perspective of the ethnic Afrikaners who cannot divide or separate themselves from the past.
What you will have before you as the Commission and what you will have to judge us on is what is before you, hence I have already admitted and I would like to reiterate today that of course we considered the possibility of rebellion. Mr de Klerk was correct, we did consider it, we did commit certain acts. We tried not to commit human rights violations, we selected our acts and we tried to act in a justifiable manner, but there were certain acts committed, and because of that it is our objective not just to qualify ourselves for amnesty according to the Act by applying for amnesty, but it is also our contribution to ensure that you as a Commission follows the right course for the future.
And in my discussion this morning I would like to speak about the present and the future, because that is more positive, and at the end of my submission I will try to deal with the past because the Freedom Front as a party was established then, because we as ethnic Afrikaners were in the crises when the National Party as a party, was supported by us through all the years, and when we realised that they were sidelining us without our mandate to do what they were doing, we decided to form this group and it is this group which we are representing politically today and whom we speak for. We have come a long way in South Africa and we are not ashamed about that. It is the group which had a historical development which also suffered in this country as a group, which together with other people in this country built up this country. It is a group with specific identities, it is a group with its own language and we are proud of that language, and if any attempt is made to take that language away from us, we will resist. It is a group with its own system of values which we will maintain at all costs in spite of the majority which we are faced with. It is a group in essence Mr Chairperson which wants to remain what we are and would like to maintain our identity.
The first theme which I will discuss with you this morning Mr Chairperson, is the differentiation between the National Party, who they represent and the Freedom Front and whom we represent. So often we ethnic Afrikaners, or more conservative Afrikaners, are seen as black sheep of the past. So much so that a finger has been pointed to us about third force activities, but there's a basic difference between the Freedom Front and the National Party, and our past and the past of the National Party. We as the Freedom front, as I said to you, want to maintain the identity of our folk, we are fighting for the continued existence of our folk within the plurality of the New South Africa. The National Party has a different approach. They have a hunger for power, they are searching for being in government, they are looking for a new crew of supporters who are based on the objective of taking over power.
The result hereof Mr Chairperson was that the ethnic Afrikaner, especially '94 and '93 and '92, felt left out. The party in its past suddenly had this turn we saw ourselves as having other priorities apart from the Afrikaner and the others, this is the National Party. They refused to listen to us when we spoke, and felt very sensitive about us talking about Afrikaners and the Afrikaner identity because they were too afraid that their new associates and their new opponents and the new party members would get the impression that they were being racist. It was then really a problem for them in the newly born South African democracy.
We also believe in democracy Mr Chairperson, but we also believe that democracy is not possible without the price of maintaining your own identity. Fortunately we started the negotiating process which we participated in and it was successful, and within this negotiating process we comprehended the need of the Afrikaner much better, than in the National Party. The ANC agreed that we could accept self sufficiency within the new system, self determination and they then signed an accord and they undertook that the differences such as this, that in the future we would discuss peacefully.
The peace accord is what basically we all believed in a democratic South Africa and that everyone in South Africa in some or other way had to be involved in democracy and, in addition to that Afrikaner self-determination was an important point, Afrikaner self-determination was not in conflict with the idea of democracy in South Africa. This was a very important matter which I just mentioned to
you Mr Chairperson because it is a good demonstration of a principle which deals about equality and another two principles, firstly that before you go to battle, you first have to look at every other alternative and secondly, before you go to war, you have to consider the costs of such a war. So this ethnic group of Afrikaners did consider violence and at that stage we regarded it as unnecessary. We said enough is enough, somewhere the violence has to come to a stop in this country and we believe that there was an alternative which would help us to achieve what we wanted to achieve in a better way, and which we might not have been able to achieve with violence.
Honourable Chairperson, it was not that easy. There was so much pressure on us when we took these decisions. The actions that we had planned had been at an advanced stage, we were actually in a position of power and within our peoples' minds, there was a willingness and a emotions were running very high around about 1994, and they were also very disappointed, most of them were very disappointed. After all the hard work, the readiness which they were prepared to sacrifice and also the fear in so many of them, that this alternative on which we had decided together with the ANC to negotiate, was probably a bit vague and that there were risks involved that we would be disadvantaged somewhere along the way in reaching this objective.
Yet the alternative worked Mr Chairperson, and we achieved a certain number of votes in the national elections and that was after a four week campaign. We also Mr Chairperson created a new vision for the Party with this new direction which we followed, a new vision for the ethnic Afrikaner which included certain constitutional protectional measures and a new comprehension of self-determination which is an internationally accepted one in contrast to apartheid, it was not apartheid but it was a well-known applicable measure which if applied in that way, could be one that could happen without any conflict or violence.
The Afrikaner community can by means of the principle of self-determination, once again be empowered, while at this moment we feel very disempowered by things like especially the Kempton Park Constitution which was individual orientated. The active constructive work which was also in the way of the Freedom Front, we accepted it as a part of our new vision. We said in our new vision, let us go back to the original objective of the Afrikaner and that was peaceful coexistence and especially playing a role of entrepreneurship in the New System.
We also decided that the Afrikaner had to go back to it's old principles that we did not want to rule other people, that we would live with other people peacefully and we would distance ourselves from the National Party, that the Afrikaner would consolidate with a large group of other people and rule with other groups in a large group. We are not power hungry, we are not striving for government of anything like that, we are striving for coexistence in a New South Africa where we could all benefit positively from what we have got.
I am not busy politicising Mr Chairperson, but what I am doing here is giving the Commission a demonstration of how conflict-management can take place in the right way. What in you in your judgement of the past will have to consider about the conflict-management which was applied in the past is something I considered, that's why I started with the past, to take you as a Commission and show you that this is a study where we are busy applying the rules of conflict management. We did consider violence, we considered it very carefully and at the right stage we switched to a more acceptable, and hopefully the same reachable objective which we would have reached in other ways.
Some persons, Mr Chairperson are cynical about this approach of ours, some people say it will not work, some say we are being led around by our noses, some are saying that this accord of yours is a fraud, think of Piet Retief, he signed an accord and he was murdered. We are saying, and it is included in the accord, that we did this in good faith, we signed it in good faith with the ANC and we accepted in good faith what the other party also signed. The alternative for this conflict-management which we attempted to reach is a complex matter, it is not something that can be reached overnight, we have a long way to go and it takes a long process of transition and in a way we have to unravel the Old South Africa and the New South Africa to reach the position where we as the Afrikaners feel that we can continue our existence in safety.
Of course it is also a road filled with risks. It is a road where we will have collisions and of course many of our people after three years are very impatient because we have only thus far managed to achieve the constitutional provisions and we have nothing to show the practical implementation thereof.
Also Chairperson, in the ethnic Afrikaner community, there is great dissatisfaction about our language, we are not satisfied with education, we feel that our communities are disempowered in every possible way and we are simply overpowered by the position of the majority rule. But self-determination honourable Chairperson, cannot just remain an academic thing, it cannot just remain theoretical, there are many things that which have to be done and there has to be some kind of movement in this direction. Thus far we believe that we have invested ourselves in the new vision which the Party tried to implement. We believe that we will get our dividends which are peace, success and safety for everyone in South Africa.
So the Freedom Front is a new party which is trying to play a new role in the lives of the Afrikaners. We are prepared to look the past squarely in the eye and stick with our mandate which is to advance the interests of the Afrikaner, not exclusively but as part and a role-player of the past of this country. I would say an unmissable role player in the past of this country. I will now switch to English.
Mr Chairperson let me analyse what has happened around these intriguing origins of the new party for it may be relevant for the issue of reconciliation in South Africa. We met to consider alternatives to violence. Why? Because we have agreed in the accord in specific terms to be conflict-preventing, to negotiate rather than to make war. What really happened here is that we both sides have adhered to the very basic rules regarding the concept of a just war, that is to explore all alternatives before you resort to violence. I myself was under immense pressure to go for war, even today I am often pressurised when my people feel frustrated as I've explained, because of the slow process and because of the process towards self determination, not really at the moment meeting the expectations that my supporters had. Some even feel or suggest that resistance should again be followed and they mentioned the possibility of the IRA model. But I've adhered to this principle in the just theory of war. All other possibilities must be fully explored and that is what we are busy doing. So we talk.
I gather that the Deputy President has announced in his presentation on Monday in this Commission, that we have reached an important stage in our negotiations on the issue of self determination. Yes I agree with him, we are not in full agreement on all aspects of this ideal but we talk and we deal and we will reach some agreement, and if we reach a certain agreement and we want to further explore the ideas then we will do so in the future to come. Had the National Party government Chairperson and the liberation movements done so, almost fifty years ago, even after that, the history of this country would have been totally different.
Now I would like to deal with our past. In dealing with our past the public sessions of this Commission which an effort was made to come to some understanding on the whole and some of the detail of the conflict of the past, have resulted in a picture of the past which we have to deal with. We have to take note of the fact that certain sections of the population have not come forth, so we do not have a complete picture, we have unfortunately failed to address the apprehensions in order to facilitate participation of these people.
I have left you some clues on the perceptions of our constituency on this in the past in my presentation so far. I have now added elucidation apropos your written questions and will hopefully do so in cross-examination. I just want to repeat a few points on the issue of the explanations that are offered in the August 1996 document and those explanations are not excuses because I am not offering excuses, but I'm trying to give some explanations for the perception that the Afrikaner also the ethnic Afrikaner has been rather insensitive in the past on the issue on the rights of others. And I am only mentioning the points that I described in my previous August presentation.
Firstly the unacceptability of my people to accept the option of violence taken by the ANC.
Secondly the complete lack of communication from both sides which has certainly contributed to the inability of both sides to solve this problem.
Thirdly, young civilized brutality of the methods of war, and I'm referring to intimidation, arson, necklacing, etc.
Fourthly the spirit of lawlessness and the disregard of authority as transpired from the revolution of the methods used by our opponents.
Fifthly the revolutionary methods of warfare which to us was also totally unacceptable. We have been used to conventional war. To us it was an adaptation, we had to adapt all our techniques in 196O to switch over from the concept of more conventional wars to that of fighting this kind of revolutionary war.
Then the sixth point is communist involvement and I have dealt with, at length, in my previous presentations in this regard.
Seventh, the destruction, the anarchy that took place. The destruction of our economy, the schools and the destruction of the educational system. To us that made it very difficult for us to show much sensitivity.
And then the difference in cultures, and lastly the love of freedom of my people, the ethnic Afrikaner and our great ideal for which we have sacrificed a lot over 300 years, and that is the idea to govern over ourselves. And it is tragic that eventually this power-hungry approach of our political masters of the last few decades has now caused us to lose this very treasured aspect of the Afrikaner and that is the love to be able to govern over himself.
But allow me a remark of a general nature, on particularly the sessions with the political parties so far for the conflict of the past was essentially a political one which calls for political accountability. I'm afraid we have all done the same. Some did it more eloquently with more vigour but it was very much the same. We have explained our motivations, we have defended our actions, we have justified our causes. In the difficult questions we have resorted to contextualising otherwise rather indefensible actions. We have claimed provocation of a compelling nature, we have been weighing up the relative morality of our case, causes and our actions and we have concluded that reconciliation is the answer and reparations are necessary to the extent that is possible.
Let me be frank with you, I have not bought all these things that I said and I am not sure that we are getting anywhere. I have for instance not bought from the ANC their assumption that there was no other option than revolutionary violence in 1961 and I have not accepted their explanations of adequate measures having been taken to protect non-combatants, given their type of warfare and I have not accepted their explanations that the fate of councillors and of what they call collaborators was only the responsibility of irate communities they have tried to serve.
There are many more that I can add but I don't want to make a political speech on this. I also want to criticise the National Party for basically the same reasons and particularly for claiming to have clean hands, thereby passing the blame to the operators' level. There is a strong effort to put the blame on the other party in this TRC process. Unfortunately this has resulted in various political justifications and political footwork, also with the sessions of this Commission. It is to my mind not of great importance to determine who is really the more guilty party in this situation because none of us can really claim clean hands. In my analysis of the past I shall try to raise the level of consideration rather to the matters of principle and try to refrain from the gruesome detail of the lower levels, because these principles I maintain, can be applied as principles in future conflicts. To take from the past what is good and precious and to build our future on that which is what our president Paul Kruger had said when he was in exile shortly before his death.
In generalising the wars or the conflicts of the past one can use guidelines of just war principles, even though these principles are more applicable for conventional types of war. At least by using them you follow certain existing criteria. I shall deal now with two questions on this issue.
Firstly, can either side claim their cause to be just? And secondly can the methods used by either side be regarded as just methods and acceptable applications of force? Have the causes been just?
According to the principles of just war, there are some criteria which have to be used in facilitating judgement. Firstly the cause must be just and the intent justifiable. Secondly the principle of proportional violence must be adhered to. The total good to be achieved must be in proportion to the evil anticipated in the application of force. Thirdly the war should be waged by a recognised authority and lastly the use of force should be the last resort.
Those are, there might be more but those are the important ones applicable in my opinion to this conflict that we are now discussing. The liberation movements argue very strongly on their case being a just one and that violence was the only option. It is true that they did offer the possibility of a national convention. However some strong arguments could be, and in fact had been raised in the debates at the time of the decision of the ANC in 1961 to opt for the violent situation.
It is doubtful in my mind whether the last resort criteria would be satisfied with this decision of the ANC. It also has been pointed out earlier some periodic efforts to explore alternatives over three decades would have proved greater preparedness to satisfy the requirements of this principle of just war. Even the international condemnation of apartheid was not enough reason to justify not endeavouring to break the cycle of violence somewhere along the three decades of this conflict.
The former state of which I've been part will certainly fail this criteria for not being prepared to explore alternatives at the beginning and during the three decades of conflict. It is often argued that this war effort on the part of the state could not be justified and that the former state was an illegitimate regime defending a crime against humanity. I don't buy this and regard this argument in terms of just war principles as just political propaganda. (end of tape) ..... recognised and certainly had the obligation to defend its inhabitants and to maintain stability. In addition to this there was the perceived fact of international communist expansion and subversion that recognised no borders. The former state could probably justify the defensive action in the just war principles, it would however fail in not having sought political alternatives at the beginning and in the duration of this conflict.
In my opinion therefore, both sides will also fail the criteria of proportionality. If not at the beginning, then at least along the way of the three decades. It could have been expected of the conflicting parties to weigh up the total good against the evil of the overall damage to human values that the conflict was causing. Then this counting of the costs could have brought a sooner end to the conflict.
In weighing up the justice of the cause on both sides, this South African conflict could also not be considered in isolation. The entire region had gone through a period of destabilisation as the three major conflict issues in the region. That of colonialism, communist aggression and expansion, and apartheid, interacted with each other. Again without the recognition of boundaries from all sides.
The lessons I submit in considering the just war aspect are the following:
Firstly the last resort criteria is vital to prevent violent actions. This should be a guideline for the future.
Secondly the communication, talking and negotiation, are the channels to defuse conflict and should be facilitated by outsiders if required.
And thirdly the principle of proportionality is never properly considered when the decision on violence is taken. Therefore periodical stock takings whilst the conflict develops is advisable in the application of this criteria.
Now I'd like to switch over to the justness of the methods used in war. This aspect of a just war theory must in analysing this conflict be seen in the context of the type of war or the conflict that we were involved. The destructiveness of this kind of war cannot be compared with the physical destructiveness or power of for example, conventional weapons and especially nuclear weapons. But in applying revolutionary war as a means of coercion, the destruction is more in the overall damage of human values. The damage to the mind can be worse than the damage to the body. This has become clear in the investigations so far by this Commission.
So again in this kind of war the principle of proportionality in the in the means applied is of great importance. I think neither side at the start of the conflict had foreseen so much damage to human values in the three decades, and never in the course of conflict over three decades had this position been reconsidered by either side. Now we sit with a destroyed economy, a lost generation, a huge backlog in education and skilled human resources and a major problem of crime which is no doubt also linked to the spirit of lawlessness from the revolution and the availability of surplus unregistered arms in our country.
Revolutionary war Chairperson is as evil as nuclear war. It remains at best a very doubtful form of warfare, closely linked to terrorism. Terrorism is completely rejectable as a means of war because it is aimed at the defenceless. It is also a crime against humanity. So the use of terrorism to fight terrorism is equally evil. The problem with these kinds of war is that it invites unconventional action from those combatting it on the basis of it takes a thief to catch a thief. When the liberation movements for example, moved the battle lines into the townships and disappeared operating without uniforms, using the human bush to hide themselves in, this invited new techniques from those combatting and those defending, those techniques such as infiltration, booby traps, and all the others that you have come across in your investigations so far.
One of the strongest moral principles of any war according to the just war theory is that of non-combatants should be saved the ravages of war. The liberation movements in this conflict gradually relaxed this principle and at the end intentionally applied violence with little consideration of targets involved. In the just war principles it is accepted at times civilian casualties might occur but it is expected from the warring sides to try to avoid this with a great sense of responsibility. Murder is in no way justified. The theory states that in certain circumstances even political officials in this kind of war could become legitimate targets, but this is certainly not the rule. I'm afraid that in this principle of just war, taking care of non-combatants, we have seen the worst failures of this conflict.
To sum up the lessons on the justness in the means of war Chairperson, I would like to say the major failure has been the disregard of non-combatants. That is by no way secondary, that is by no way an argument that the revolutionary war, and particularly terrorism could qualify the test of a just war. And thirdly, the real damage to human values is never correctly calculated and foreseen and it is tremendous.
So in dealing with the past from the principles of a just war is not comforting. Again as I said, we all intend to defend our actions, but whether we like it or not, there are indefensible actions from both sides. Why then can't we agree that we all have dirty hands from whatever side you want to approach this crucible, is it necessary to rationalise and contextualise and proceed on this futile course of trying to win a ball game of the past? For what results from this is the culture of not taking political responsibility. We fought a war that should have been avoided or terminated at a much earlier stage and we fought a dirty war. And what also results from this is that we fail to achieve the basic and constitutionally determined goal of this exercise which is reconciliation.
Let me conclude with a few general remarks on this issue of reconciliation. I want to start off by saying that I think that there's a general agreement that the final aim of the TRC is the promotion of national unity and reconciliation. It is perhaps not even necessary to argue the point. From the constitutional as well as from the legislative intent is clear. Let me say that I have no doubt that we are all serious, I hope we are all serious about achieving this goal. When legislation was considered for the purpose of establishing this Commission, I have often raised my doubts about the aspects of this effort because I fear politicians use the Commission for their own purposes and we may in the end find that we have hatched a number of new devils and produce counterproductive results. In the end however, I've accepted this effort for the sake of finding the final goal of reconciliation. It was this consideration that made me change my mind in favour of cooperating with this Commission, even though I had voted against the legislation in Parliament.
I want to suffice with a basic submission that important as the investigative work of the Commission this may have been for the sake of arriving at a better insight of the nature of nature of the extent of the conflict of the past, there is a very wide-spread and indeed growing public fear, the way things have developed this far, we run the risk of failing in our basic mission of affecting reconciliation and national unity. What I am suggesting is that there seems to be no clear strategy for reconciliation that permeates and coordinates the different aspects of work of this Commission. This fear is not restricted to the Afrikaner community alone, it is much wider. We may have been naive in assuming that once the truth has been revealed, reconciliation will follow as a matter of course.
One of the banners that you use at your sessions suggests that truth is the way to reconciliation and I'm sure this might be true, but the problem I think is that while we have structured many of the basic aspects of the work of the Commission, we fail to provide for the concerted and even structured planning for the search of the most important ideal, which is reconciliation. In fact I'm not sure whether we have at all consensus about what reconciliation in this society really means. In a deeply divided society it is of utmost importance to my mind to look for a specific and inclusive strategy and for all the means we can find to actively and at all times work towards this basic goal of reconciliation. This is especially true for an exercise like this, where we dissect, and analyse the trauma of the past to the point that if we have no way of reconstruction or realigning in a meaningful way, the net effect might be more divisive than uniting, causing further damage rather than healing the nation. We have in the process opened many old wounds which, if left unattended, will cause more bleeding and leave even greater scars in our society.
Let me put it another way, if the work of the Commission in the work so far, not enough has happened to transcend the divisions and the trauma of the past and to rise to the challenge and the level of the future. Perhaps its present structures of the Commission have not allowed for this. We may have facilitated a national masochism which may result in a political masochism of a destructive nature very shortly. I'm not sure that we come out stronger and more resolute from this process. In fact from what I have observed and from the proceedings I have the impression that the polarised components of our society have been reconfirmed and not dissolved as we hoped it would be, and in some communities like mine, a distinct result of further alienation has been achieved.
In view of these things it is my considered opinion that we, above all need to expedite the winding up of the work of this Commission before any value flowing from the work of the past becomes neutralised by possible counterproductive results. I suggest that this process, unless we put a limit to it, can go on indefinitely, which I think will not be conducive to the production of the concept of reconciliation.
The research department of the Commission could recommend further investigations, selected investigations, which may be too important to cut out, but let us draw the lines together to understand the truth of the past by debating your report on this in Parliament and also if necessary in civil society. Let us find ways of expediting the work of the Amnesty Committee and the Reparations Committee, especially the latter.
I feel strongly Chairperson that even in the remaining structured operations of the Commission, the purpose of reconciliation should be more explicitly built into the work of the committees. A better alternative to my mind will be, an amendment to the empowering legislation to allow for a specific committee of reconciliation that would serve the purpose of ensuring that this idea would be achieve and not be neglected. This new committee could serve in a coordination role and could also consider difficult individual and community cases, and could come up with strategies adapted to specific situations that could be implemented to bring about reconciliation in real terms.
A final an far more far reaching for the proposal on my part for the purpose of affecting reconciliation at the different levels of society, is that once the present phase of the work of the Commission has been completed, a reconciliation committee, if it is instituted, or as an alternative, a newly established small continuation Commission of the TRC, be tasked to find ways of affecting reconciliation in real terms based on the information the research department has produced and concentrating on situations that have been exposed and that need to be attended to. This committee could also identify organs of civil and religious society that could be briefed and employed to fulfil this task on a more permanent basis in the future. True reconciliation in a deeply divided society require long-term planning and concerted effort.
That Chairperson, concludes my presentation and this is our contribution to which we hope you will find useful in the search of your Commission on the real road to reconciliation. I am now prepared to answer questions.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much General, we appreciate the points that you have made so clearly and so eloquently. I will now ask Advocate Mpshe to start.
ADV MPSHE: Thank you Mr Chairperson. General the questions I am going to ask you flow forth from the memorandum you have handed in to us, especially the one dated 6 February 1997. I am aware of the fact that there are a number of pages involved and I will quote from this submission. I will give you the pages and the paragraph and you are welcome to read these parts before you answer the questions.
Unfortunately my questions have been asked in English but I accept that Afrikaans is also an important language in South Africa.
General the first broad answer on the motives and perspectives of ethnic Afrikaners is quite crucial to the mandate of the TRC and requires some further clarification. In both submissions you highlight the lasting detrimental impact of the conflict between British Imperialism and the struggle for independence by the Boer Republics during the previous century. May I kindly request that you elaborate briefly on the following statement found on page 2 of the second submission which, if we are not mistaken, should be read together with your response to question 20 on page 25 and 26 still on the second submission. I then quote what is said in that submission.
The result was war and trauma of a sort that have in a way not yet been resolved.
Now this is found on page 2 of your second submission, the first paragraph thereof.
And the next point will be a quotation again where you say,
Of course the entire development of the new phase of Afrikaner Nationalism can be explained this background,
that is on page 26,
namely that few non-Afrikaners seem to have cared and that the devastation and the agony of lost hopes relating to a just cause superseded personal grief and mourning.
As I indicated, page 25, paragraph 3 thereof and the last quotation from there,
Under the circumstances of present day South Africa there is a strong revival of, trauma related nationalism amongst the Afrikaner.
That is on page 26 paragraph 3. With this having been quoted to you General, then my questions would follow.
On what basis do you draw these conclusions if there is any documentary evidence or if there are people within or even without the Afrikaner community which share your views in this regard, may this be divulged to us?
GEN VILJOEN: Chairperson, what you're actually saying to me is that the Afrikaner, as I claim as a non-violent person, we had a violent reaction in 1899 to 1902 and then we, are you referring to a revival of the feeling of, or the perceived threat of isolation, of being overrun, being flushed by numbers?
ADV MPSHE: Yes that is so.
GEN VILJOEN: Ja. I would like to start off Chairperson by saying that this new reaction of the Afrikaner people, I have tried to explain comes from what we perceive to be the betrayal of the ethnic Afrikaner but the National Party. It happened in the case of the Afrikaner and it also happened in the case of the former black homelands which were created by the National Party.
Secondly, I would say that this newly activated trauma in the Afrikaner people comes from the rejection in the World Trade Centre of the Conservative views, a rejection not only from the National Party but also from the ANC. In fact the ANC and the National Party joined hands in rejecting what the more conservative Afrikaner was trying to suggest for the sake of self determination, and they must immediately admit that at that stage we have been so sophisticated in our demands on what we really wanted to have for self determination as we are at the moment. So the ganging up of the ANC and the National Party had really caused a sense of fate to the Afrikaner people.
Then I would also say that the sacrificing of self determination of the Afrikaner with no substitute in the place thereof. The acknowledgement of Mr de Klerk in London that he has sacrificed the self determination of the Afrikaner, that is a proof of it. Now I have referred to in my presentation, the one thing that we must never forget, is the strong urge within the Afrikaner to govern over himself. Over the three hundred years of our history this has been proved. It started with the Free Burgers, a few years after Jan van Riebeeck landed in the Cape, then already at that stage, by then, remember where we came from. We had in ourselves the spirit of freedom and at that stage they were not even prepared to accept the Netherlands East India Company authority, they wanted to govern themselves.
When we couldn't reach agreement on the Eastern Cape in the Border wars and we clashed with the British Government at that stage, we packed our wagons and we trekked to the north in order to find freedom. When eventually we were confronted by the biggest power in the world at that stage firstly in 1880, we took up weapons to fight them. So we were sacrificing at that stage for the sake of our people, for the sake of being free to govern ourselves.
But then of course as I have also pointed the other points that I have mentioned to you when I quoted the explanations as to why the Afrikaner reacted in certain ways. I think the dangers and the perception of international communism, the rejectability of conventional war methods or revolutionary methods that we have seen so far, I think the basic differences in culture, all those points I can mention Chairperson, as contributing factors towards what I have mentioned in there as a strong revival of the trauma-related nationalism amongst the Afrikaner.
It is true that the Afrikaner has gone in the '60's and the 70's through a stage of materialistic advance, and it is true that in this period, the Nationalism faded away, but as soon as the Afrikaner is placed under pressure, this then again ignites and it will grow.
So this is the reason why we have come to this conclusion. Is that more or less the answer or would you like something in addition?
ADV MPSHE: Yes and no. Given the answer as you have done, does this perspective help to explain why relatively few Afrikaners today seem really prepared to take responsibility for the negative consequences of this trauma-related nationalism. Is it because they continue to see themselves as victims as we indicated by their attitude towards the work of the Commission? Is it now explained by your answer?
GEN VILJOEN: No I can just maybe add a little. I would say that I don't think few Afrikaners are ignoring the realities of the past. I think many Afrikaners are. Maybe what you wanted to say is that few of the leaders do so and remember what I said in my presentation. When you approach this from the party-political point of view, you always find excuses and you manipulate party-political cliches, but this is not what I'm trying to do. I think that in general many Afrikaners accepted things in the past were not always 100% correct but also, you must bear in mind that many Afrikaners were absolutely convinced about the directions that we have taken in the past. I'm not sure whether I should expand on this but one can talk a lot about the basic conception of the Afrikaner people, how he developed and how eventually self determination was tried in the homelands system and what went wrong with that. There are many reasons for that but the whole idea of self determination, the whole idea of self-governing areas, the idea of separate development was not bad, it was not meant at that stage to govern over other people, it was actually trying to create situations where everybody could govern themselves. But the basic mistake was that it was done for the people and not with them. Had the ideas of separate development been negotiated with and talked through with the leaders of the other population groups, there might have been a different solution to this altogether, and I therefore think that the Afrikaner of today is in a certain way, of course we don't accept what has happened in the past, and one can never justify all the acts that have taken place in the past. But all I want to say is that we must not generalise and the Afrikaner must not be demonised for the actions that we have taken by generalisation. A few Afrikaners that have faulted is not the general attitude of the Afrikaner people. We are a much prouder people than that.
ADV MPSHE: One of the consequences of Afrikaner 'trauma-related nationalism', as pointed out by yourself was the following,
When liberation fires came in Africa,
firstly read page 2 paragraph 4 there is a second submission, may I proceed? Thank you.
When liberation fires came in Africa, the Afrikaners dug in their heels, given the losses of the past that had to be avoided, so they produced what they believed was a master plan. But it was based more on ideology than on reality which can only be understood from the threatened mind set of the embattled Afrikaner community.
Could you be a bit more specific on this and in addition are you referring to the policy of separate development? Does it differ from the original concept expounded upon by ...(indistinct) the concept of differentiation?
GEN VILJOEN: I think this might be a bit of a long answer but if I have to answer this you have to take it from the development of the conflict and how it developed. I think we must bear in mind that the South African conflict is not a simple one, it came from a simplistic number of factors. The complex grew from a conflict of interests of many peoples in this country. It grew because of the peculiar history. It grew because of the arbitrary colonial boundaries which we see all over Africa. It came before because of differences in civilisation, it became because of heterogeneity and the development in South Africa after the traditional, or the historical agrarian type of concentrations of people became disturbed by the modernisation of the economy by the diamonds and gold that became the items which drew people away from their agrarian living patterns towards the economy that created the new heterogenic nature in the country.
This certainly, the riches that we developed, this was part of the problem of the Afrikaner but also part of the problem of the African. Because the riches lured in foreigners and the foreigners came in and they started taking the riches for themselves, because the Afrikaners were at that stage more living in the agrarian type of life and the blacks were also living in the agrarian type of life, and then the Afrikaners moved towards the working opportunities and the Black people also moved towards the working opportunities.
So the modern economy caused the labour migrations and this caused conflict, and then the bedeviling factor as far as the Afrikaner was concerned was when Great Britain came in, deviated from its agreements on sovereignty for the two provinces of the Free State and Transvaal and started to put its hands on the riches of the Transvaal especially. The result was from this that the Afrikaner consolidated in and around a dangerous sentiment of being threatened, which is a collective feeling that we were collectively being threatened, we are collectively being treated in an unjust way, and that also unjust discrimination was being affected against the Afrikaner in his own land by the foreigners that came in and by the pressure from the British Government after annexation.
From the blacks we had the same problem. They also came in and they had the same problem of collective injustice because they were exploited in the labour fields and they were also experiencing or having the perception or feeling the perception of being deprived collectively. This also caused a conflict and when the Afrikaner went into conflict with the Anglo Boer War, that conflict ended unfortunately the way it did. And then thereafter the Afrikaner dug in their heels, they have resisted being overrun and they dug in their heels not to allow in any way, anybody to take over from them again, the government.
And this is an attitude of the Afrikaners, it's an historical fact, it's within the historical context of those days. But the Afrikaners were not lacking sensitivity towards the Blacks in amongst them. In fact what we could clearly see from the Afrikaner people is what we have seen in the Great Trek, whenever they went into an area of a tribe, they would see the chief or the headman of that tribe, they would negotiate with him, they would have good cooperation with him and never did they try to subvert that tribe for the sake of labour or for the sake of advancement of the Afrikaner's interests. But the clash came when both the Afrikaner and the black man after the Anglo Boer War and after the 1910 effort to make a constitution, because in this constitution the Afrikaner did not get what he wanted but the Black people also didn't get what they wanted.
So the master plan was then developed as we went on the new Union of South Africa, and in this master plan, the Afrikaner felt an urge to give independence to the Black people in the right way, how it used to be in the old days living in the agrarian patterns of living thereby caring for their ability to govern themselves, but I must admit also, for the sake of our own survival. And I don't think that was completely wrong.
Sir the basic motivation of the Afrikaner people in this historical period was that of finding a fair and equitable dispensation for themselves and for the other people in the country. This by the way Chairperson was in line with world tendencies of those days. You will recall that in the early parts of this century we used to have nation states, states which were pretty homogenous in their population and in the original applications principle of self determination after the first World War, the original meaning of self determination was actually to try to find an area where a homogenous nation would be grouped and they would govern themselves with as little as possible influence from elsewhere. But as this urbanisation took place and as the economy changed the world, the Afrikaner was also faced with a new concept or the new development, that of heterogeneity, that of sharing land and living space together.
I think the basic approach of the Afrikaner people was very just and very good and very honest but I think the problem came with making a few mistakes. Firstly by not consulting with the leaders of the Black people at that stage,or maybe I should say further by not consulting with the real leaders of the Black people at that stage.
Secondly their incorrect concept of self determination, but you can excuse them for this because at that stage even when I started with the principle of self determination in 1993, I still found many works on self determination referring to it as a concept of a nation state and the concept of self determination had changed as the composition of states became more heterogeneous.
So I think the difficulty of the Afrikaner and the mistake that was made, was that it wanted to force down the throats of the Black people each perception. In other words it was a paternalistic approach, maybe it was event the idea of caring for the people, of a mandate for caring for people, for looking after them because, maybe of a sense of superiority, but I think it was well meant, there is no doubt about it, but it was wrong to force down the throats of people a system of self determination, however good that might have been then, them not accepting this.
So I think those were the mistakes made but with a basic approach of separate development, much can be said about the good intention of this.
I want to add one thing more Chairperson, I'm not sure if we had good communication, if the channels of communication were open in 1961 and 1960, round about those days, even after the Freedom Charter of the ANC, I'm not sure whether, had the communication channels been opened, whether a modified form of the principle of separate development and governing yourself, whether that would not have materialised, but I think the lack of communication and the build up in the conflict, the escalation of the conflict, I think that eventually made that impossible and today many people, even the National Party would give half their riches to get back the possibilities of what could have been reached in 1961.
The point I'm making is, one shouldn't condemn the idea of separate development in total. The effect of the resistance that developed world-wide, and the effect of coupling the good points of separate development with the bad points of apartheid, I think that eventually destroyed what was good about the whole system, and that is what led eventually to a complete rejection by the National Party of what they have created themselves. (end of tape)
CHAIRPERSON: .....and that it will be making a - ask a question before Mr Mpshe goes on. Dr Boraine.
DR BORAINE: Thank you Chairperson. General Viljoen I'd like to begin by expressing my own appreciation for your presentation, not only the written but also the one that you have made today. I want to ask you a question against the background of your own clear private and public commitment to reconciliation in this country. I'd love to debate with you the analysis of history in this country but clearly I don't think this is opportune. I'd rather try to focus on what you, yourself suggested ought to be the main thrust and objective of the Commission, namely, reconciliation.
I think you are also right in saying that part of the problem is that there is no universal understanding, appreciation of a definition of what reconciliation is all about. The Act makes it very clear that we have certain tasks to fulfil in order that we may strive for national unity and reconciliation.
Now you have stated that you are representing the ethnic Afrikaner. You will appreciate that other parties, notably the National Party differ very strongly and would say that they represent the same group and perhaps a wider group. Now the question I want to ask, against the search for reconciliation in South Africa, who is included in the definition "ethnic Afrikaner" and who is excluded?
GEN VILJOEN: Chairperson thank you very much. I think we have to admit that there is within South Africa different communities. So do we have an Afrikaans-speaking community. I am a member of the Afrikaans-speaking community. I think Advocate Potgieter is also maybe a member of the Afrikaans-speaking community. Such a community is bound together by certain cultural aspects such as language, religion, way of life, value systems etc. The Afrikaner, the ethnic Afrikaner is part of the Afrikaans community. It falls within the circle, if you have to draw a circle around it, of the Afrikaans community.
But it is bound together within that circle by more factors, especially the factors of the historical involvement, bringing togetherness, a sense of togetherness, bringing a sense of nationhood, and this is the difference. And now when we say how do I define this in a new South Africa? I say I don't define it because an ethnic group, and that is the difference between a racial group and an ethnic group. A racial group is defined from outside. It is defined by physical criteria, such as the colour of your skin, origin etc. But an ethnic group is defined from within, not from outside. And in defining it from inside it uses criteria such as language, culture etc and the nationhood or the "volk" the 'peoples' actually get formed through the history. Having gone through a certain amount of trauma and having fought wars together and having accepted the common culture, language etc, people then form a group which I call the "ethnic Afrikaner".
So there is no need to accurately define this. There is no need to have election rolls for the ethnic Afrikaner. It is done voluntarily by the Afrikaners themselves. And that is what we have done in the previous election. It was decided that, seeing that Mr de Klerk refused us a referendum in February 1994, it was then decided between us and the ANC that the votes brought out for the Freedom Front, in the provincial vote of 1994 election will be counted. Those votes will be counted as if it was a referendum. That brought us to 640,000 votes. We can take it that those people voted for us on the basis of self-determination, which was our main drive in the election campaign. That represented just below 40% of all total registered Afrikaners. So those are the people, but I am not tying them with ropes. I say it can be free.
I don't see the boundary between Afrikaans-speaking and Afrikaners as a rigid boundary. People that would like to associate with the Afrikaner and accept the history of the Afrikaner and the culture of the Afrikaner he becomes that small group of Afrikaners, but he's still a part of the bigger group of Afrikaners.
DR BORAINE: Thank you very much. Just a brief follow-up, again it's such a wide subject one could spend an enormous amount of time but we don't have that time and my fellow commissioners would be very angry with me if I took this at great length because they obviously would have questions as well. So let me confine myself to this.
In terms of defining an ethnic group language of course is fundamental, it's very important and you yourself have stressed that very strongly. Religion is another criteria and a characteristic, culture, custom and so on. What I find difficult to understand, again on the basis of driving for national unity and reconciliation in South Africa, is that people who share your language as a first language, or who may even have great difficulty with any other language, who are members of the Dutch Reformed Church or one of its branches, who share a common heritage in terms of culture and food and the like but who coincidentally happen to be black or brown are, it seems to me, excluded from being an ethnic Afrikaner and therefore excluded from joining you and your colleagues in the search for national unity and reconciliation. You may say that that they can do but they can do it at a distance. There is an exclusivity which I think was part of our major difficulty in this country earlier which seems to be entrenched.
Could I ask the question quite pertinently, and I am really quite, quite genuine in this, I am not laying any traps, I just want to know, in the future as South Africa develops through our transition and as we strive for reconciliation and healing and national unity, do you see a time where you and your party could open its doors to all who wish to join, rather than on the basis of what you have outlined as excluding a very large group of people who share many, many values?
GEN VILJOEN: Thank you Chairperson. The questions are becoming tricky. (General laughter)
Chairperson no, I have given you a very clear idea. A political party receives a mandate from a number of people. The present situation of the Freedom Front is that we are trying to satisfy the demands of the Afrikaner people under the present circumstances which might last for five, ten years, I don't know how long and we as a party have often spoken about this and I think if I now expand, open up the doors I might get many more people to come and join me and maybe I will sit a bit further to the right in Parliament after the coming election, but this is not my task. My task is to first complete this task of caring for my people. And the moment I've completed that, yes then we can have a good look at it.
I want to say this, the problem that we are speaking about now is the problem of all countries in the world today. All the countries are battling with this idea of multiracial or pluralistic societies. And I see this very simply in the case of South Africa in the near future.
What we need in South Africa is an approach to say, there are people that would like to follow the individualistic democratic line, let them do so. There are people that would like to say, we want to be strongly Zulu orientated, we have a Zulu nationalism and we want to live according to the Zulu traditions, in our kingdom we want to be real Zulus and therefore we would like to have the kingdom of Zulus to be a sub area of KwaZulu Natal.
Can I quote another example to you. There might be the Venda people in the North, the Northern Province, if they really feel very strongly about maintaining their culture and about governing themselves they have a specific area, they might form within Vendaland a sub region of the Northern Province, and in some way get the okay or the authority to govern themselves as a community.
And thereby I am not trying to be divisive. All I say is some people are individually minded. Some people are collectively minded. And let us in South Africa make provision for all. Because do we eventually want? We want happy people and happy communities in South Africa and this is the way to peace. If we try to force individual liberalism then the collective democratic people will come up in arms. If you over-emphasise that part then the other people will come up.
But I am sure that democracy is such a flexible concept that you can, for the purpose of preventing conflict, you can find ways and means and we have studied the principle of self-determination and we are absolutely convinced that it has enough scope for application in South Africa for the whole of our problem as Afrikaner people.
I also think, and I make a forecast today, that we are not the only people that in future will be interested in self-determination. And this is where I see where my role as a political party can be. I've had discussions, for example, with the Griqua people, and I've found those Griqua people to feel the same as I do and they speak Afrikaans too, and those people would like to have a say on their own affairs. I think it is possible, but I, as a party, will be quite prepared to accept those people to follow the same line because our line, our basic line in the Freedom Front is that we should have self-determination. We are looking for a way in which we can fit into the new South Africa in, as I said, a way in which our value will be of use to ourselves and to the people of South Africa. So this is what we hope to achieve.
And I think, as I say, it's not different from the rest of the world. We have the worldwide accepted concept of self-determination, that's all we want to apply, but I have to first finish this. I am not power hungry. I don't want to try to jump to bigger support before I have done what I undertook to do for my electorate.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Dumisa Ntsebeza.
GEN VILJOEN: Can I just - Mr Mulder.
CHAIRPERSON: Excuse me, sorry.
MR MULDER: No problem Mr Chair. Chairperson if I could just add something. Dr Boraine asked the question in terms of national reconciliation and the whole question of national unity, in the end what do we understand in those terms. I think it's very important that we take note of a scientific that has just been completed by Professor Hennie Coetzee at the University of Stellenbosch, it was published by the Conrad Ardenhauer Foundation, and in that study, I think we should take note of that, of the respondents only 17% described themselves, how they see themselves as South Africans. I think we must take note of that reality. And if you ask the question in terms of how do you define an ethnic group then I think the reality is that it is not an objective test in terms of certain norms and criteria that are being laid down. It's a subjective test. It's in terms of how people see themselves, whether they associate, whether they want to be part of something, it's not objective it's a subjective thing and the responsibility lies with the individual, where he would like to be or not to be. That's the reality.
I think, if we speak in terms of national unity and where we would like to go it's no use to try and shy away in South Africa, and that's a political question of the reality of the ethnic diversity and we are a very plural society. And maybe we should take note of the new winds of change blowing in the continent of Africa, which comes from the east, from Ethiopia and the OAU, and the Scottish even further away, but on the reality where they are trying to address this question by saying, let's create a national consciousness on the reality of ethnic pluralism. I think if we go in terms of the political suggestion we might find a way that not only 17% of the people see themselves as South Africans but that might change in future.
CHAIRPERSON: Dr Boraine says he's got such a minute follow-up.
DR BORAINE: Thank you Chairperson. Dumisa Ntsebeza has allowed me to ask this, he will obviously ask his own question.
If you distinguish between objectivity and subjectivity then you create an even greater problem for me, and Advocate Potgieter must forgive me for referring to him but as you, Sir, referred - ja it's a democratic country, what if he subjectively would like to join your party?
GEN VILJOEN: I have made this public many times because I am often asked this question at public meetings. If Advocate Potgieter feels himself part of the Afrikaner nation, if he associates fully with the Afrikaner history in the South African context there is nothing to prevent him from becoming a member of the Freedom Front.
I would like to add that I have a quick test that I usually give to people in this way, and that is, if there is one thing in the Afrikaner history around which the Afrikaner mentality has rallied it is the Day of the Covenant, that day to us has really been building our nation, and for many, many, many years, every year we have spent at least one day, and this has certainly contributed towards our togetherness, and if I ask Advocate Potgieter do you accept responsibility in upholding the Day of the Covenant celebrations, and he says yes, then I say right, then you are fully fledged. That's a quick side test.
ADV POTGIETER: Sorry Mr Chairman, I thought you were going to ask me whether I can play rugby. (General laughter)
GEN VILJOEN: Yes, that also.
CHAIRPERSON: Dumisa Ntsebeza. I also have just a small -I appreciate very deeply your candour and I also am very deeply committed to the principle of self-determination, it is part of what drove us as well, and I have been very saddened in many ways that there has been so much insensitivity about Afrikaans which is one of the reasons why I wore a Springbok rugby jersey and said I would support the retention of a Springbok. I think I mean that it is very insensitive and in a way unnecessary for someone to say the name of this other province is going to be only it's English name. I think I mean that there is no necessity for - it's gratuitous. I appreciate what you have said about the insensitivity as it were of those who sought to force down the throats of others what they thought was good - you used the word here which you were looking for - trusteeship.
But I want to understand, we would like to understand in terms of the history, having characterised your people as you did, as religious, as caring and concerned and being so committed to self-determination, the corollary of that should have been that just as much as we Afrikaners, ethnic Afrikaners want to be able to determine for ourselves the things that we hold dear, so we must give space, allow space to others. Now you say that that in fact didn't happen in that way. It was unilateral decision. And I would like to understand why did it take, as it were, so long for such a people to support a party that was doing something that was quite in fact contrary to the principles of self- determination?
GEN VILJOEN: Chairperson this is a very good question and I have tried to refer to that often in my evaluation of the Just War principles in this situation. I have said that at least in three decades of conflict we should have had a few real good opportunities or chances or efforts to find each other and to stop the warring. I would like to say that I accused the NP for deviating from the original intention of the Afrikaner, which was not to govern over others but to govern over itself.
Then I would like to say Chairperson, that this had taken place already in the early eighties. In the early eighties already it was actually the conservative part of the Afrikaners that started to look for an alternative and the idea of the Volkstaat or the idea of self-determination was being developed from the 1980's onwards and we had people in such a, or organisations such as SABO(?), really working towards finding a new solution, a just one, admitting that the present situation in South Africa is unfair, and that we need to find a new situation.
But I have also accused the National Party for being power-hungry. And I think that the road that they have walked along this idea of power-sharing is a demonstration. They have started in 1983 with the idea of power-sharing in the tricameral parliament. They have in 1985 they have had a congress in which they decided South Africa is going to be one country, one citizenship etc, yet they organised the tricameral parliament in such a way that they would still retain the power. You see what I am saying that they were power-hungry. Already then there were some conservative people, not all of them I admit, but conservative people saying that there must be another solution, we are too greedy, we shouldn't accept the whole of South Africa, we should now consolidate into a smaller part of South Africa and find ways and means in which we can concentrate our people there and allow the rest of the country to carry on and we will participate with them economically and in the ways that the normal society of a diverse nature would operate. So already at that stage it had been started.
In 1992, when we had the referendum, it was only really after 1992 that the major part of the conservative Afrikaners, I am referring to the Conservative Party, had made the final decision to go for this idea.
But the concept of justness in South Africa, the concept of finding a place in South Africa for everybody, the concept of sharing the country in a way that the other people will have a bigger share, that has actually been part of the thinking of the conservative part of the Afrikaner.
And as I have said to you today I am not power-hungry. I have no intention to try tricks to expand my party. I am sticking to my basic principle of what I have been elected for, and if the situation changes, yes, then I can have another look at it. Or if I get other people such as I mentioned the Vendas, or whoever might come forward, the Griquas or people saying look here we want to join this idea of yours, then we will find ways of accommodating them, because we are not a party of apartheid Afrikaners, of exclusivistic approach towards the Afrikaners, we are a party for self-determination, and those people that were joined in this concept of self-determination we welcome to approach us and we will gladly work together with them.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. General Groenewald.
GEN GROENEWALD: Thank you Mr Chairman. I think the question you asked is a very important question and I don't think there is a very simple answer to this, but sometimes we must try and place ourselves and see the situation from a different perspective, and realise, as General Viljoen said earlier, that remember from Union, which was once again a forced Union, there was no referendum to decide on Union in 1910. It was two republics that were joined with two colonies. But from that time, until 1948, the Afrikaner was involved in a political struggle to once again be placed in the position where he could be his own master. And I will gladly admit that at that stage very little attention was paid to basically the interest and the welfare of Black people as such.
We should also remember that in 1948 when we realised what was happening in Africa, by that stage we had lost contact with Africa. We had, I believe, something like 40,000 Afrikaners in a country like Kenya. They came back with the legacy of the Mau Mau. This happened with all the countries that were decolonised and it was flowing back to South Africa. They painted a certain perspective of Africa. This perspective was very ably also underlined by press reports and by the press as such.
We should also remember that in 1948 only approximately, I would imagine, 12 to 15% of Black people lived in the cities and most of the Black people were miners who were also foreigners, who came from outside the borders of South Africa, and a policy like apartheid, separate development, was seen as an easy solution.
From then on basically the biggest problem we had was that apartheid had one effect and that was that peoples lost contact with each other. They did not speak to each other. If I think back the first time I in actual fact, although I grew up amongst the Zulus on the farm and knew the Zulus, the traditional Zulu very well, the first time I really went into a Black township I think was in 1986. How many White people ever, even today, have gone into a Black township.
I think a lot of what has happened should be seen from that point of view.
I would also like you to look at it from one very, very important perspective, and that is let us imagine that the Soviet Union did not, did not change its political situation, that they were still a super power under the control of a Marxist government. Let us just imagine that for a single situation. And if we can then place South Africa in that context, with the Soviet Union as the main supporter of the ANC, with the South African Communist Party, because it was the agent through which this support was channelled in a much stronger position, not with a view that communism is dead, would we still have had the same situation in South Africa?
Would the Truth and Reconciliation Commission not have been an entirely different question whatsoever?
Would the attitude of the present government have been the same?
This is the kind of perception which you must realise was pertained in South Africa, and quite often a Black radical politician was associated with Marxism, true or false. We counted the Marxists within the ANC National Executive. Why was it easy for government officials to speak to homeland leaders, because they were not seen as Marxist. They were not seen as Marxists and therefore they could communicate with them.
If we look at this kind of situation which developed historically then perhaps we can start understanding some of the things which happened or did not happen, which is perhaps more important. Thank you Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much General. Corki.
MR MPSHE: Thank you. This will be as a way of follow-up to General Viljoen's response to the Chairperson's question particularly about the Nationalist Party. My question is simply that General Viljoen you seem to be very critical of the National Party government for a number of reasons, are you not perhaps being too critical, that is putting too much distance between you and your supporters and the previous government? Are you not sort-of going all out to distance yourself from the deeds of the previous government?
GEN VILJOEN: Chairperson the differences between us and the National Party is really fundamental, are fundamental. We live in two different worlds. Our approaches are different. Our vision for the future also differs. We therefore, and I am sorry if I have created the impression that I have been harsh on them, that was not my intention because I don't want to create the impression that I want to use this place to do some NP bashing, but fundamentally we differ, we differed in what they've done in Kempton Park, not that they have changed, that we accept. We accept the fact that change in South Africa was necessary, but the way in which they changed. And the way in which they have not heeded to our warnings on what they are doing.
We reject them for the way in which they have turned their back on their own creations, us, Afrikaners ourselves, but also the homelands. As I've explained to you, there were some mistakes with the homeland policies, yes, let us accept them, but all was not bad about those policies. I don't see why we have to really feel so ashamed about this. I think we made basic mistakes mainly because of our failure to properly develop those areas. If there is something that we should feel sorry about in this country today it is the missed opportunities we have had in economic development, and that time that we have lost we will never catch up again.
So when I criticise the National Party I do so out of a fundamental point of view, and I have said in open, that I cannot see my way open to join their idea of one solid opposition, because I don't form a solid opposition for the sake of opposing, I form a political party for the sake of following a specific mandate, a specific basic approach. Politics or parties must be based on fundamental issues, such as ours of self-determination, such as ours of our approach towards the economic development in South Africa, but not for the sake of, let us all stand together to do some ANC bashing.
MR MPSHE: General still on that aspect, given what you've said and responding to my question as far as criticism is concerned, will I be correct or will I be incorrect if I state that I read from your response some form of denial of responsibility for what happened in the past government, will my assumption be correct? I get an impression of a shunning-away sort of thing.
GEN VILJOEN: No, this is certainly not. In fact I started off by saying that I can never isolate myself from the politics of the past although I've been a military man. I share the responsibility with P W Botha, and I am sure that he will share the responsibility with me. There's no doubt about it.
I think that the concept of taking apart politics and the military of the past is not really possible in South Africa. It has been a political war. In fact we have participated, from the Defence Force point of view, by even advising the government on political issues. When we met the Cabinet, the previous Cabinet, on four occasions, one of which I still have a document, 1982, we addressed the situation in South Africa and we then said, in fact we were counting the costs as I explained earlier on in my analysis of just war decision. We were counting the costs and we said to the government, we in the military are not going to win this battle, we will certainly prevent you from losing it, but the solution is not the military one, the solution is a political one.
And we then explained to them, we went into much more detail. We didn't prescribe to them as to what solution they should accept. But I remember saying to them that you have to be creative in thinking ways out in which you can also involve the rest of the country's population and make them happy in the dispensation for South Africa. Now I would never prescribe to them.
But the point I am making is maybe we were in a privileged position because as a military officer I have studied every insurgency war that you can mention, we've studied it, and we've listed all the lessons from those wars, and we have tried to convince the past political masters about these lessons, but there was a sterility within the ANC that we could not beat. And maybe, maybe we are part of the guilt because we were too strong and they were depending indefinitely on the military power that we had, but we had consistently told them it is time for you to find ways out of this impasse. We have to find a solution.
DR BORAINE: Mr Ntsebeza.
MR NTSEBEZA: General mine is just a very small request. You have referred to this document which you made all these advices to government, is it possible for us to get a copy thereof?
GEN VILJOEN: Chairperson yes, I have the document, I don't have it here, it is marked "Secret". I am not sure whether I am bound by my oath to keep "secret" secret, and I will just have to make sure as to whether it will be possible. Recently I had a discussion with Mr P W Botha and he said to me look here, you must not allow the Defence Force to get all the bashing, the politicians must also carry the responsibility and that document, why don't you pass it on. But now as I say it is secret and I have to stick according to my undertakings, but I will certainly find out and see whether I can make that available to you.
DR BORAINE: Thank you very much.
MR MPSHE: General let us move on to what you call the abuse of power that is found on page 13, the last paragraph of your document. Now on the abuse of arbitrary powers during the state of emergency in your response you make the following statement which requires some form of clarification and I will quote:
"In many cases the counter-revolutionary strategy made provision for security and administrative special powers with little or no link to the political perspective underlying the conflict. This political resistance to change was at the root of the evil".
In this can not the same be said of your party and perhaps the alliances then when the World Trade Centre was forcefully entered into, and making reference again to the Mmabatho situation as it then happened in 1994, that it is the same as you have quoted here that you also did in that in the World Trade Centre negotiations were taking place to effect a political change, and if I may use the word, the "storming" of the World Trade Centre was then counter that change, wouldn't you be in a position to accept that allusion to yourself?
GEN VILJOEN: I would just like to recall the specific incident. That was a planned demonstration to bring to the attention of the negotiators and the international world the demands of the Afrikaner for self-determination. This took place on the 25th of June 1993, and the intention was to go to the Trade Centre in great numbers, to hand over basic documents where the negotiators were requested to take care of this specific urge for freedom amongst the Afrikaner people.
Unfortunately the AWB, which was part of the Volksfront at that stage, and it was not my party, it was still in the Volksfront days, the AWB then got out of hand. I cannot explain why this happened, in the same way as I cannot explain why in the 11th of March 1994 in Mmabatho they disobeyed a legal order. They got out of hand and they did not obey my orders, where all the other people, all the farmers and so on that were present, they obeyed my orders.
So you must not, you must please not credit us with the acts of storming the World Trade Centre. This is certainly not the character of decency which we are trying to maintain in the Freedom Front political approach. We don't believe in that. We don't think that it is on.
Now you've referred to the fact of resistance of change and you've asked me whether this is not the same with my party. I think we have accepted the change, I've already said so. When we accepted the change we did so in a deliberate and considerate way by considering the need for an accord. And we have completed the accord before the election and that has assisted us from moving through the election, but we have not given up our drive for self-determination.
The only thing that happened is we agreed that this is a complicated issue, it has to be addressed, it will be addressed in a way, in line with democracy and not contrary to the democratic principles, and that it will have to be negotiated. Because self-determination, if it has to be a conflict-preventing measure is something that you cannot claim for yourself and do it the way you want to. You have to argue your case, you have to convince the other parties in the country about self-determination and then you have to implement something which is generally mutually acceptable.
Can I quote an example. When we discussed this in the constitution-making process it took a long time, two years, but eventually when we came to the final constitution we had unanimous agreement of all the political parties within the constituent assembly. And this was a victory for the process that we have gone through so far, and if I can help it, if I can give a contribution, I would like to see that when we come to the final implementation of self-determination that it will be done in the same way, completely acceptable to all the people of South Africa. And this is my duty and my party's duty and that is what we are trying to. Because if we don't do that then the party will become rejectable in the new South Africa and there will be conflict and there will not be peace and prosperity will only be a hope.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Mpshe are you continuing this line because there is just one little point, I don't know whether you are going to refer to it, in relation to the two incidents. Maybe let me just ask General Viljoen.
In the submission which is your answer to questions of the 6th of February 1997, you have got that, page 20 and page 21, it's a reference to both the incidents that Advocate Mpshe has referred to and you gave a response to, the World Trade Centre incident and the Mmabatho incident. In your reply perhaps I should quote what you say in paragraph D on page 20 the second last sentence:
"This unplanned action...."
referring to the AWB forced entry,
"...was the first of virtually every action which we undertook which in some way ended with an opposite result as was planned".
And you then go on to say,
"I maintain, and will summarise later, that through third force activities of the intelligence agencies of the de Klerk government our planned actions were deliberately derailed to discredit our course".
And on page 21, section F, paragraph 2, the third sentence, the fourth line.
"From the circumstances of this occasion...."
the occasion of the Mmabatho invasion,
"....I maintain that the action of the AWB was through third force activity from the de Klerk government".
Now you may be aware that we had a fairly extensive discussion debate here before the Commission with regard to this elusive third force. We were told in two submissions, one by General Malan, and then by Mr de Klerk, the third force that was discussed by the State Security Council was really a uniformed, envisaged a uniformed group that would be between the police and the army. But the questions that most of us were saying when we use third force was to be referring to a sinister group which we thought seemed to explain some of what was happening in this country.
You have used it in the second sense, is it possible for you to enlighten us further on what you know about this from your previous existence?
Excuse me, Denzil Potgieter wants to add something.
ADV POTGIETER: Thank you Chairperson. General just before you answer, could I also refer you to page 12 of that same first submission, the second paragraph on that page, there's a further reference. You say,
"The suggested third force involvement in Black-on-Black violence to me is most distressing. It seems to have happened".
Would you take that on board as well if you respond to the Chairperson's question?
GEN VILJOEN: Chairperson I think we're talking of two concepts. My reference to a third force when I say the AWB action, I would rather say I should have used the word "agents". I have no knowledge, in my time there was certainly not a consideration for a third force as General Malan explained it when he was here. That was about 1986 and I retired in 1985. So on that part of the third force I cannot give you any explanation. What I can do is to elaborate a bit on the issue which I have raised, the possibility.
The problem is we had a dirty war, and the revolutionary war is about what goes on in the minds of people, and it would be very easy to, through agents, create certain situations where people are easy to manipulate, such as the AWB, to create situations where you actually use the people themselves to discredit their own objectives or their own cause.
I have spoken on this issue to General Johan van der Merwe and I have confronted him and he has given me the assurance that they did infiltrate the ANC, not the ANC, the AWB from the point of intelligence. He said to me it was very easy to get information out of the AWB, and he explained to me how they went about this too, but he actually denied the existence of agents that would wilfully manipulate the actions of such an organisation as the AWB to reach the opposite of what they really had in mind. However there were some other intelligence agencies which I have not approached in this regard.
What I say is unbelievable to see how well we have planned the World Trade Centre, and how we have even in the morning come together to have another coordinating conference, and I and my generals having been in the Defence Force we can do proper detailed planning. And then at the very crucial moment that armoured car with AWB just came storming past. Where did the armoured car come from? Who arranged for it to be there? Who arranged for that specific moment to break the glass and go in? To me it's just fishy. And at that stage I was worried.
But then later on when we came to the issue of Mmabatho the very same thing happened. What had eventually happened at Mmabatho was exactly the opposite of what we had in mind. We sent a lot of people in order to reinforce the forces of President Mangope for the sake of maintaining peace, not for the sake of creating chaos. And we deliberately, on the request of Mr Mangope, we prohibited Mr Terreblanche and his people to come to Mmabatho. And I did so, not through my own authority, but through the authority of Dr Hartzenberg who was the Chairperson of the Volksfront Raad.
So that night when I was contacted and I was told that the AWB is moving in I asked the Bophuthatswana Defence Force to send messages, to send liaison officers and to tell them that it's a message from me they must not enter the area, and yet they entered the area. Now, eventually, they destroyed the whole cause for which we went there, and they actually made fools of us in what we were trying to achieve.
So if you now think about the AWB knowing about this with agents of, let us say the security police within the AWB or national intelligence, getting to know of what was taking place because Terreblanche knew about this because he was a member of the Volksfront Uitvoerende Raad. So it is the easiest thing in the world to plant a few agents there, or to have a few people, permanent members, and give them instructions, make sure that you do this, start shooting and create chaos so that the Volksfront would not succeed with what they are busy doing.
So unfortunately I have no evidence to prove this, and maybe I am even prepared to say I might be irresponsible, but to me it is so logical that I really suspect that this would be the case. So my term third force here actually refers to agents placed in an organisation to manipulate the actions of that organisation. That Chairperson is what I referred to earlier on when I said we had a dirty war. This is the dirty part of this kind of war.
And if you take the objectives of such things as, for example, armed propaganda, the very same thing could be, because remember when I started off I said the revolutionary war is about what goes on in the minds of people, so anything you can do to influence the thinking of the minds of people in a certain direction might be of value to you as a liberation force or as a defence force. And the pity about this is eventually it destroyed our efforts and it had caused us a lot of embarrassment.
CHAIRPERSON: Denzil Potgieter. Thank you General.
ADV POTGIETER: Thank you Chairperson. General can I just come back to the Black-on-Black aspect and the section that I've highlighted on page 12, what sort of third force do you have in mind in that respect in the Black-on-Black violence situation?
GEN VILJOEN: I think the same kind of action. The word third force became a sort-of name given to clandestine operations carried out by people pretending to belong to the other group by doing certain actions. I think it has been testified in front of the Amnesty Commission that there were even necklacing cases where it was actually traced back to some security force action. I think this is the kind of thing that can happen.
I think discrediting where you really go for the hearts and minds of the people is a very powerful weapon and that is why I say revolutionary warfare and terrorism and this kind of dishonest way of operating to me makes this war worse than, or at least on the same level as nuclear war.
It's completely unacceptable.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Dumisa Ntsebeza.
MR NTSEBEZA: General would this discrediting also take the form of what I put to Gen Magnus Malan, namely where units or soldiers would blacken their faces to create the impression that they were SWAPO operatives in order to discredit Swapo in any of the things that they had done? Would that be for instance, part of this whole elaborate scheme of discrediting your enemy?
GEN VILJOEN: I would just like to point out Chairperson, that the blackening of faces in the military operation is
actually a part of camouflage and it is done quite often, especially when people operate at night time and if they have a fair complexion, a white skin then they blacken their faces so that it doesn't show up in the light of the moon and so on, so the blackening of faces is not really - but what you say is a possibility. I don't know about this but it is certainly a possibility. Because remember what I said, discrediting in this kind of war is a powerful weapon and if you can do certain actions to discredit a certain group in the face of the enemy, I think it's also possible that it could have been done from the liberation side. It probably was done from the liberation side too, so discrediting is a weapon and this is why I say it's an unacceptable form of war.
MR NTSEBEZA: There wouldn't be much to blacken there among SWAPO members, there wouldn't really be much to blacken, but I take your point. (General laughter)
GEN VILJOEN: But all SWAPO members were not Black.
MR NTSEBEZA: Yes Lebowski wasn't.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I realise there seem to be some benefits in a dark complexion. (General laughter)
ADV MPSHE: General having given the similarity between the third force as you understand it and the third force as explained by other people, now given your experience, particularly in 1994, the occurrence in 1994, wouldn't you now say that because of this experience you've reached a stage where you believe that the third force other than the one that you understand, did exist.
GEN VILJOEN: No I have no reason to say that I can bring proof or even have a firm idea that this form does exist. I'm sure from what I've heard from Gen Malan and from what I've spoken to the people, it never materialised, and Gen Malan has said that it was considered by the previous State Security Council in '86, but eventually the decision was against it. I give my assurance to this Commission that I do not know of any such force that exists.
ADV MPSHE: Can we then move to the well-planned campaign as explained by yourself and I'll just quote briefly what you said thereon. And before doing that may I take this opportunity to thank you for the detailed response to this question of the well-planned campaign of resistance and mass action, but still having said that we would still like to have some clarification on these issues. On page 19, paragraph 2, you refer to the four retired generals forming a directorate to provide strategic guidance to the Volksfront. Now my question is, why were these retired generals involved, does this not show that right at the initial stages there was that intent towards violence?
GEN VILJOEN: Chairperson at that stage, as I've explained, the more conservative Afrikaner and most of the farmers belonged to this grouping, had lost all confidence in the National Party and in fact in political leaders of the Government at that stage. That being so, when we had a big meeting in Potchefstroom, and that has dealt with in this, I had to say a few words on the issue of the ongoing violence and the many murders that took place on farmers, and I made a point saying that I think Mr de Klerk is making a mistake by just accepting that the process is free and fair and that the ANC through mass action is probably intimidating or influencing this negotiation process. And we also had a meeting of Afrikaner organisations, and in that meeting Afrikaner organisations the specific point was made that there is no longer confidence in the political leadership that has brought the Afrikaners to where they were.
And then they said, won't you generals, originally we were six but then only four accepted, won't you generals come in, you know this kind of war, you've been at it, and give us strategic guidance. And this is the way the four generals became involved in this. Now the question as to whether this is not indicative of a war. For the layman, yes it might look like this, but as I explained earlier on, we've made a study of this kind of war and we know that this kind of war has a military or a violent side but it also has some very important political, psychological and economical sides, and we also used to say that in this kind of war the military side, the violent side can only be about 20% and what we actually say is, far far more important than the military side is the other side.
And our knowledge in this regard then convinced us that we should start with the strategic exercise for the Afrikaner people. When I say strategic, I do not say military strategic, I say strategic in the total sense and then we planned, how do we start up the Afrikaner people, how do we get their emotions going and how do we get the cause known and how do we sell the idea of self determination and how do we negotiate this? Negotiation is part of the strategy and how do we apply a little bit more force and that's the way we started using our force etc.
So this is the idea of strategic guidance. In fact if it hadn't been for the knowledge of the strategic importance of the other points of this kind of this kind of war, we might have fallen into the trap of going for a military solution because part of our considerations in this very difficult decision, part of the consideration was the fact that we could win militarily, we had all the might in the world, but the big South Africa had lost because of political resistance to change because of economic isolation, because of psychological collapse and now we were considering with a small group of Afrikaners to start a military operation, and unless we could be sure about the backing of the political, the psychological and the economic actions it might have been foolish to go for this, so that is the way we eventually and maybe that is the knowledge of this kind of war that enabled us to follow the road which I have explained at the beginning of my presentation before I came to dealing with the past.
ADV MPSHE: General does that explanation you have just given, the strategic planning and whatever it takes, does it take care of what you said on page 22, paragraph H of your submission, and I'll just quote where you say,
This created an impression inside our community and also at national level that a war was being planned.
Does your explanation take care of this as well?
GEN VILJOEN: Yes very much so, in fact there is no doubt that the part of the more conservative support group of the Afrikaner Volksfront, because of the mere fact that we were generals, expected the generals to make the war. In fact many of them told us that look here, leave the politics alone and leave the negotiations alone now and get on with the job of making the war. But they were uninformed people of this kind of war and fortunately we've had the experience to guide them away from this dangerous attitude.
ADV MPSHE: The questions that follow are not intended at all to be requesting you to table with the Truth Commission the balance sheet of your party but it's just to enable us to know the workings of your party. If a different meaning is inferred from my questions, my apology in advance.
My question is, how was this mass-action campaign being funded? How was it funded?
GEN VILJOEN: The mass action campaign that you now refer to was not my Freedom Front Party, it was in the days of the Afrikaner Volksfront. Part of our strategy was, as I say, to waken up the Afrikaner as to the threat being developed, developing against him. We had many meetings, a few hundred meetings countrywide and in those meetings we had told the Afrikaner that this is a new organisation that we've created and the Afrikaner became so enthusiastic about this that they contributed considerably in this regard. But we were never rich and we never had a lot of money to play around with, we had no outside sponsors, for example from international sources or from big business within South Africa. It all came from the supporters of the Volksfront themselves.
ADV MPSHE: General I want to ask if the funding that you got in this mass campaign ever, at any stage, included, with respect to you again, stolen funds as it was orchestrated then? I may hasten to mention to you that this information comes from an amnesty application by one of your members, but allow me to refuse to disclose the name as you know the parameters of our operations. Would you say you didn't have some kind of stolen money that had to fund this?
GEN VILJOEN: I would easier say yes to the question about stolen arms and stolen explosives and so on, but certainly not for stolen money. No, I know of no such - it was certainly not part of our directive. The point I want to make is this is completely foreign to the make-up of the Afrikaner people. We will suffer but I don't think we will steal money for the purpose of this.
ADV MPSHE: So if it emerges.
CHAIRPERSON: General Groenewald.
GEN GROENEWALD: Could I just perhaps add that the cost of the mass action campaign was very low. None of the members, for example the four generals, received any salaries. None of the officials received any salaries. There was basically the offices that had to be paid for and a bit of advertising.
I would also like to stress that membership paid R10,00 to be a member and I know at one stage we had at least 100,000 members, so this is basically what funded, ja, the whole campaign. Oh I might add there was one fund, Pieter Neethling Fonds, from which we received R40 000.
GEN VILJOEN: Maybe I can just add to this that the good about the Volksfront was the enthusiasm of the people. We never told them that there would be a war. I think many expected this to eventually end in a war. I have an idea that they probably saw this developing in the same direction as the Anglo-Boer War and many of them you know would see us mounting horses you know with biltong and rusks in the knapsack and off we go to war.
But I have consistently reserved the right to decide on violent action myself and I did so because we, few generals, were the only people that really had enough knowledge about the effects of war, especially within the revolutionary climate that at that stage existed in our country. We were the only people that really could judge this and therefore we reserved the right. So the decisions to go for war or to go for violent action all came from me.
Can I just explain one thing very well. You must not confuse the Volksfront with the Freedom Front. Do you know the difference?
ADV MPSHE: Yes General I do.
GEN VILJOEN: Right, thank you.
ADV MPSHE: Perhaps on a final note General, as you stated in your submission, you know when you made mention of having been tired of negotiations and when you decided now to take the stick that was also oraclely used by the other liberation movements, I'm on that part, that is on page 22. Are you perhaps in a position to provide us with more detailed information on the planned use of the force by the Volksfront, you know that popular stick, if it was popular?
GEN VILJOEN: Ja I will quickly do this, it's a long subject. I want to say that you must bear in mind that we had very little time. Remember the referendum was in 1992. I was only summoned to come to the assistance of the Afrikaners in March 1993, and I was not trained for this kind of thing. This was completely new to me too. I was called from behind the cows, and saddled with the idea of negotiation of a constitutional affairs - I was not as trained as my colleague next to me on constitutional law and we had to quickly come in. And the four generals decided on strategies, including the stick strategy. Whether we were going to use the stick is not really important. If we had to then it was available. But you had to have the stick, because I always tell the story of the wolf and the lamb. The lamb arguing with the wolf and being rather cheeky and then the wolf killed the lamb, and the lesson behind this
is if you were in a lamb position you don't argue with the wolf without a stick. Now this is the point. We Afrikaners could not argue without a stick and we were arguing because we were also negotiating.
The ANC is a good example of this. The ANC could swing the whole situation by going into mass action, and they did. When they left CODESA situation because of dissatisfaction they went out and they went for mass action, and they forced the National Party into certain concessions after that. This is what I call a stick. So we had to develop a stick too, it was not as big as the ANC's stick but it was an important stick.
Now how did we develop this. We had voluntarily workers working through the whole of South Africa, covering the whole of South Africa working for months without a stop, leaving all their private businesses alone, organising a possible rise of the assistance that we could need for this kind of thing. This is how we operated. And it is these people for which I felt very sorry having to make the decision not to make war, but it was a complete collapse to their enthusiasm, but I had to make that decision because, as I said, in making such a decision you can't be emotional. You have to clinically look at all the facts and you have to make the right decision.
In making that decision I also considered the Anglo-Boer War and I weighed up the devastation of that war compared to what was achieved, and I weighed up the effects that that war had on the Afrikaner people. Amongst others the 26,000 women and children that we have lost. And I realised that if we had gone for this kind of war in South Africa the destruction could have been worse than the Anglo Boer War. And I am very happy to say I think the alternative will work. I just hope that we can speed it up a bit.
ADV MPSHE: The questions that I am going to ask are now just to elicit some advice and commentary from you. Your submissions focus our attention on the role of English South Africans in the conflicts of the past, e.g. the dominance of the economy, their even greater sense of superiority than Afrikaners in relation to the people of Africa, that is on page 7. Up till now there has been a lot of silence around the role and responsibility of this section of the White population in the work of the TRC. Do you perhaps any suggestions for us how this silence may be addressed, the silence of the White population?
GEN VILJOEN: I see no sinister meaning in this. I see this as a result of different cultural approaches to this point. It just demonstrates how far the cultures are apart. The White people, including the English people, have a different culture. To them the proceedings of this Commission is not as appealing as to, for example, the Black population having suffered through the victims. Even the victims of the White people do not go through the same emotional experience. I think it is just a matter of difference of culture.
Can I say also, that let's be frank. The image of the Commission is not good enough at the moment, the image of the Commission is not acceptable to many of these people at the moment, as I have referred to in my presentation too. I am not criticising the Commission, I am just saying, that in a way we are seen to have lost the idea of reconciling also that part. A lot has been done for the reconciliation of the other part, but little has been done for the reconciliation of this part, because the methods applied by the Commission suits the one part of the culture, but it does not suit the other part of the culture.
CHAIRPERSON: Dr Boraine.
DR BORAINE: General Viljoen I wonder if you would care to comment on a statement that I am going to make now, and I say it as a so-called English-speaking South African, whatever that may mean. It is my view that a large part of the English-speaking White South Africans have excluded themselves from the work of this Commission because they think, as some other groups think, that their hands are clean. That a great deal of supposed opposition to apartheid was also anti-Afrikaner, and that it was the liberation forces who were resisting and caused so much trouble, it was the Afrikaner government, the National Party which was the antagonist in terms of its policies and practices and therefore the English-speaking White South African community can argue that they were not part of that and that they opposed both.
You've heard it from one particular political party many times, which suggests that business, the economy, the professions, the English-speaking community simply don't have anything to be ashamed of or admit to or own up to or confess, and therefore the Commission really is very interesting and they listen with horror and whatever else, but it doesn't really touch them. I mean that certainly is a view and I wonder how you see that.
GEN VILJOEN: Chairperson I think basically I agree. I think that the English-speaking part of the population is probably standing back saying we have not been part of this fight, we have not been guilty, maybe they think their hands are clean, it's possible, but you know I think had the Commission followed the specific line of reconciliation and had more been done by the Commission towards active steps to find reconciliation, maybe the English-speaking community would then have been more eager to come in. But I think you are right, they probably see themselves as not part of this dirty battle.
In fact as I say this is not quite correct, because they were the more wealthy people. The Afrikaners are the more poor element of the Whites, and they have, for a long period, benefitted from the apartheid system, I'm referring to labour, cheap labour and so on, possible. But I don't want to speak for the English community, I think they should speak for themselves, but this is my perception too. I think the English community is a very important community, and they certainly should, in a way, associate themselves. There are many English-speaking people associating themselves with the Afrikaners, especially from the rural areas and we welcome those people, but they sort of fit in completely with us. But agreed, the big business, the English-speaking big business people, they seem to carry on with their business and make money and leave the rest of the country to whoever wishes to govern. But I agree, there is a problem, I share your sentiments. That's all I can say.
DR BORAINE: Thank you.
ADV MPSHE: Thank you Mr Chairman. This is the end of our questions.
GEN GROENEWALD: Can I perhaps add something to the last point Mr Chairman?
CHAIRPERSON: Yes General Groenewald.
GEN GROENEWALD: I think amongst all peoples you cannot generalise first of all. But I think what we should remember is that the so-called anti-insurgency warfare conducted in South Africa goes back not only a long way in South Africa but also in neighbouring states. You will remember that when the South African government supported the Rhodesian Regime it was South African policemen that were sent over, not South African Defence Force people. And a lot of the methods and tactics which they subsequently used in South Africa basically comes from the experiences they picked up in countries like Rhodesia. That can of course be fed back to countries like Malaya and so on and so forth, and I think that's an aspect which you should just take into consideration.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I just want to express again our appreciation that you were present here and that you gave this testimony in the open-hearted manner in which you did that.
We think that your contribution is as vital now as it was in 1994, because from what you say, and I can confirm it from other sources from which I have heard much the same thing, that it was largely because of the sorts of things that you are saying this morning that we were not overwhelmed by a bloodbath if your people had maybe disobeyed you and gone the other route. We would want to say a very big thank you for that and your continued positive contributions to the efforts for re-establishing the rule of law and to ensure that democracy is not just a passing phase in our country, but that it is something that is going to be entrenched and remains something that is going to be a precious possession for all of us.
I would want to say, though, that we are very mindful of the responsibility that we have to hold two things in balance, the search for truth and working for reconciliation and want to point out that people must not believe that the Commission, it would be very presumptuous if we ever thought so ourselves, but this Commission is going to, at the end of its life, have effected reconciliation. Reconciliation is a national project. Every South African who loves this country must know that this is something to which they must be committed, for which they must work, that the Commission can make but a small contribution to this process of healing. I believe we have done so, or God has used what has happened in this Commission to very good effect.
It isn't anything that we can usually publicise, but the Committee to which Glenda Wildschut belongs, originally was looking at victims of gross human rights violations. They have recently discovered that there is another kind of victim for which originally there didn't seem to be any provision, and this is the families of perpetrators. Many of the perpetrators who have come for amnesty are White, Afrikaner. Now if this Commission was one that said we did not care about the healing of all people we would say that is not our responsibility, but more than this is, together with churches and other faith communities efforts are being made for bringing people together. You spoke about the lack of communication. Some perpetrators, well the most obvious will be Brian Mitchell, but there are others of whom we will not certainly divulge the names, who have asked that we facilitate a meeting between themselves and the families of those, for instance, that they have murdered.
So we are engaging in that process, knowing in fact that if we hadn't got the thing of the truth the reconciliation we would be dealing with would be a false reconciliation. It would be a cheap reconciliation. It is painful to face up to the past, but if we were not to do so we would certainly be victimising the victims a second time round, by saying that what you suffered is of no consequence.
Again another example, because we were able to find out that people were murdered secretly and buried secretly, those exhumations and consequent reburials have actually gone a long way to healing a very deep hurt in the families of those who had disappeared.
I am not seeking to justify. I appreciate very, very much, we appreciate, all of us, very, very much the comments that you make because we recognise them as being made by someone who seeks to be making themselves a positive contribution to this whole process of healing. And so I want to say thank you very much.
May I also say thank you to Mr Mpshe for leading us in the manner that he has done.
Thank you to the Interpreters.
Thank you to my fellow panellists.
Thank you to you who have come and supported us.
Thank you to the media who help to publicise what is taking place here.
Thank you to my colleagues on the staff of the Commission who will ensure that we can have a bit of lunch if you wish to come along with us after this session. Please stand.
DR BORAINE CLOSES THE HEARING WITH A PRAYER