South Africa 1980's: Tambo vs Mandela?

Dec 2012
3
South Africa
#1
Hi all,

I am a new member but have been looking at the different topics for some time now.

I am very impressed by the amount of knowledge displayed by the members here. I like to see the different discussions and the comments.

I would like to hear some comments on a topic I have been thinking about.

PS: I am in South Africa.

I have written a book (waiting to get published) on a hypothetical nuclear war in Southern Africa in the 1980's.

This thread might be a topic for "what if" but it is less "what if" than a fair evaluation of current SA politics.

My thread:
One of the things the NP government was rather good at was divide and rule.

PW Botha, despite all his faults" was probably more realistic than most. He could see that apartheid was coming to an end, but I don't think he really grasped how to get it killed off.

FW de Klerk was a member of the security council and must have been deeply involved in signing off on different "actions", like the killing of Dave Webster, etc.

If PW Botha's goal was to prolong apartheid or if he just wanted to diminish ANC's influence, I think there was one option open to him:

Let Mandela out in 1985! Just liek that. Let him out, tell him to go home, tell him to do wahtever he woud liek to do, But deny him a passport!

Tambo sitting in London and Lusaka and Mandela in JoBurg would have created two centres of power.

Would Tambo just have handed over to Mandela? Would Mandela have demanded the presidency of ANC? Would we have seen more conflicts between the "exiles" and the one's who never left SA?

Could ANC have fractured in late 1980's? Would we still have had the elction in 1994? or later or earlier?

Would SA have experienced some sort of civil war between factions of ANC?

Was it a realistic option for PW Botha?

Ivan

PS: Please go easy on it. It is my first post!
 
Nov 2011
8,865
The Dustbin, formerly, Garden of England
#2
The premise all rather depends of the nature of Mandela’s release. Niel Barnard initiated talks with NM as early as 1981 and arms-length discussions through third parties took place with the ANC in Lusaka took place sponsored by Tiny Rowland and other business leaders throughout the 1980s, eventually leading to the conference hosted by Mike Young of Consolidated Goldfields in London. NM was offered immediate release in 1985 by PW personally if he “publically renounced violence”, but PW did not agree at the time to unban the ANC and NM turned the offer down.

The offer was not particularly secret, the saloon bar joke at the time was that he should be released, given a bus ticket to Umtata and then arrested for pass offence.

Oliver Tambo was quite happy to immediately relinquish the Presidency to NM in 1991, however, had NM not had freedom of action and had the ANC remained banned and NM prevented from going into exile, giving up the Presidency would have made no point.
By 1991, Tambo was suffering from advanced dementia in any case and was a busted flush; how long he had been in that condition is anyone’s guess, but from the early 1980s it was Thabo Mbeki who was the driving force in negotiations with the regime.

Where there may have been a power struggle was between the SACP component of the ANC in Lusaka and the “elder statesmen”. In the real world the business community ( not the Afrikaaner Nationalists) did actually manage to divide and rule. The old guard of the ANC and most of the serious players in the SACP were persuaded to give up revolution and ideology in order to make a shitload of money for their own pockets. Since the 1990s we have seen that the greediest bastards, like Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale, Jacob Zuma, Joe Modise were all part of the most radical wing of the SACP and MK, yet could not wait to get their trotters in the trough. (Let’s not forget Winnie, either).

If we go back to the early 1980s and, say Mandela and died, been eliminated or “turned” by being released and persuaded to join a “de-fanged”, non-violent, black political structure on the lines of the IFP or any of the Homeland stooge parties, that would surely have created a split. Had NM actually done such he thing he would probably have been assassinated and the SACP extremists like Kasrils and Hani would have become the driving force, perhaps keener to involve the Cubans directly in their activities..

On a historical note, I am not sure that de Klerk was aware of the CCBs activities were as it was more or less shown in the TRC that the organization was operating very much outside of government control. If anyone in authority actually signed off on the “hits” it was Magnus Malan ( who got off scot-free) and Adriaan Vlok. Mind you, so many documents were shredded in 1994 that we will never know.
 
Dec 2012
3
South Africa
#3
That is a very powerful analysis. Thanks for responding.

We should not overlook SACP in this. Would Hani have been a more moderate influence towards the end? how did he actually view Mbeki and Mandela for that matter? Rumours have it that Joe Modise had him killed insofar as Modise was going to be questioned about the $5 million which had "evaporated" (meant for weapon purchases).

... and if PW actively encouraged Mandela to campaign? a warm embrace from PW might be more problematic than a prison term for Mandela.

FW's denials have always sounded a bit hollow to me, though. Wasn't he perceived as a hawk in the 80's? FW and PW were after all called the "two bald eagles"

Ivan
 
Mar 2012
1,579
Following the breeze
#4
Hi all,

I am a new member but have been looking at the different topics for some time now.

I am very impressed by the amount of knowledge displayed by the members here. I like to see the different discussions and the comments.

I would like to hear some comments on a topic I have been thinking about.

PS: I am in South Africa.

I have written a book (waiting to get published) on a hypothetical nuclear war in Southern Africa in the 1980's.

This thread might be a topic for "what if" but it is less "what if" than a fair evaluation of current SA politics.

My thread:
One of the things the NP government was rather good at was divide and rule.

PW Botha, despite all his faults" was probably more realistic than most. He could see that apartheid was coming to an end, but I don't think he really grasped how to get it killed off.

FW de Klerk was a member of the security council and must have been deeply involved in signing off on different "actions", like the killing of Dave Webster, etc.

If PW Botha's goal was to prolong apartheid or if he just wanted to diminish ANC's influence, I think there was one option open to him:

Let Mandela out in 1985! Just liek that. Let him out, tell him to go home, tell him to do wahtever he woud liek to do, But deny him a passport!

Tambo sitting in London and Lusaka and Mandela in JoBurg would have created two centres of power.

Would Tambo just have handed over to Mandela? Would Mandela have demanded the presidency of ANC? Would we have seen more conflicts between the "exiles" and the one's who never left SA?

Could ANC have fractured in late 1980's? Would we still have had the elction in 1994? or later or earlier?

Would SA have experienced some sort of civil war between factions of ANC?

Was it a realistic option for PW Botha?

Ivan

PS: Please go easy on it. It is my first post!
There is also another problem here, by 1985 Apartheid was already well on its way to its demise. One way or the other, Apartheid was going to end. The best case possible at this point was to begin negotiating for a peaceful end to Apartheid. Had any other path been taken, we would have seen a much more bloody end to Apartheid, as compared to the one that was taken. I would even say that the whole "civil-war" scenario that everyone feared back then, might have actually been played out...