The Presidential Years

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Another thing that Madiba thought should be done, he had gone out of his way to meet all the former bantustan leaders one at a time - they weren’t met collectively, though I have seen people say that. We travelled to Transkei, we met the kings on both sides of the river, the Ciskei and the Transkei. We met Bantu Holomisa. We met the Sigcau family, we met Matanzima, in that part of the world. We met Oupa Gqozo as well. We met Mangope. We went up north we met King James, we met the QwaQwa leader, and we met with Mpofu, one of the leaders in the North. We met Enos Mabuza in Gazankulu.

He had gone out of his way because he said that one of the first things that needed to be achieved was that the new government had to rescind all laws that separated the country into separate geographic areas.


So the planning cycles were about two weeks before and two weeks after the election. It was real hard planning to do. He also met all the chiefs of the intelligence and the army. He met General Meiring and a General Brown from the police, and he met Magnus Malan. This was after the election. He said that they had to hand over decently. He wanted to know the strength of the army; what is in the intelligence apparatus; who were the people there? Clearly he had an idea that things had to be changed, and he said so. He took a great interest in those elements: police, army, the justice department and. I think that came not only from his background as a lawyer but his experience as a prisoner, things that he had experienced that went wrong for him, the actual issues about justice.

There were endless meetings. He went to a synagogue, to thank them. He had also gone to a mosque and to several churches to say thank you, all in Cape Town. He had to go and say thank you, he thought that was very important. That was his characteristic strength, that if you had gone to someone to ask them to assist you, the right thing to do afterwards was to go and say, thank you. Now remember he got into a lot of trouble because he had hugged Yasser Arafat, so he also thought he should explain that relationship with Yasser Arafat and he used that synagogue to explain, that this was really a comrade, and you don’t dump a comrade. He did that very well – he went to a mosque with the Muslim judicial Council. The church he went to was St George’s Cathedral with Archbishop Tutu and he went to his own church, the Methodist Church. That was very important to him, there was a spiritual side to him although he always said that religion was between a person and their God, it had nothing to do with anyone else.

Jessie Duarte
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