The Presidential Years

After the election I had a most emotional moment at the opening of Parliament. Now this is what Mandela was. I was in the second row and the whole procession came in to Parliament, Mandela in front. Walking down the aisle towards his position he saw me and he broke away from the ceremonial procession, walked towards me and shook hands with me saying, ‘I’m so glad that we could find each other and that we could solve the issue’, which to me was a great encouragement but in one way also a very detrimental factor as far as the far right was concerned. You can’t always win the war – sometimes you win sometimes you lose!

Then Mandela called me in as the new state president and said, ‘My office is open to you. I have a great desire not to be a president only of the ANC but to be a president of everybody and I wish to give you free access to my office. If you have anything for the Afrikaner you would like to come and discuss, you can ask.’ Believe me, it never took more than two days for me to see the president if there was something I wanted to discuss. We had very deep discussions.

Constand Viljoen