The Presidential Years

On the more general question of the report of the Volkstaat Council, I wish to reiterate that my organisation, and I personally, will study the report with sensitivity. We will do so, taking into account the co-operation by these leaders in the peaceful transition. At the same time, we remain firmly committed to the principles of democracy, nonracialism and equality.

Many of you do not know what dangers faced this country just before the elections. However, those of us who negotiated as far back as 1986, and especially shortly before the election, know that we were on the brink of a catastrophe which could have plunged this country into bloodshed.

Through confidential discussions without publicity, we were able to bring around some of those people who were determined and whose plans were finalised to plunge this country into bloodshed.

It is easy for you to say that there will be no Volkstaat in this country. That is easy for you, because you did not do the work. You do not know what dangers we have averted.

I am not going to play cheap politics with the future of this country. If people have been turned round and are now co-operating, we as responsible leaders must sit down and see how we can meet them. I have said before, and I wish to repeat it, that the decision on the question of the Volkstaat is going to lie with the people of South Africa. They have to tell us whether or not they want a Volkstaat. It is not a question that is just going to be dealt with in an opportunistic manner.

I am reported in the press as saying that Krugersdorp is going to be a Volkstaat. Sometimes I do not even know where Krugersdorp is.

[Laughter.] But that is what the press is reporting.

We must be able to deal with these questions with responsibility and sensitivity. In discussing such questions, our aim must be to keep to the principles of democracy, nonracialism and equality.

At the same time it is necessary to give those who are putting forward this idea something to take back to their people as the results of sitting down, negotiating and talking over the problems of our country.