Tag Archives: Cyril Ramaphosa

Wat die Engelsman nie wil sien nie, dit sien hy nie

Robin Renwick (gebore in 1937) was ‘n Britse regeringsverteenwoordiger in Rhodesië (1978-1980) toe die politieke mag van die blanke bewind na swart terreurgroepe oorgegaan het. Hierna was Renwick die Britse ambassadeur in Suid-Afrika (1987-1991), dus toe dieselfde situasie besig was om plaaslik te ontvou. Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990) en daarna John Major (1990-1997) was toe die Britse eerste minister. Renwick was lid van die Britse Arbeidersparty en uiters goed toegerus om die plaaslike blankes sover moontlik te benadeel. Hy is vir sy pro-swart gesindheid vergoed deur hom as die Britse ambassadeur in Amerika (1991-1995) aan te stel.

Die opskrif van hierdie rubriek is ontleen aan MER (Maria Elizabeth Rothmann, 1875-1975) se stelling oor wat kenmerkend van ‘n “Engelsman”/Brit is: “Wat hy nie wil sien nie, dit sien hy nie” (My beskeie deel, Kaapstad: Tafelberg, 1976, p 22). Hierdie stelling is in uitnemende mate op Renwick van toepassing. Soos hier onder blyk, is dit moeilik om ‘n bedrywiger en lastiger diplomatieke gatvlieg as Renwick voor te stel. My uiteensetting is gebaseer op sy boek, Mission to South Africa: Diary of a revolution(Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2015, 139p; Amazon Kindle $11,39). Hierdie rubriek behoort teen die agtergrond van FW de Klerk se lewensbeskrywing gelees te word. Tydens my bespreking van daardie outobiografie is verskeie kere na Renwick verwys (Praag 23 September).

In die proloog skryf Renwick oor sy betrokkenheid by Rhodesië, wat in 1980 as Zimbabwe onafhanklik geword het en sedertdien ‘n uiters bedenklike voorbeeld van swart regering is. Die terreurbendes van Robert Mugabe en Joshua Nkomo word “liberation forces” (Kindle 145) of “guerrillas” (201) genoem. “As for Mugabe’s tactics, one of the principal methods used to bring areas of the country under his forces’ control was the torture, mutilation and execution of village headmen in front of the villagers” (208). Tydens ‘n besoek aan Zambië Thatcher “added, to my dismay, that she had no plans to send British troops to Rhodesia” (228). Renwick wou hê dat Brittanje militêr moet ingryp ná Ian Smith se eensydige onafhanklikheidsverklaring.

Toe Smith later Brittanje besoek, het Thatcher besluit “having nothing whatever to do with Ian Smith, who had been greeted with applause by airport workers on his arrival in Britain and fêted by some right-wing members of her party” (238). Thatcher het geweier om met Smith gesprek te voer. Renwick verwys na “the brooding and sardonic presence of Ian Smith” en “his grating voice” (258) tydens die grondwetlike onderhandelings. Dwarsdeur die boek gebruik Renwick positiewe byvoeglike naamwoorde wanneer hy na linkses verwys en negatiewe byvoeglike naamwoorde vir nie-linkses, bv diegene wat pro-blank gesind is.

Peter Carrington (gebore in 1919 — die bliksem lewe steeds), die Britse minister van buitelandse sake (1979-1982), het Smith en die leiers van die terroristebewegings vir samesprekings ontmoet. “When Smith complained … that we were dragging out the conference while people were being killed in Rhodesia, the normally imperturbable Carrington lost his temper completely. Purple with anger, he told Smith that the responsibility for the war … rested squarely with him” (258). Onderhandel nou met ‘n Brit wat dermate bevooroordeeld is. Dit is terroris-invalle wat die oorlog veroorsaak het, maar Renwick verwys eerder na die Rhodesiërs “launching ferocious cross-border raids” (201) in Zambië en Mosambiek (268); invalle wat uit selfverdediging gedoen is.

Net soos die terroristiese Swapo later in Suidwes-Afrika sou doen (1309),* het Mugabe nie die wapenstilstand in Rhodesië eerbiedig nie, “Mugabe used his forces outside the assembly area to intimidate the villagers” (314). Renwick roem op sy eie “impartiality” (324) terwyl hy hom heelhartig by die swartes geskaar en sy anti-blanke gesindheid daarna in Suid-Afrika voortgesit het. Die Rhodesiese onafhanklikheidsverkiesing was glo “free and fair” (324), maar lees gerus ‘n ooggetuieverslag oor hoe terroriste toegelaat is om vryelik en ten volle gewapen by die stemlokale rond te hang.** Renwick skryf oor Thatcher: “Though she was no friend of the liberation movements, it was thanks to her willingness to take the necessary risks that we had been able to end the Rhodesian war” (2523).

[* Thatcher wou nie hê dat die Suid-Afrikaanse regering sonder die goedkeuring van die Verenigde Nasies teen Swapo se verbreking van die wapenstilstand optree nie: “If the South Africans took unilateral action, ‘the whole world will be against you – led by me!’” (1318). Die bemoeisieke Renwick wou die Swapo-terroriste soveel moontlik beskerm: “I argued fiercely against air strikes … As I returned to Windhoek, I was told that the UN had accepted the need for action to deal with the incursions and Pik Botha told me the air strikes had been called off. Ground forces and police units were allowed to deploy instead” (1326).]

[** “With an estimated 35 000 insurgents flooding into the country to vote, and to cause trouble if the outcome was not to their liking, the security forces certainly had to be on their toes” (George Selby, From safari suit to camouflage, edited by Lillian van Velden, Partridge Publishing, 2016, 276p; Amazon Kindle $4,55, 4498). “It was amazing just how many blacks had already gathered for the next day’s voting, many of them carrying weapons: RPG-7s, machine guns, and rifles” (4557). “As more and more insurgents came out of the bush, so did intimidation and beatings of the locals, who had no choice but to vote for whom they were told” (4580). “The three days of polling were full of tension as many heavily armed insurgents loitered around the polling station” (4617). Vir meer inligting: “Verraad in Rhodesië/Zimbabwe en Suid-Afrika (Praag 3.04.2016).]

In die eerste paragraaf van sy boek verwys Renwick na apartheid/afsonderlike ontwikkeling as ‘n “fundamentally abhorrent system” (35); daardie Brits-geïnisieerde beleid van rasse-segregasie wat die land vir blankes leefbaar en Europese beskawing eeue lank in Suidelike Afrika moontlik gemaak het. Later verwys hy na die PW Botha-regering as “this highly autocratic system” (1053). Renwick roem daarop dat Brittanje, wat buitelandse regerings betref, die hoofrol in die myns insiens skandalige plaaslike politieke revolusie gespeel het (45). “Great admirer as I am of George Bush senior, he did not make anything like as strenuous an effort as Thatcher did to bombard [!] the South African government with demands for reform and the release of Mandela” (1461).

Ten spyte van al die bedenklikhede wat feitelik korrek aan Nelson Mandela toegeskryf kan word, verklaar Renwick: “My admiration for him was second to no one’s … the great man” (45; ook 2179). “He did indeed have some saintly characteristics … the authentic Mandela, generous in spirit, libertarian by instinct, and inspirational to everyone he met – including me” (62). Ná Mandela se vrylating Renwick “met him in the tiny match-box-style house he had returned to … The contrast was dramatic between these humble surroundings and the quality of the man inside” (1788). “His old-world courtesy and unfailing charm served to mask a steely determination not to compromise any of the principles for which he and others had sacrificed their liberty or lives” (1797).

Die (meeste) toegewings sou van FW de Klerk se kant kom. Desnieteenstaande skryf Renwick: Mandela “showed a much greater commitment than others to genuine political tolerance” (1797). Mandela was egter ‘n bakhandstanende “heilige”: “At the end of every meeting I had with him, he would never fail to ask for money for the ANC” (70). In Renwick se oë is Desmond Tutu ook wonderlik: “I was a wholehearted admirer” (706). Toe ses swartes vir die moord op die onderburgemeester van Sharpeville ter dood veroordeel is, het die bemoeisieke Renwick vir Tutu opgesteek om Thatcher oor te haal om by PW Botha om begenadiging te pleit (877). Oliver Thambo was volgens Renwick ook wonderlik: “I was very impressed by the scholarly and thoughtful Tambo” (1788).

Die kettingroker FW de Klerk word uiteraard positief deur Renwick voorgestel omdat De Klerk daarin geslaag het om blanke politieke mag mandaatloos aan swart mag oor te gee. “I found him to be open, friendly and impressively self-confident” (673). Ook: “FW de Klerk was friendly, approachable, personally impressive” (1064) en “I had been impressed by De Klerk’s strength of character” (1083). “I was able to establish a regular pattern of meetings with De Klerk” (1141). “I always found him focused on getting to the next stage and never losing sight of the goal, which was to agree [to] a new constitution that would give political rights to all South Africans” (97).

Daar is ‘n De Klerk-kenmerk wat myns insiens ‘n deurslaggewende rol in sy oorgawe aan swart mag gespeel het: “De Klerk said that he was not security-dominated in his thinking” (1113). “In his first decision as President, he had banned use by the police of the sjambok” (1490); eintlik knuppel. Na sy toespraak in die parlement op 2 Februarie 1990 “virtually all the troops had been withdrawn from the townships” (1711). In sy naïwiteit het De Klerk geen idee gehad van die boosheid van die vyand waarmee hy spoedig onvoorwaardelik onderhandel het nie. Onmiddellik na sy vrylating Mandela “reaffirmed his commitment to the armed struggle … ‘Now is the time to intensify the struggle on all fronts’” (1723). Maar Douglas Hurd, die Britse minister van buitelandse sake (1989-1995) het De Klerk beskryf as “an amazingly brave and wise man” (1893).

In sy boek wou Renwick ‘n lansie vir Thatcher breek: “I hope that this book will lay finally to rest the contention that Margaret Thatcher was ‘a friend of apartheid’ and called Nelson Mandela a ‘terrorist’ (which, as a matter of fact, she never did)” (114); wat nie impliseer dat Mandela nie ‘n terroris was nie. By geleentheid het die ANC probeer om Thatcher af te dreig met “British businesses in South Africa would become legitimate targets for attack” – “if she continued to oppose sanctions” (759). Die Britse sanksies het “arms, oil and nuclear embargoes” ingesluit (1760) maar nie algemene handelsanksies nie. “Understandably irritated, she replied that this showed what a typical terrorist organisation the ANC was” (759). “Thatcher had never been an admirer of the ANC, given that the ‘armed struggle’ had been extended to civilian targets and included the necklacing of ‘collaborators’, and that the organisation was committed to nationalisation of much of the economy. Moreover, she had not failed to notice that, despite the SACP’s lack of any mass support, two-thirds of the ANC’s politburo were members of the SACP” (759).

Waarop Thatcher deurgaans aangedring het, was “the release of Nelson Mandela, the repeal of all the apartheid laws and independence for Namibia” (123) en “the front-line states should be spared further attacks by the South African armed forces” (412). Renwick het aan Thatcher voorgestel hoe sy die PW Botha-regering kon afdreig: “any major cross-border raids … would make her position intolerable and result in the withdrawal of her support” (500). In 1983 het Thatcher geskryf “that the exclusion of blacks from the political process was ‘a powerful factor in compelling black politicians to seek by violence what is denied to them by the laws under which they live’” (392). Op hierdie manier word terrorisme goedgepraat.

Soms het Thatcher se deuntjie ietwat verander: “She was, she said, against all forms of terrorism, but the ANC was an important factor in South African politics. The question was how to get them to give up violence” (1013). Die ANC was so verknog aan geweld dat hy dit nooit afgesweer het nie. FW de Klerk se “oplossing” was om met hierdie gewelddenaars te onderhandel terwyl hulle terselfdertyd met hulle geweld voortgegaan het, met uiteindelik die katastrofiese resultaat van oorgawe aan swart mag. Ná haar eerste ontmoeting met Mandela het Thatcher gesê: “‘I warmed to him.’ She told Mandela that he would get support from the British government in the negotiations for a new constitution … She concluded that ‘South Africa was lucky to have a man of Mr Mandela’s stature at such a time’” (2142).

Toe Renwick sy geloofsbriewe as ambassadeur oorhandig het, het hy ‘n deel van sy toespraak in Afrikaans gelewer (529), want “I had resolved to concentrate my efforts on the Afrikaners and the black leadership” (520). Renwick noem die blanke politieke bewind ‘n “regime” (bv 373, 480; “that ironclad regime” – 2594) en daar was toe glo ‘n “siege mentality” (383) by Afrikaners. PW Botha wou hê dat die ANC se kantoor in Londen, van waar sy terreurbedrywighede bedryf is, gesluit moet word, maar Thatcher het beweer dat die ANC-kamerade hulle nie aan onwettige bedrywighede skuldig maak nie (403, 944). Ronnie Kasrils is egter toegelaat om Londen te besoek “even though MK had declared that it would be targeting ‘soft’, ie civilian, targets” (953). Wat volgens die Britse regering glo wel onwettig was, was die inbrake in die Londense kantore van die ANC en Swapo deur die “apartheidsregime” se Craig Williamson (412).

“Following the assassination of Dulcie September, the ANC representative in Paris, in March 1988, we became concerned about the possibility of an attack on ANC personnel in London. The Prime Minister [Thatcher] decreed that we must give the South African government the clearest possible warning that any such action would attract a strong reaction from us” (1123), wat duidelik toon dat die Britse regering kop in een mus met die terroristiese ANC was. In 1989 was daar ‘n interessante verwikkeling. “South African agents had supplied a rocket launcher and training to a Northern Ireland Protestant paramilitary splinter group” (1373). Thatcher het toe van PW Botha geëis: “The South African arms procurement agency, Armscor, must be told to cease their activities in the United Kingdom” (1384). Dus, die ANC mag Suid-Afrika vanuit Brittanje militêr ondermyn, maar Suid-Afrika mag nie militêr in Britse sake betrokke wees nie.

Renwick het Pik Botha, toe die minister van buitelandse sake, gewaarsku teen Suid-Afrika se ondersteuning van Renamo se bedrywighede teen die kommunistiese bewind in Mosambiek (520). Kontrasteer die volgende gemene beskrywing van Pik Botha met hoe Renwick Mandela, Tutu en De Klerk beskryf: “Built like a buffalo, he would sit in his shirtsleeves, a thick black lock of hair falling across his face, complaining about the world’s supposed injustice towards South Africa … an accomplished actor … his faults … were not small ones” (1229).

Volgens Renwick PW Botha “never forgot that his mother had been interned by the British during the Anglo-Boer War” (546). Waaraan het tweegesprekke met PW Botha vir Renwick herinner? “Conjuring up images of what it must have been like calling on the Führer in his bunker” (546). Renwick lug later weer sy smerige begeerte om PW Botha met Adolf Hitler se vergelyk: “The last-ditch atmosphere around PW Botha was like that which must have prevailed around Hitler in his bunker” (1042). Oor PW Botha se uittrede as president skryf Renwick: “I doubted that he would agree to go gracefully, but felt a sense of great relief and satisfaction at seeing the last of him. For this was a man who never should have been put in charge of the fortunes of his or any other country” (1413). Renwick sê nie iets soortgelyks van enige swarte nie; dus ook nie van bv Jacob Zuma of Robert Mugabe nie.

PW Botha “exercised a reign of terror over the cabinet. He believed in intimidation across the board” (750). Daar was ook “PW Botha’s chief henchman, the Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan, leader of the group of so-called securocrats … Malan was a great believer in ‘taking out’ enemies of the regime, internally through special force units, which had developed into assassination squads, and externally by whatever means were necessary” (657). “If the security police and military intelligence were allowed to continue their activities, including murder squads, unchecked, there was no way any of us were going to be able to help South Africa” (1104). Renwick verwys na “the lunatic fringes of the security establishment” (1384) maar die misdadige optrede van swart terreurbendes word nêrens deur Renwick veroordeel nie. Die naaste wat hy daaraan kom, is wanneer hy verwys na “the equally violent record of members of the security forces” (1874).

“The politics of the white community remained quite tribal” (582). Dit geld eerder vir die swartes, maar Renwick sê dit nie. Renwick wou graag by die UDF, “the future leadership of the country” (624), kruip, maar sy pogings is bemoeilik weens Thatcher se teenkanting teen algehele sanksies. Wat Renwick toe gedoen het, is om met Britse belastingbetalers se geld “over three hundred projects” (633) van ‘n filantropiese aard in swart gebiede van stapel te stuur. “We also had launched a US$20 million programme to provide scholarships for black South Africans. We also were giving direct help to a lot of church and community group projects in the townships” (725). Na dese kan niemand beweer dat die Britte nie weet hoe om op grond van ras swartes te bevoordeel en blankes uit te sluit nie. Ná Mandela se vrylating was die Britse gebaar “rescinding the voluntary embargoes on tourism and new investment. The other embargoes would continue, but it made no sense to discourage academic and scientific contacts with the liberal English-speaking universities, where we were supporting a number of black students” (1806).

“I also tried to establish friendships with a number of ex-Robben Islanders” (640) en ander swart politieke leiers. “A number of Robben Islanders became regular visitors to the embassy, as did a number of National Party MPs” (649), wat vir Renwick gehelp het om die Nasionale Party te rysmier: “Some at least among them could hardly fail to be impressed by the qualities of those the regime had condemned to years of imprisonment for their political acts and views” (657). Die (opportunistiese) politieke begeertes van swartes word “legitimate aspirations” genoem (824). Oor die “apartheidsregime” beweer Renwick “you [are] isolating yourselves” (915). Die ANC, PAC en Swapo se terreurbendes word nie terroriste genoem nie maar “guerrillas” (bv 1159).

Wat Renwick gedoen het, is om aktief gesprekke te voer met verskillende elemente ten einde die politieke magsoorgawe aan swartes te bevorder. Enersyds was daar die spreekwoordelike nuttige idiote in die Nasionale Party soos FW de Klerk, Pik Botha, Kobie Coetzee, Barend du Plessis en Dawie de Villiers, asook amptenare soos Gerhard de Kock, die goewerneur van die Reserwe Bank, en Neil van Heerden, die direkteur-generaal van buitelandse sake. Dan was daar linksgesinde Afrikaanssprekendes soos Jan Steyn, Willem de Klerk, Willie Esterhuyse, Pieter de Lange en Johan Heyns wat vatbaar vir Renwick se ondermyning was. In opposisiegeledere was daar bv Harry Oppenheimer, Helen Suzman en Van Zyl Slabbert. Suzman se siening van De Klerk word soos volg verwoord: “She saw him not as a starry-eyed liberal, but as a pragmatic, intelligent man who understood what needed to be done to secure the country’s future” (1403).

Afrikaanse joernaliste soos Ton Vosloo en Willem Wepener het gesorg dat Renwick se idees oor bv politieke regte vir swartes in Naspers se koerante gepubliseer word. Renwick “hand over sufficient funding for the paper [Weekly Mail] to survive for … three months” sodat Anton Harber sy kritiek op die “apartheidsregime” kon voortsit (794). Renwick se pro-swart inmenging in die Suid-Afrikaanse politiek het geen grense geken nie. In gesprek met De Klerk Renwick “raised also the issue of abolition of the death penalty” (1646). Op die vooraand van die Statebondskonferensie in Oktober 1989 Renwick “had used its proximity, unashamedly, to accelerate the release of Walter Sisulu and his companions” (1557).

“I went to Soweto to meet Walter Sisulu and the other released Robben Islanders … I told them that I had spoken to the government about the need not to interfere with the planned rally to welcome them back to Soweto … It was an emotional occasion to meet at last these legendary figures in the history of the ANC. None of the venerable gentlemen … looked very much like revolutionaries, though several were members of the SACP” (1574). “In his public statements following his release, Sisulu continued to emphasise the armed struggle. He also called for more sanctions” (1584).

Toe Kobus Meiring as die administrateur van die Kaapprovinsie aanstel is, “I asked him to promise at last to open the magnificent beaches to South Africans of all races. Kobus, whose own apartment at the Strand was on a still-segregated beach, needed no persuasion to do so” (1132). Weens verswelging deur swartes is daar deesdae op die gewildste vakansiedae in die somer in die Strand, soos in bv Durban, geen blankes op die strand nie. Dit is ‘n omgekeerde situasie. Blankes moes hulle tradisionele ontspanningsplekke aan swartes afstaan. Die nuwe omstandighede benadeel Suid-Afrikaanse blankes ingrypend maar nie vir Renwick wat knus in Engeland woon nie. Polities byderwets word dit geregtigheid genoem.

Renwick het Suidwes-Afrika besoek toe Suid-Afrikaanse troepe in Angola militêr teen Swapo en (ander) kommunistiese magte bedrywig was. Let op Renwick se bevooroordeelde invalshoek: “I was briefed by a half-mad South African colonel on the battle of the Lomba River … On the struggle against Swapo in Namibia, he took the view that victory was certain — but for the efforts of the enemy within. When I inquired who the enemy within were, he replied: ‘The churches, the trade unions and the teachers’” (1193). Renwick het nie daarvan gehou dat kommunistiese magte deur die Suid-Afrikaanse troepe opgehel word nie. “I asked the South Africans whether they did not think they were in danger of overreaching themselves. Johan Heyns inquired publicly whether it made sense to have men ‘defending South Africa’ two hundred miles inside Angola” (1211). Dus, voorspringaksies moet nie buite Suid-Afrikaanse grondgebied uitgevoer word nie; ons moes wag totdat terroriste ons land binnegedring en verwoesting plaaslik gesaai het. Die onafhanklikwording van Suidwes-Afrika word soos volg deur Renwick beskryf: “Namibia returned to legality” (1301).

Ná sy vrylating Mandela “needed some practical help from us. Not wanting to rely for his security only on the South African police, he asked us to provide training for his personal bodyguards, which we arranged for the SAS [British Special Air Service] to do. Later on, when he moved to his wife’s much larger house, he asked for our help in providing better privacy and security there” (1833). Die Britte kon nooit genoeg by Mandela kruip nie. Toe Mandela Brittanje en Amerika besoek het, het die goeie Britte vir hom gedoen wat hulle kon: “To give him some rest before going there [America], we planned to arrange for him to spend a quiet weekend in the English countryside with his great friend and colleague Oliver Tambo” (2076).

Die ander kant van die munt: Sou Renwick kritiek uitspreek op die grootskaalse diefstal van blankes se plase in Zimbabwe en sou hy die reeksmoorde op blanke boere in die nuwe Suid-Afrika veroordeel? Om so iets van hierdie eenogige Brit te verwag, sou myns insiens heeltemal te veel wees.

Ek dink Suid-Afrika sou beter daaraan toe gewees het as Renwick nooit toegelaat is om sy voete in Suid-Afrika te sit nie. Hy is egter vereer toe sy termyn as Britse ambassadeur in Suid-Afrika in 1991 verstryk het. “When I left, Wits University, on the proposal of Helen Suzman, was kind enough to award me an honorary degree ‘for services to the struggle against apartheid’. (The offer from the South African government of the Order of Good Hope I had to decline – on the same grounds Margaret Thatcher had declined the freedom of the city of Johannesburg)” (2585). Volgens Renwick was daar iets “that pleased me the most” tydens sy plaaslike ambassadeurskap: “It was possible to try to act as a genuinely honest broker … I left with an unaccustomed sense of humility” (2594).

Die Britte het die Anglo-Boere-oorlog deur verswelging gewen. Sedert 1994 gaan Afrikaners gebuk onder ‘n soortgelyke verskynsel. Renwick se gedrag in Suid-Afrika herinner aan dít wat die Romeine van die Britte gedink het: “Neither brave in battle, nor faithful in peace” (Nicholas Ostler, Empires of the word: A language history of the world, London: HarperCollins, 2005/2010, 640p; Amazon Kindle $6.83, 5127).