Allow me a few comments on Hans Pienaar’s review of Niel Barnard’s book, Peaceful Revolution (Niel Barnard provides a revealing peek into the negotiations leading to ’94, November 30).
There is deep irony on display in the title. Between 20,000 and 30,000 people died during violence leading up to election in 1994. Some "peaceful revolution"!
Included among the dead were more than 400 leaders of a political party that was in opposition to the current ruling party.
Barnard knows the identity of the movement that did the bulk of this killing.
He also has intimate knowledge of the many tonnes of illegal weapons that were smuggled into the country for the express purpose of killing political opponents.
It is poppycock to claim as he did that 40 tonnes of documents were destroyed in army furnaces to destroy the identity of his secret agents — it was done to conceal the true history of exactly what happened on the road to democracy.
He writes his memoirs on the transition on the basis of what he chooses to reveal, while hiding the critical documents he destroyed from those who might have a different view.
Barnard’s arrogance is breathtaking. Whatever former president Nelson Mandela might or might not have said to him at the start of the Codesa talks in 1991, it is fatuous to claim as he did that he was the co-author of SA’s transition to democracy. It was the millions of South Africans who defied apartheid who made the racial policies he and the party he was a member of designed to oppress the majority of South Africans, and made apartheid unworkable.
Contrast Barnard’s foolish claim to the following statements made by one of SA’s foremost sons, Rhodes scholar and one-time Anglo American Corporation chairman, Gavin Relly: "No one — the ANC included — had done more to halt the ideological thrust of apartheid than Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi."
It was Buthelezi who authored the modalities that led to the unbanning of political organisations and the freeing of political prisoners, including Mandela. Ask former president FW de Klerk to confirm this, as he did when he announced the unbannings. Mandela himself confirmed this in writing.
Barnard has done the cause of history a disgraceful disservice by overseeing the destruction of documents he had no right to destroy.