The transition: Who paid the pipers?

Piet Swanepoel comments on Dave Steward's comments on Niel Barnard's book The Secret Revolution

The article by Mr. Dave Steward about Dr. Niel Barnard’s book has prompted me to share with readers the recollections of other NIS chiefs. We can also take another look at the strange and secretive actions of various people which culrminated in the adoption of South Africa’s present constitution. Most of what follows appeared in a book I wrote in 2007 (Really Inside Boss).

First of all I related what all the various chiefs if the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and Mr. F.W. De Klerk had to say about the Service in a booklet it published in 1994 to commemorate the 25 years of the Service’s life. Ironically that was also the final year of its existence.

The first chief of the Service, general H.J. van den Bergh wrote this:

“On 23 August 1968 Adv B. J. Vorster, then Prime Minister of South Africa, requested that I come to see him. He informed me that the cabinet had decided that I should establish an intelligence organization. He explained that the cabinet needed to be informed about security and related matters and said further that it was decided that, in addition to general intelligence work, I would also have to take control over both the Security police and Defence Force intelligence. I raised my objection and explained that the three services could not fall under one head. My objections were dismissed, however, and I was informed that it was not expected of me to form a department but that I would personally be placed on the staff of the Prime Minister from where I was to handle matters.

In the ensuing week I informed the Premier that I could not carry out his order in the above terms and recommended that he appoint Appeal Court Judge H.J. Potgieter of Bloemfontein, who was a friend of his, to investigate the matter. In the meantime, I would then begin to organize an intelligence organization. With the support of Judge Potgieter, I was able to persuade the Prime Minister to give his permission for the formation of a department - the Bureau for State Security.

That, dear members, is the origin of the current National Intelligence Service. An uncertain charter, but as history has shown, the beginning of an organization whose contribution to upholding the state order is impossible to calculate.

At this stage, with the approval and co-operation of the Commissioner of Police and his senior officers, I had already had all the members of the Republican Intelligence Service (RIS) transferred, plus other specially chosen and skilled men from other departments. With these people as the core of the organization, the task given to me by the Prime Minister was simple, easy and a pleasure. They had already fully accepted the Bureau as their service and took responsibility for everything: they formed the department, prepared legislation, built a new building, collected information and evaluated it and we were able to give the Prime Minister a weekly factual submission that covered the whole spectrum. Offices were opened in several countries abroad, from the East to the West. Foreign languages were mastered, friendships were forged and reciprocal goodwill visits took place.

Thank you to all these men and women for their friendship and particularly tangible loyalty. Thank you to all my successors and the men and women who pulled the wagon so safely over the mountains and valleys over the years! The road ahead is becoming steeper and steeper, the cliffs and ravines wider and deeper. May I make use of this opportunity to congratulate every one of you on your quarter-of-a-century anniversary and to wish you strength in the years that lie ahead. I pray for God’s mercy, great wisdom and strength for you. In all affairs of men there is but one certainty, and that is the mercy and love of our Heavenly Father. Focus on that and trust, because then success will be your inheritance.”

General Van den Bergh’s successor was Mr. Alexander (Alec) Van Wyk. His message was slightly shorter:

“I was Director-General, then known as the Secretary, from 1 July 1978 until my retirement on 31 May 1980. In addition, I was also a founding member when the then Bureau for State Security was formed in 1969.

Through the years everything did not always go smoothly, because there were times of disruption and ‘Sturm und Drang’. But the Service developed as a result of dedicated service and it is currently comparable with the best in the world. During my period of service there was an exchange of political heads – Adv B. J. Vorster became State President and Mr. P. W. Botha succeeded him - a change that was accompanied by adaptations, because each leader had his own views and priorities with respect to the activities of the Service.

During this period the Service was also intensively involved into the investigation into the irregularities surrounding the so-called Info Scandal, which had many implications and far-reaching effects. Great success was achieved with respect to various cases of espionage.

In spite of our country’s political isolation, close co-operation was established with other intelligence services abroad, especially with regard to the exchange of relevant intelligence.

The Service has always maintained a high level of professionalism. Such a calibre of members can overcome any challenge in the future and carry out valuable service to the country, in spite of the circumstances.

I wish the Service well on its 25th anniversary; good luck and success for the future. May the Great Provider give wisdom and strength because much will be asked of everyone in the new dispensation.”

Dr. L.D. Barnard, who took over when Alec Van Wyk retired, provided the following message:

“It was my privilege to be the Head of the National Intelligence Service during the exiting decade of the eighties. It was during this period that the political future of South Africa was irreversibly changed. Throughout this dramatic strategic change of course in our country the NIS has played a crucial role. This role was not only limited to supplying security intelligence but also involved the fact that the strategic foundation was laid for deciding the country’s future by means of negotiation, rather than by means of conflict.

The NIS could fulfil this role because it is schooled in the age-old universal fundamentals of the intelligence profession, it seeks the truth and it undauntedly conveys it to the government. This is most probably the most timeless asset of the intelligence profession. It is an asset that entails crucial influence, provided that it is carried out in a balanced and mature manner.

During this period NIS established itself finally in South Africa as the first in the intelligence community and internationally it acquired an image as one of the world’s foremost intelligence services. Its undisputed leadership role in South Africa during this time and the extensive expansion of intelligence liaison with numerous other intelligence and security services abroad are evidence of this.

This and many other achievements, was made possible by a corps of members who were uniquely equipped for the task and who carried out their task with commitment and an ardent spirit of sacrifice. Intelligence work, more than any other profession, is dependant on people with unique talents. I was privileged, for almost 12 years, to be able to share with many of them in a unique life experience - not merely a daily work experience.

The future is full of promise for the men and women who are able to dedicate their talents to the challenge and excitement of the future. Without an effective intelligence capability, stability and prosperity will not be a part of the new country. To ensure this the NIS has a unique task, and it is my prayer that our Heavenly Father will give you the strength and conviction to make use of the extraordinarily many talents of your members in the attainment of this greater ideal”.

Mr. M.J. (Mike) Louw was the last chief of the National Intelligence Service. He assumed this duty on February 1st, 1992. His message read as follows:

“Over the last quarter of a century the National Intelligence Service has reached many milestones. Its 25th anniversary is one of these and it accompanies the completion of an era. We are on the verge of a new country, with a new constitution and new structures, including a new intelligence service.

Notwithstanding some understandable nostalgia, I am also relieved; relieved because the change that had to precede a new dispensation has been handled and managed as well as possible.

Already in the mid 1970’s our analyses showed that a fundamental political and constitutional re-orientation - an historic process of reconciliation and settlement - was inevitable. The hard facts also confirmed this.

The steps that had to be taken in this regard were of crucial importance, namely to create a political will in order to handle this extensive matter; timing; the creation of a favourable climate; manoeuvring with respect to preconditions.

However, the National Intelligence Service’s ability to further these steps was extremely limited. A high military profile was maintained during this period: it was a time between two extremes: either enemies or allies.

We here at the NIS progressed slowly but surely. Disagreements that we could not win, we avoided. A wise helmsman was also at the head of the NIS during this time and time was in our favour. Admittedly there were risks involved in the path we had chosen, but radical change was never a textbook case.

We have eventually reached the point in this country where we have to be if we want to move forwards. The NIS has contributed its share. We also have no qualms about being judged by history.

The future demands even more from us than the past - it demands objectivity and serviceability from everyone. Instability, secret agenda’s, family feuds, impossible expectations, ethnic intolerance, class struggles: these and many more will be on our list of priorities.

We stand once more before the challenge to maintain the principles of good intelligence work; to do so in a spirit of tolerance; to serve South Africa; and to serve the people. Come, let each one of us accept these challenges and bring them to fruition”.

The final “Celebration Message” I am going to quote was that sent by the then President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. F.W. de Klerk. In NIS’ book, of course, it was the first message:

“In the 25 years since its formation in 1969 the National Intelligence Service has developed into a professional organization with a high level of integrity, which renders an indispensable service to South Africa and its inhabitants.

The political turbulence that has been characteristic of the last 25 years has not only characterized South Africa, but also the whole world. The last decade, especially has been marked by fast and unexpected changes, such as the disintegration of the East Bloc, the end of the Cold War and the resultant so-called new world era.

In South Africa reality compelled us to undertake fundamental reforms and to introduce a new dispensation, in which justice and fairness will be victorious. In the indication of a new direction for South Africa, the National Intelligence explored new areas and did not hesitate to sometimes maintain very unpopular standpoints.

Also during the transition to a negotiated settlement, the NIS was still indispensable in keeping the decision-maker informed and geared to making the right decisions.

The NIS’ most important task is still to identify obstacles in the path of the coming into being of a South Africa in which peace, prosperity and security prevail. The changing world order and new rules of play also indicate that the role and importance of a national intelligence service will increase even more in the future..

I would like to offer my hearty congratulations to the Service on the celebration of its 25th birthday.

I wish you all the best in the great task that lies ahead, because the building of a new South Africa will entail many challenges in terms of the security and stability of the country”.

Somewhat tongue-in-cheek I commented as follows on these messages: “The reader who has persevered thus far may well scratch his head and ask: “What the hell were these guys saying?” Well, having known all the NIS men, and being privy to their secret codes I can tell the reader what all that gobbledygook meant:

General Van den Bergh said: “Look here, I started and shaped this outfit and while I was the boss we kept the ship afloat. I can only pray that the Good Lord will help you guys to continue doing so, but I see a lot of problems ahead for you”.

Alec Van Wyk said: “The Tall Man went and got this outfit all buggered up by helping the Rhoodies with their Info dealings, which, by the way, they copied from the CIA, and all I’ve been able to do is try to sort out the mess. Also P.W. and his Army gang have taken over and I’ve had to change the outfit’s name, because every time P.W. heard the word BOSS he threw a tantrum”.

Niel Barnard said: “I also gave the outfit a new name, I shook off the Army’s grip and tried to instil a little academic respectability into the place and hopefully the Good Lord will help you guys in the days ahead. I’ve started speaking to the ANC’s big guys and hopefully something might come of it”.

Mike Louw said: “I’ve continued this business of talking with the ANC guys and telling F.W. what they are saying. What I can see ahead is the end of this outfit, but I mean that’s been on the cards for twenty years. The army guys have been leaning on me, but there’s no way we can stop handing over the country to our black brethren”.

I guess what F.W. De Klerk really wanted to say was: “I’ve been made to see that we should give in to the ANC fellows. As it happens the Soviet Union has crumbled, so that gives me the opportunity to say that I’m not handing the place over to the commies. Actually what’s happened is that the heavies among the Brits and the Yanks have been leaning on me, so what else could I do?”

I wrote that I had no doubt that one day Dr. Barnard and Mike Louw would tell their own stories of the events which led to the eventual handing over of all power to the ANC. I said perhaps it was just as well that at that period of our history I was not a member of the Service any more, but farming with trout in the Eastern Transvaal and only sporadically writing fruitless letters to newspapers, to CODESA and to the Afrikaner Broederbond (AB) of which I was a member.

Had I known then, what became general knowledge when Allister Sparks’ book, Tomorrow is another Country, was published in October 1994 by Struik Publishers in Johannesburg, my memo dated 3 September 1990 to the AB would have been a different one altogether. What Sparks revealed was that starting from 1986 the chairman of the Broederbond. Pieter De Lange, had been meeting with ANC leaders abroad, and that between November 1987 and May 1990 altogether twelve meetings were held in great secrecy between influential Broederbond members like F.W. De Klerk’s brother, Wimpie, Sampie Terreblanche and Willie Esterhuyse and others, with senior ANC leaders in a luxury mansion in England which belonged to the mighty British mining house, Consolidated Goldfields. Consolidated Goldfields, of course, had a major subsidiary in South Africa. The chairman of this company, Rudolph Agnew, had “put up the funding for (Michael) Young to organize a series of secret meetings between the ANC and Afrikaner establishment figures” (p.78).

Wimpie De Klerk described these events in his diary as follows:

“For me personally they meant a great deal: the luxury trips and accommodation; the experience of sitting close to the fire and engaging in political breakthrough work to bring the National Party and the ANC to dialogue; the bonds of friendship that developed between Thabo (Mbeki), Aziz (Pahad), Jacob Zuma and myself; the access to direct confidential information; the position of intermediary, because from the beginning until now I have conveyed ‘secret messages’ from the ANC to FW and even the other way around, but FW was and is very cautious…”

Just imagine me sitting there on the farm completely ignorant about these goings on! And about those sundowners: Esterhuyse told Sparks that after those experiences he was teaching his political science students that “negotiations do not always have to be formal, you can use Glenfiddich to resolve a problem”.(p.86). You bet they don’t have to be. Especially with the British Establishment paying for this extremely expensive whisky!

The sadness of it all was that these naïve academics had not yet heard that he who pays the piper calls the tune.

The reader might be tempted to ask how these Broederbond fellows hoped to convince their brethren back home that one had to yield to the ANC’s (and their British godfathers’) demands and leave the Afrikaners with absolutely no power base and completely at the mercy of the black majority.

I am about to tell you. It was all spelt out in that memo of mine dated September 3rd 1990. It was a memorandum which I submitted to the secretary of our division, for submission to the Executive Council of the Broederbond. I quote the following paragraphs from it:

“On the 20th August 1990 a member of the Executive Council (EC), Dr…………, addressed a meeting of our and a number of other divisions. During his talk he made the following points:

a.  The EC’s approach with respect to the problems facing the creation of a new South Africa, is to adopt the concept of holism. It follows from this approach that the new South Africa should consist of one undivided entity.

b.  The most likely end model for the country will be a parliament consisting of two chambers. In the first chamber the members will be chosen by universal franchise, whereas members of the second chamber will be elected according to some form of group representation. It has to be accepted that in both houses there will be a majority of black members.

c.  The EC relies heavily on negotiations, but it has to be spelt out that the only group with which no negotiations can be conducted is the “regses” (Rightwing Afrikaners).

This subject is probably the most important one the AB has ever encountered in its entire history. If you were to submit my fears as set out below, together with the division’s comments to the EC I shall esteem it a favour.

I am concerned that Afrikaners should see anything positive in the concept of holism, except in as far as it refers to its physical scientific dimension. The moment the concept is advanced as valid for human society, it becomes nothing else but a handy way to “prove” the validity of forced integration.

General Jan Smuts was the best known champion of this doctrine in South Africa - not in the period when he fought on the side of the Boer Republics, but in the period when he was a member of the inner circle of the British Establishment. This power block played a significant role in the history of South Africa and many other countries. For the British Establishment holism was as handy a tool as dialectical materialism was for the communists - it provided “scientific” proof for the correctness of their ideologies.

To advance the doctrine of holism at this point in time, when Afrikaners are divided, having a model of one undivided South Africa with a black majority government as one option, and partition so that a state for Afrikaners can be created as another option, appears to me to be a mistake. Many of us have succeeded in shaking off our colour prejudices, but heaven knows if we will ever learn to love the British Imperialism of yesteryear and its destruction of the two Afrikaner republics.

It worries me also that the EC has decided not to negotiate with the so-called ‘rightwing”. I would have thought that Afrikaner unity should have been the most important task of the AB. I do not think the differences between Afrikaner groups are insurmountable. Basically they differ over one great problem: The anti-government group fear that no future dispensation in terms of which a majority of Non-Whites will be admitted to governing organs will guarantee the protection of the property and safety of white people because the white people will possess no instruments of power. The pro-government group ( and, one has to conclude, the EC,) believe that built-in “checks and balances” will provide sufficient protection of white interests.

Unfortunately we cannot expect the anti-group to patiently sit and wait to see if their fears are realized, because if that what they fear becomes reality it will be too late to do anything about it…

The great majority of Afrikaners, even if they make all kinds of racist remarks among themselves, realize that in a future dispensation no forms of racial discrimination will be tolerated. The great majority of Non-Whites realize that some kind of protection for Whites will have to be provided, unless they are to be forced into the new dispensation as a future fifth column.

We all know that protection in the form of a number of seats in parliament is no solution. In any event such seats will be seen as representing a racist element. A constitution and a Human Rights Charter can also be by-passed by a strong government. (We did it ourselves when we removed the Coloureds from the Common Roll).

The only alternative, therefore, is the creation of a province or a state for Afrikaners.”

I expanded at great length about this envisaged province, stressing that its locality and size would be a matter of consultation with other groups. I also stressed the fact that my definition of Afrikaners was people who spoke Afrikaans, irrespective of race, colour or creed. What had to be negotiated, however, was that the principle of such a state had to be accepted.

The AB never responded to my memo and I never attended another of their meetings. Many years later they wrote to me asking for a donation of some kind. I sent them a cheque and a copy of my memo, reminding them that I’d never had a reply to it. On February 18th 1994 the Secretary replied to my letter and thanked me for the cheque. Among other things he also made the following points:

`“The great problem still remains where such a province or `‘volkstaat’ or homeland or whatever one is to call it, will be situated. . How will it be accomplished? Some of the thoughts expressed in your letter will, of course, be totally unacceptable to a great majority of the so-called “regses”. And that immediately puts the finger on the most serious question of our time, which is that Afrikaners or the so-called “regses” cannot agree on a single vision for the future.”

In my book I conceded that these were valid points. However, I wrote that I was still adamant that the principle of the matter should be debated. The locality and the how of the problem will follow logically upon the acceptance of the principle. Leaving Afrikaners in a limbo in which their language, their culture and their safety is constantly threatened is to add fuel to a simmering inferno which might one day destroy the very fabric of this beautiful country.

My fears were that the whole process towards a new dispensation was being planned and orchestrated by some powerful behind-the-scene operator. These fears, as I saw it, were confirmed by an article in the Sunday Times on Dec 15th 1991. It contained two documents under a large banner reading: WE THE PEOPLE. It explained the documents in the following way: “On Tuesday the CODESA working group charged with drafting a Declaration of Intent will meet. Before them they will have draft proposals from the two major participants – the ANC and the National Party. The Sunday Times today publishes the full text of the draft declarations. Drawing from both, CODESA will have to decide which values and principles will guide the new South Africa.”

The Sunday Times duly printed the two documents, but oddly enough, neither its editor, nor any of its readers afterwards, felt obliged to point out that both the ANC and the National Party’s documents were merely variations of the same original. Just compare these introductions:

National Party Declaration of Intent

“We, the participants to the first meeting of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa hereby commit ourselves to bring about through peaceful negotiations an undivided South Africa with one nation sharing a common patriotism and loyalty, pursuing amidst the diversity of our community, freedom, equality and security for all regardless of colour, creed or culture, free from apartheid or any other form of discrimination or domination (sic)”

ANC’s Proposed Declaration of Intent

We, the representatives of the political movements and administrations, aware of the responsibility that rests upon all South Africans to work towards healing the divisions of the past and bringing peace, justice and the advancement of all to our country, declare our solemn commitment to bring about an undivided South Africa under one nation sharing a common citizenship, patriotism and loyalty – pursuing, amidst our diversity, freedom, equality and security for all irrespective of race, colour, sex or creed in a country free from apartheid or any other form of discrimination or domination”.

Obviously a single puppet-master had drafted the entire document and instructed both sides to base their declarations on it. Just as obviously the chaps entrusted with this task found it difficult to say the same thing using different words, so here and there they just stuck to the main text using the same words.

In places they were able to phrase a particular declaration somewhat differently from each other, but certain words proved to be too difficult to find synonyms for like “justiciable”. Thus the National Party would say that “The constitution shall be the supreme law, and everything done by the state and its organs shall be justiciable by an independent judiciary in terms of the constitution and a Charter of fundamental Rights”. The ANC would say the same thing thus: All shall enjoy universally accepted human rights, freedoms and civil liberties, including freedom of religion, speech assembly, protected under an entrenched and justiciable Bill of Rights”.

I could find only one point on which there was a divergence between the two declarations. This was in the principle listed by the Natioal Party calling for “a market oriented economic system with minimum state intervention based on free enterprise private initiative and thee right to private property and to contract freely…”. The ANC calmly ignored this subject. But this was understandable After all, how could communists agree to what to them must be sacrilege.

What puzzles is who the puppet-master was. Was it somebody in England, where al that Glen Fiddich was absorbed or could it have been another master - somebody with bagful’s of money which could assist the fellows to learn their scripts better and faster? Parts of the script were to be used over and over again in future, oddly enough not always by the party which inserted them into its declaration. Like “checks and balances”, which appeared only in the ANC’s version, but which was to be used regularly by National Party spokesmen.

These days people are inclined to blame the commies for what occurred at CODESA. I don’t. The commies may have been more astute, for instance steering clear of a free market and the right to own private property, but the commies lacked the weapons to force the Nats into playing the right tune. Their godfather, the Soviet Union, had crumbled, their Peoples War was killing off hundreds of innocent black people with necklaces made of burning tyres and their MK soldiers could never engage in a single battle with the South African Defence Force,

The West, on the other hand, had all the means at their disposal to oerce the Boers. They had cash rewards, like Philadelphia medals and Nobel Prizes, they controlled the banks which could withhold loans and most important of all, they could manipulate international public opinion.

So to my mind there can be no doubt that he who paid the pipers lived in the West and more particularly in the English-speaking West, because English has been the winner. Afrikaans and Afrikaners are gradually being reduced to an insignificant nonentity.

There remains a final nagging question. What role did South Afica;s intelligence community play in drawing up those pseudo declarations of Intent? And if they played no role, did they point out to their political masters that this whole exercise was rigged? One must assume that the declarations of intent would have been the subject of intense scrutiny by Dr. Niel Barnard. In his book he relates how his academic background gave him an advantage over former policemen when he was confronted with a problem:

“An advantage I had over many of my new colleagues is that policemen do not like writing. They want to charge around outside, catch the crooks and give them a hard time. They do not like evaluating events and information and to submit reports about it – that’s for rabbits. My academic inclination (ingesteldheid) to dissect things and to look at them from all angles and to put the result down on paper thus gave me an advantage: (p.19)”.

Ironically it so happened that a few years before Dr. Barnard joined the Department of National Security I (a former policeman) had been confronted with a situation where there had also been apparent co-operation between communists and anti-communists. I spent almost a year collecting all the facts and put them to paper in an unclassified report covering 330 pages. My conclusion read thus:

 “The lesson to be learned from these facts is that evaluators of international and even local politics should pay more attention to the ultimate source of the cash which makes political activity possible. Ideologies, professed or real, may, it seems, be largely ignored”, (The New African p.v.)

Which brings us back to the original question: Where did the cash come from?