A lot has been said about Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's views about her former husband and comrade's causal actions in the negotiations. I will thus start this article by declaring boldly that Mandela plus other leaders at the time let Black people down with all the compromises that the ANC eventually entered into or by succumbing to undue pressure which was exerted on him whilst he was on Robben Island and later Victor Verster prisons.
The late Mr Reginald Oliver Tambo had warned against holding negotiations in South Africa and had actually preferred a neutral territory e.g. Zimbabwe. It was as if OR (as Tambo was affectionately known in exile and locally) knew that the apartheid government would employ university professors of psychology, trained National Intelligence Services agents/operatives and many others experts as negotiators who would later use clandestine tactics in order to weaken and break-down the resolute Mandela's psych.
In the end, that is exactly what happened and Mandela was tricked into taking a soft approach towards his incarcerators. Instead of heeding OR's advice, Mandela conducted the preliminary negotiations in Robben Island and this so peeved the late Govan Mbeki that at one stage they were not in speaking terms. Dr Mandela did of course write a letter to OR informing him about these developments whilst he was in prison. The existence of these negotiations has been confirmed by three independent people namely Ahmed Kathrada, Professor Vladimir Shubin and Mr Riaan Labuschagne although the former two gentlemen may not share my sentiments on his letting the struggle down.
It is public knowledge that Mr Kathrada was in prison for many years with Mandela and he recently took former president Thabo Mbeki to task for ignoring Mandela's role in negotiations whilst in prison. He penned a hard hitting article which appeared in the Sunday Independent newspaper wherein he refuted Mbeki's claim to having been the one who started the negotiations. Although this latter point is debatable but that is a subject for another day, suffice to say that in Mbeki's case he started negotiations with the Afrikaners as far back as 1986, without even OR's knowledge. Mandela met former president Piet Botha on 5 July 1989 in which meeting the latter asked him to distance himself from the SACP and renounce the armed struggle.
In his response wrote thus, "we consider the armed struggle a legitimate form of self defence against a morally repugnant system of government which would not allow even peaceful forms of protest. It is more than ironical that it should be (the apartheid) government which demands that we renounce violence. The government knows only too well that there is not a single political organisation in this country inside or outside parliament which can ever compare with the ANC in its total commitment to peaceful change".
I have previously quoted Dr Mandela's response after that meeting in relation to the SACP therefore I will not go into that subject for now. Mr Labuschagne is a former NIS operative who worked with Dr Niel Barnard (then a Director-General of the NIS) who was incidentally present at the ANC's Kabwe Conference in 1985. He had infiltrated the ANC, purporting to be a journalist and has since written a book about his sojourn entitled "On South African Secret Service". He has documentary proof of his engagement with the NIS including photographs to back up his claims.