Church of Sweden Mission, South Africa—Founder of the Swedish Fund for the Victims of Racial Oppression in South Africa—Chairman of the Swedish South Africa Committee—Member of the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance—Vice Chairman of the International Defence and Aid Fund
The interview was held by Tor Sellström in Västerås, 12 February 1996.
Tor Sellström: When and in what capacity did you go to South Africa?
Gunnar Helander: I volunteered in the mission, because I was a bachelor and I had no debts. I could go anywhere. I reported to the Swedish mission that I was willing to go anywhere and it was their decision that I should go to South Africa. They had a mission station there which was unoccupied and it was too bad, really, for a family. Emtulwa was the name of the place. It is not far from Pietermaritzburg. I said, all right, they could send me there. It was a terrible place. No telephone, no road, no post, no running water. You had nothing, except six green mambas living in the house. It had been unoccupied for ten years when I arrived there in 1938.
Not far from me lived an Indian who I had met in England. We were very good friends. We had studied a term together. He was in the room next to mine at a college in Birmingham. We were together all the time. We studied and played tennis together. He later became a professor in Durban. Now, when we tried to meet in South Africa—he lived about sixty kilometres from my place—everything was against our wish to be together. We could not go to a café together. We could not sit on the same bench in a park. He was a highly educated man. He was rich, too. His father was a businessman. A top fellow in every respect. He could not even go to a café with me because of apartheid. That made me furious about the apartheid laws. As an Indian he was a non-European and thus deprived of full citizenship.
I then started to look for resistance and found very little. I spoke to my fellow missionaries. They were sad about the way people were treated, but some of them thought that it was enough if we gave them schools and hospitals and taught them to be good and so on, but not necessarily extended franchise, because perhaps they were not ripe for it yet! I also contacted ANC. Luthuli was not yet President of ANC, but he was one of the important leaders in the movement. Some of the missionaries at the Natal Missionary Conference in Durban in 1941 then decided to elect him our chairman. We had these ecumenical conferences once a year. All the white missionaries, Catholics, Protestants and everybody. We decided on policy matters regarding schools and so on. At that time, perhaps 95 per cent of the schools for Africans were missionary schools.
Tor Sellström: So you were like an African Department of Education when you met at this annual conference?
Gunnar Helander: Yes, that was the main thing. I was on an advisory board which regularly met in Pietermaritzburg with the Education Department. We missionaries were grantees for the schools. The service came through us. Luthuli was engaged in the church even then. In the 1930s, he had attended the International Missionary Conference in Tambaram, India. He was delegate for South Africa together with the Archbishop of Cape Town and others. He was highly respected as a hereditary chief and also as a church leader. He was a Methodist. He was also trained as a teacher, but at the time of the missionary conference he was doing chief’s work. He was of royal origin and, of course, he opposed apartheid. It evoked some interest that he was elected chairman for all the white missionaries and we were criticized for it.
That was in 1941 and it was the first contact. We met him as a church leader, but he was also an ANC leader. We had contacts with ANC now and then. I was on the board of the Institute of Race Relations together with Luthuli. It was a sort of government board where people of different churches and other institutions met to discuss race questions. They did not listen to us, but it was a forum where we could complain even if nothing happened. I also tried to write to the Swedish newspapers, but they did not believe that an ally of Britain which was fighting against Nazi-Germany could be racist. My articles were sent back.
Tor Sellström: Did you write to the Swedish Church or to the Swedish newspapers?
Gunnar Helander: I wrote to the newspapers, but it was noticed by the church. I had one article published in some smaller paper. They noticed it and warned me that I was spoiling the cause of the mission if I angered the South African authorities. I should shut up!
Tor Sellström: When was this?
Gunnar Helander: Somewhere around 1941.
Tor Sellström: Was that warning from the Church of Sweden Mission?
Gunnar Helander: It was from the Mission Director, yes. He said that I did not understand the black people. The white people who lived in South Africa knew the natives and I should listen to them!
Tor Sellström: How about your Norwegian brothers in the missionary field?
Gunnar Helander: They were very much politically involved for England during the war against Germany for natural reasons. They thought of Norway and the occupation and had so much interest in what happened there that it was difficult to make them think of anything but the liberation of Norway.
I was transferred to Johannesburg in 1950 and there I found many Jews who were very liberal. They were not Nazis for obvious reasons. Some had fled from Germany. One of them, Dr Simon, was the chairman of the Humanistic League in Johannesburg. That was the group I could deal with and speak freely to.
Tor Sellström: Having taken a stand against apartheid, I guess that you were subjected to the interest of the South African authorities?
Gunnar Helander: Yes. In 1944, I took over a mission farm called Oscarsberg. A big one, ten kilometres long with a lot of people living there. People loved to move there, because they were free when they came to us. They could have any
Liberation in Southern Africa—Regional and Swedish Voices
occupation they wanted. Otherwise, their only choice was to work for farmers, mostly Boers living nearby. They were very ill-treated, underpaid and sometimes flogged by their masters. When I came there, I took in quite a lot of people and my Boer neighbours were furious. They came in a big gathering to the magistrate. His name was Campbell, an Englishman. They said that I was a Communist. I was a dangerous fellow, trying to incite the natives to rebellion and what not. I should be expelled from the country. Campbell promised to investigate the question. It so happened that Campbell did not like the Boers at all. He was very British and he and I played chess together. So, he arrived at our mission station and said: ‘I need to investigate: Are you a Communist, a terrible, dangerous revolutionary?’—‘No.’—‘Well, I thought so. Let us play chess.’ He saved me that time, but later on it was touch and go that I was expelled.
At Emtulwa there were mostly German farmers. They were slightly more decent to the natives. I married a German girl. She had never shaken hands or had a meal with a native before, but now she had to do that. We did not marry for political, but only for natural reasons. But she turned like that and said: ‘It is all wrong what we have been learning in the schools; that the natives are stupid and uncultured and all that.’ We had a black neighbour, a priest, whom we mixed with. He came to have meals with us now and then. She became quite changed, was caught onto my side and got her relatives against her. It was a difficult situation. Not terribly difficult, but, anyway, we did not talk politics with them.
Tor Sellström: If you look at the Swedish Church and the mission there must have been a contradiction when it comes to politics. On the one hand, you had a strong pietistic tradition in the church. On the other, the mission was established by an Act of Parliament. It was part of the state and most of the missionaries were academics?
Gunnar Helander: Well, we did not have much of pietism in the Church of Sweden Mission in South Africa. It was more obvious among the free churches. They had a more outspoken line: ‘Stop polygamy; stop the natives from drinking beer; teach them to say hallelujah. And teach them to be obedient to the white man and thankful for the good white cabinet we have’. We did not have that outspoken line in the Swedish mission, but more of a careful line. Doubts about the natives’ ability to rule themselves.
Tor Sellström: Paternalism?
Gunnar Helander: Yes, paternalism. You can have pets and treat them very well. Like you do with dogs. But you do not want a dog to vote. There were other missionaries, like professor Åke Holm-berg. He was a teacher at Umpumulo Teachers’ College and he was wholly and fully against apartheid. And Magnus Danell. He even let one native boy live like a child in the house. So there was a cleft in the mission, but one could not oppose very openly. The newspapers would not publish anything against apartheid, not much anyway. It would have been possible to get something into The Star in Johannesburg, but one had to be careful. There was a new law that said that if a missionary opposed the government, it would be possible to confiscate the church, the school and the buildings where he was working. That law came in 1952. One had to be a bit careful. Also, I could not buy a bit of land to build a school or a clinic if I openly opposed apartheid when I spoke to my white neighbours. I had to listen. I was furious, but I had to listen to their nonsense until I signed the contract to buy the land or whatever it was.
Tor Sellström: Is this the reason why you chose to express your opposition to apartheid through writings in the form of novels?
Gunnar Helander: Well, the first was a book for teaching students in theology. That was in Zulu. My first novel was in 1949, Zulu Meets the White Man, where I expressed my opinion. Then the Swedish newspapers gradually came to accept my articles. I wrote regularly in Göteborgs Handels-och Sjöfartstidning in Gothenburg. That was observed by Herbert Tingsten, who came down to South Africa. He wrote to the mission that they should ask me to receive him and give him all the information he wanted. He came in 1953 and wrote about the mission and about apartheid. Great articles. He praised the mission, although he was an atheist. Ivar Harrie had done that already in 1949 and that changed the opinion in Sweden.
Tor Sellström: You were then declared persona non grata by the South African government?
Gunnar Helander: Yes, but they did not want to arrest me, because I was a Swedish citizen. They knew that I was well known in Sweden and they did not want publicity. At one time I met Piet Mairing, Chief Information Officer in the Malan government, and he said in his Boer English: ‘Mr Helander, this is a free country and you are of course allowed to express any views you want to, but we are getting tired of you and your criticism. We do not like your books’. I said: ‘Well, Sir, I only try to speak the truth and tell people what I see.’—‘Yes, but you are so negative. We do not like you and I warn you. We are not going to tolerate this any more’.
In 1956, I went home on holiday. I took a chance, because one had to get a return visa from the legation in Stockholm. But they did not want an open conflict. I also wrote in English newspapers sometimes and my books had been published in English during the 1950s. In 1957, I applied for a visa to go back to South Africa. It was refused, so I had to stay. I then worked for the anti-apartheid movement in Sweden almost every day.
Tor Sellström: In South Africa, were you in contact with church people involved in anti-apartheid activities or support to the black community, like Trevor Huddleston?
Gunnar Helander: Oh, yes. Trevor and I were very good friends. He stayed not far from the place where I lived in Sophiatown. He built the first swimming-pool for black people in South Africa. The white people had swimming pools all over the place. The Anglican Church and the Church of Sweden are very much alike. We had much in common. There were protests when they destroyed Sophiatown and took it away from the natives. Tingsten and I had been to see Dr A.B. Xuma, who lived there. He was one of the ANC leaders. I met him several times and I took Tingsten to meet him in Sophiatown. He had quite a fine villa, which was confiscated. He was chased out. He stayed only a hundred yards from my place in Doornfontein. He did not live there, but he had his clinic there.
Tor Sellström: So when Tingsten was in South Africa he actually met leaders from ANC?
Gunnar Helander: Yes, he met Xuma at least. I do not know if he met anybody else. I do not think so.
Tor Sellström: When you came back to Sweden in 1956, how did you find the Swedish opinion compared to when you left?
Gunnar Helander: It had changed very much. People phoned me from everywhere, asking me to come and speak about apartheid. Folk high schools, university clubs, churches and so on. Social Democratic and Liberal organizations asked me to come and speak. I gave a tremendous lot of speeches, sometimes two a day.
Tor Sellström: At that time, ‘Pik’ Botha served in the South African legation in Stockholm. In an interview, he said that it was a very sudden introduction to a critical and hostile world. He mentioned yourself, Harrie and Tingsten as opinion makers around South Africa and apartheid. Did you have any contacts with ‘Pik’ Botha when he was in Sweden? Was he active in the debate?
Gunnar Helander: No, no. But there was another. I think that his name actually was Malan. He was senior. They wrote articles. There was one paper which was on their side, Nordvästra Skånes Tidningar, which almost daily persecuted me in its editorials.
Tor Sellström: Who wrote these articles? Journalists?
Gunnar Helander: Yes, local journalists, but they could also use articles from the South African legation. Actually, the legation spread stencilled papers in my congregation in Karlskoga. I was a vicar in Karlskoga from 1958, when I could not go back to South Africa. They got the addresses through the telephone directory. They sent out a lot of papers saying that I was a Communist. I was employed by the Soviet Union to undermine the white Christian civilisation in South Africa, and so on. They tried to make life difficult for me, but I sent the papers to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and they spoke to the South African government. The ministry gave them a good telling off and they stopped it. I do not think that anybody believed them in Karlskoga, but they did their best.
Tor Sellström: When the South Africans raised the question of the Sami in Norway and Sweden in the United Nations, one of the newspapers that they were quoting was Nordvästra Skånes Tidningar .
Gunnar Helander: Oh, yes. That is right. They were on their side. And Missionsbaneret or whatever it was called. I think that it was a weekly, published by the Holiness Union Mission. They also wrote articles. Not so crude, but anyway. They were on the South African side.
Tor Sellström: After you had been in Sweden some years, Chief Luthuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I understand that you were involved in that?
Gunnar Helander: Yes, I had thought of it and found it a jolly good idea. My friend Olof Tandberg, the Foreign Secretary in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and I spoke about what we could do for South Africa. He had been to South Africa a short time, but the authorities stopped him from working there. He said: ‘I think that Luthuli should have the Nobel Peace Prize’. I said that it was a brilliant idea and asked if I could speak on the radio. They let me do so. I also wrote articles, first in Handelstidningen and later in other newspapers, and I gave speeches. I also wrote to Evert Svensson, a member of parliament, because we had to have a MP to put a formal proposal to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Svensson was a Social Democrat and a member of Broderskapsrörelsen (The Brotherhood Movement).
Tor Sellström: You were also one of the founders of the South Africa Committee in 1961?
Gunnar Helander: Yes, and I proposed that Joachim Israel should be the chairman. I became the chairman after him. But we had also formed another committee in 1959. That was the Defence and Aid Committee in Sweden. I was the chairman and Per Wästberg and Eyvind Johnson, who in 1974 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature together with Harry Martinsson, were founding members. At first we were only three. All three of us had to sign the remittances to the Defence and Aid Fund in London. In the beginning, it received small donations through church and street collections and things like that. Later SIDA started to send money. We then enlarged the committee and ambassador Ernst Michanek, Anna-Lena Wästberg and Olof Tandberg were included in the Swedish Defence and Aid Committee.
I was also vice-chairman of the International Defence and Aid Fund in London for many years. Sweden gave as much as all other countries put together to IDAF.
Tor Sellström: How many IDAF correspondents did you then have in Sweden?
Gunnar Helander: We had at least five or six in Sweden at that time. Also in Norway, where we had Kari Storhaug and her husband. Anna-Lena Wästberg and several others were in Sweden. We tried to keep it as secret as possible and would not tell each other about those things unnecessarily. We kept it secret. It was very confidential. But, of course, we had our enemies, such as Lars-Gunnar Eriksson, a Swedish fellow. He was a traitor. He worked for the South African racist government, in their interest, and for Craig Williamson, who was a spy for the secret service in South Africa. Eriksson tried to get things out of me. He phoned me and said that he was interested in Defence and Aid, that he had many contacts and that he wanted to know how we sent the money out. I said: ‘I know nothing. Nothing!’ But he said: ‘I want to get in touch with Canon Collins. We could work very nicely together. We also have some money that we could send through you.’ I said: ‘We do not do anything. We know nothing!’
Tor Sellström: What could they contribute?
Gunnar Helander: Well, they said that they had many contacts, that they knew people in South Africa and that they had their sources of money. The Social Democratic Party in Sweden sent them money. So did the Swedish students’ organizations. They used Lars-Gunnar Eriksson as a channel. I am sure that monies went to the other side, to the South African secret service or whatever. They tried to get into IDAF, but they never managed. Then there was a burglary in London. The South African secret service was seen there. Those who were from South Africa recognized them. The Defence and Aid office was broken into, but they did not find any papers, because they were hidden at another place. I know that they got hold of one fellow who squealed about something, so one of our agents in South Africa was arrested when he was going to the family of a black prisoner. He was jailed. I do not know his name, but I know that there was one who they caught. Otherwise they did not catch us down there. But they did terrible things. Ruth First, who was one of our workers, was killed by a letter bomb in Maputo.
Tor Sellström: When you started campaigning in Sweden, in what sectors did the solidarity for South Africa find support?
Gunnar Helander: Well, it was among the students, of course. We held many demonstrations. We travelled and talked in Jönköping, Sundsvall and what not. Of course, the political organizations, Social Democrats, Liberals and also the Centre Party were very much on our side. Many clergymen were also on our side. Perhaps the audiences were not always on my side, but most of them were and when they heard about how the natives were treated they were horrified and made donations. The Church of Sweden made official collections for the Defence and Aid Fund.
Tor Sellström: For your Swedish Defence and Aid Committee or IDAF?
Gunnar Helander: Both. All the money that we got went through us to London. We did not use any money. We worked through IDAF. When SIDA came in, it was useless to stand on the street corners and collect a hundred Kronor a day. We only had to tell SIDA: ‘We need another million, or ten’. What we worked for was a boycott against South Africa. To make the Swedish government boycott South Africa.
Tor Sellström: You were very critical of the non-action by the Swedish government. You wrote in Örebrokuriren in 1966 and talked about South Africa as our ‘ideological lap-dog’, an ideological little pet that you could feel sorry for, but that you did not do anything for in practical terms. There was a Social Democratic government in Sweden at that time. Do you think that there was a generation gap between people like Palme and Schori and the old guard under Prime Minister Erlander?
Gunnar Helander: I knew Erlander very well. I was not a member of any political party, but at a demonstration in Örebro in 1965 Erlander and I marched together with Oliver Tambo, who was giving a speech which I should translate. I had lunch with Erlander. He was very friendly and understanding. Palme was quite different: ‘We shall not postpone; we shall not be the last ones; we should go out fully.’ Yes, there was a change of generations. Erlander was friendly and understanding, but he was not fiery.
Tor Sellström: Your criticism in that article was very heavy against the government of the day.
Gunnar Helander: Yes. I thought that they did not do anything about the boycott.
Tor Sellström: What do you think made Palme involved in Southern Africa?
Gunnar Helander: Well, he was very radical in every respect. As soon as he saw that something in his opinion was wrong, he did something about it. He called them names, you know. He was like that. In every respect. Cuba, Vietnam etc. I did not always agree with him, but he caught on to the African issue straight away.
Tor Sellström: In the early 1960s, the first refugees from South West Africa and South Africa came to Sweden, people like Zed Ngavirue and Billy Modise. There were also the first visits by Oliver Tambo. Did you involve these people in your work?
Gunnar Helander: Well, I met Oliver Tambo, of course, and Billy Modise. I met Tambo every time I went to London. I went there twice a year. Tambo was also in Sweden quite often. When he fell ill he was taken to Ersta Hospital in Stockholm. We were quite friendly. We went hand in hand in the South African way. It sounds funny in Sweden. You might suspect something wrong, but the South Africans do that!
Tor Sellström: In December 1961, ANC launched the armed struggle together with the South African Communist Party. This introduced two new dimensions, the armed struggle and a closer alliance with the Communist Party. How did you look upon this?
Gunnar Helander: I had no objection. I admired Luthuli and his line had been ‘violence under no circumstances’. That is why he could be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. That was the main thing. But later he said: ‘I have been knocking on a closed door for year after year. I could not use violence myself, but I cannot any longer condemn those who advocate the use of violence. I agreed with that. You had to defend yourself. The whites used violence all the time and I think that it was right to use violence to defend yourself. It did not horrify me at all. I very much remember that Mandela never advocated violence against persons. It was only sabotage against buildings and railways and things like that.
Of course, I disapprove of Communism, but I had known many Communists in South Africa and they were not Stalinists. They were like the Swedish Communists. You could have them in furnished rooms, but I could not possibly vote for them. I asked Luthuli and he said: ‘I would ally with the devil himself if that could help.’ I also said so to Malan at the South African legation in Stockholm. I said that ‘I am against Communism altogether, but it is a bit better than your form of racism’. He probably used that against me. I think that Communism in South Africa is not of the dangerous type.
Tor Sellström: You were leading the solidarity movement and at a certain point ANC launched the armed struggle within a closer alliance with the Communist Party. Did that affect the solidarity work and the response by the people in Sweden?
Gunnar Helander: Not at all. Of course, it was used by our opponents. They said: ‘What about the Communists?’ I said that ‘they are a minority and they will not dominate. ANC is not a political party. It is a movement with one single goal, namely to eliminate racism. They would use anybody, even Communists. But the Commu nists that I have seen in South Africa are not violent’. I cannot imagine old Alfred Nzo, for instance, sending people to concentration camps or anything like that. Or Joe Slovo. No, I did not worry about that.
Tor Sellström: In 1969, the Swedish Parliament paved the way for direct official Swedish support to the liberation movements in the Portuguese territories, Rhodesia, South West Africa and South Africa. In the case of South Africa, the support was from the beginning of the 1970s channelled by SIDA to ANC. Why did Sweden not support PAC too?
Gunnar Helander: I found PAC a bit racist, black racist. They did not want to have any white members, really. ANC was absolutely neutral when it came to colour. Indian, white or black. Of course, 95 per cent of the members were blacks, but still. PAC was not neutral. If we strove for a South Africa as Luthuli and Mandela wanted it—where all people would work together irrespective of colour—I did not think that PAC was the thing to support.
Tor Sellström: PAC was strongly anti-Communist. Swedish policies were also anti-Communist and very critical of the Soviet Union, which supported ANC. Still, Sweden put all its eggs in the ANC basket. Why was not part of the support given to PAC?
Gunnar Helander: In the Defence and Aid Fund we did not like PAC very much. Canon Collins did not like it and I did not, because they had made some expressions of a racist character. I did not think that it was the right thing to work for.
I was against Communism, but apartheid was so big for me. It was bigger than anything else and anybody who fought against it was my ally. I had no reason to look for faults in those who fought against apartheid. And I thought for myself that when it comes to a free election, the Communists will be very unimportant in South Africa. We have a strong leadership. Those at the top were never Communists. Luthuli was not, nor was Oliver Tambo or Mandela. Joe Slovo was nearest to the top, but the main stream was democratic or social democratic. The fact that they had some Communists in ANC was not enough to condemn it.
I have five children and I suppose that they look left or right. One daughter was very engaged in the Cabora Bassa question. She still votes Communist, although she is churchgoing and a capitalist. It is an old habit. It does not worry me, really. I could not possibly vote for racism, but I can, theoretically, understand the Communist idea. That people should own everything and so on. Theoretically, it is not against Christianity. Obviously, the way in which it formed Eastern Europe is terrible, but theoretically it is not wrong.
Tor Sellström: In South Africa it is quite common that people are both Communist and Christian?
Gunnar Helander: Oh, yes.
Tor Sellström: All the Southern African liberation movements that Sweden supported were close to the Soviet Union and they all waged an armed struggle. Did you discuss that in the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance?
Gunnar Helander: No, we did not. We were not scared about that. I think that all of us were so dominated by the question of quenching apartheid. That was so important that we did not care who our ally was.
Tor Sellström: Another question that comes to mind is, of course, the question of Inkhata and Gatsha Buthelezi. He had a close relationship with the Church of Sweden Mission, did he not?
Gunnar Helander: Yes. I know Buthelezi very well. He stayed with me here in Västerås. He is a scoundrel. But Ernst Michanek believed in Buthelezi. He thought that it was possible to talk to Buthelezi and Buthelezi put pressure on him. Buthelezi said that he was a good Christian, which he is not, indeed. Anyway, Michanek thought that we should arrange a meeting between Tambo and Buthelezi so that they perhaps could be reconciled and stop this strife in South Africa. He phoned me and said that this must be done secretly. ‘We cannot do it in Stockholm. We want somewhere out in the country, a quiet place. What about your home?’ I then lived in the dean’s house. We had 600 m2, so I said: ‘OK. Certainly, Buthelezi and his ministers can stay with us’. He was here for a few days, perhaps a week.
Tor Sellström: Do you remember what year that was?
Gunnar Helander: It must have been around 1978. He came with three of his ministers. A journalist leaked it to the radio. Then Oliver Tambo did not dare to come, because he would be considered a traitor if he met Buthelezi on friendly terms. So, he left. Buthelezi felt that he had some sort of obligation to my wife and myself, so in 1991 when I for the first time in 35 years was allowed back to South Africa he invited me and my wife to come and stay with him for a couple of days as his guests, not in his home, but in a hotel of which he was a director in Ulundi. We had lunch with de Klerk and the Zulu king and two of the Zulu king’s wives. This was when the Zulu parliament opened. De Klerk was speaking there. I met him and King Zwelithini, who is a silly young boy. He can tell left from right, but that is all he can do. I had met Buthelezi on some other occasion in Sweden and I understood that it was impossible to trust that fellow. He is hungry for power. You cannot trust his word. He is as sly as a fox. He wants all the money he can get from Pretoria and he would want to be a real king. I do not like him. I do not trust him at all.
Tor Sellström: When he was with you here in Västerås, how did he look upon Sweden’s involvement in Southern Africa?
Gunnar Helander: We did not speak much about that, really. I did not know him well enough to suspect that he was not on our side. I thought that it was obvious that a black man should like our involvement against apartheid. He did not speak much about that. He probably avoided it. I heard about his traitorous movements afterwards. He advocated that there should be no boycott against South Africa and so on. No, we did not speak about that. I speak Zulu and we had a lot of fun, talking about old habits, Zululand and what not.
Tor Sellström: When you were on the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance, at some stage you also participated in official negotiations between Sweden and ANC. Were you satisfied with the way in which the Swedish funds were utilized?
Gunnar Helander: I do not know how the ANC money was used, although, of course, I read the reports about the schools in Tanzania, the Zambian farms and so on. However, I am satisfied that the money that went through IDAF was used very, very well. We had some small conflicts with Collins. He was a bit too generous to people who had fled from South Africa, also supporting them in England. Otherwise, I am definitely sure that the money was used very well.
Tor Sellström: Are you also satisfied that the Swedish support was used for humanitarian, civilian purposes and not for the military struggle?
Gunnar Helander: I have not heard of any incidents where it was used for military purposes. I do not think so. I really do not think that it was used for anything like that. I am almost sure.
Tor Sellström: Humanitarian support is also support for human rights. In the liberation movements there were instances of internal strife and abuse. I am thinking of the so-called Shipanga affair in SWAPO in Zambia in the late 1970s and also of both ANC and SWAPO in Angola in the 1980s. Do you know if the Swedish government discussed this? Did the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance recommend that this should be discussed with Tambo and Nujoma?
Gunnar Helander: I heard that Nujoma—who I also met— and Tambo, all the leaders, were against this and had strongly criticized those who had done these things. That was enough for us. Of course, you always have such garbage in every movement, but it was not so serious that it was necessary to take it up with the government.
Tor Sellström: Do you know of any pressures by the USA, Great Britain or others on Sweden to stop the support to the liberation movements?
Gunnar Helander: I do not know of any pressures, but I know that all that we did in the Defence and Aid Fund was strongly opposed by the British government. We did not ever get a penny from them. They were against all that we did. Of course, now they try to take some credit for what they did not do. The US government too. They were more sympathetic in the USA, but not enough. We were quite unique, but I was really amused when I saw that the former conservative Minister for Foreign Affairs, Margaretha af Ugglas, went to South Africa and took credit for things she had opposed the whole time. She was on the SIDA board, but voted against everything that had anything to do with South Africa.
Tor Sellström: In terms of political currents, would it then be fair to say that it was Liberals and Social Democrats that carried the solidarity movement in Sweden?
Gunnar Helander: Yes, there is no doubt about that.
Tor Sellström: And the Centre Party?
Gunnar Helander: They were very sympathetic.
Tor Sellström: As well as the Communist Party?
Gunnar Helander: Yes, of course. But we never dealt with them in Sweden. We never had anything to do with the Communists. We had to draw the line somewhere.
Tor Sellström: So, those who were opposed were in the Moderate Party?
Gunnar Helander: Yes, and, of course, the industrial leaders.