This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
ANC NWC Meeting March 25
MINUTES OF N.W.C. MEETING 25/03/87
Present : OR; SG; Dan Tloome; Zuma; Jele; Stuart; Johnny Makathini; Nhlanhla; Mongalo; Cassius; Meli; John Nkadimeng; Makana; Ruth Mompati; Stephen Dlamini; Mkagothi, Pallo; Hani.
Report of the NEC Commission on Prisoner Exchange
The report was circulated at the meeting because of its great sensitivity and read by Comrade Makgothi. Cde Chris explained that owing to Thabo's absence from HQ, the Commission had not worked at full strength. He and Cde Siza were the effective members of the commission.
Further explanation was offered that Commission had met Cde Mac who has had discussions with the representative of the Duth government about the Claus de Jonge affair. The Dutch government, according to Mac, to secure the release of De Jonge. Mac suggested to them that De Jonge should be part of a package in exchange for Du Toit. This will require that we enter into discussions with the Angolans to secure their cooperation.
We should at the same time consider the cdes under sentence of death as part of such a package.
Lastly, the portion of the report dealing with amnesty for prison inmates (32), we should consider the immediate transfer of five of the six women incarcerated there.
SG : We should also participate in the Claus de Jonge discussions (between Angola and Dutch) to ensure that he is part of such a package.
Zuma : Are we considering some of the Coetzee group for exchange?
SG : None of those proposed for amnesty are part of the Coetzee group.
Johnny M : We should consider the other overtures we have made on Du Toit to the Angolans. We have even involved Jesse Jackson in approaches to the regime's men in Washington. We should consider that we reactivate Jesse Jackson on this issue.
I agree with Chris, the conditions at 32 are unbearable.
Zuma : If we agree in principle, I would say we need to identify the steps we shall have to take. We must consider the propaganda value of such an exercise; weigh up the people we have under arrest and the forces we could marshall to employ in such an exercise.
Chris : I suggest that time is of the essence. Our people have the impression that we are the receiving end of arrests but this can serve as a morale booster demonstrating that we too can arrest the regime's agents. We shall need to take some of the Presidents in the region, KK and Dos Santos, to let them know our thinking on this matter.
O.R. : We've proposed that SG goes to the West to discuss with dos Santos about Du Toit. We should now formally say we will place a package including de Jonge before Dos Santos. It may of course happen that the Angolans have their own proposals from among their own people whom they wish to exchange for du Toit.
I shall be seeing KK today. But we need a comprehensive list of those awaiting execution. It will be here tomorrow. Also those sentenced to life.
I don't think Jesse Jackson is the best suited for this kind of deal. We need someone who appears 'neutral'. The regime is likely to keep quiet about the matter until after the election to avoid their supporters knowing that they are dealing with us. But it is proper that the regime receives word from us before we go to the press.
SG : In particular, the package we are offering in exchange for du Toit.
Pallo : Are we not pitching it too high? We are placing before them a list of at least fourteen people awaiting execution, in exchange for four of theirs. What makes us think the enemy will go for such an unequal bargain. Besides, what cards are we holding against the enemy who not only has more of our people but is ready to execute them? Where do we go after he dismisses the first approaches?
SG : Let us agree that we want to release our comrades. That is the issue.
Zuma : The political point is that we too are capable of capturing the regime's agents as much as the regime captures us. But we also want to demonstrate our moral superiority, we want to exchange not execute.
Nhlanhla : This is concrete follow up of the January 8th statement. We are taking the initiative to demonstrate the ANC's humaneness. I think the political climate will make the enemy deal. On the Black agents, it will be good if the enemy is only prepared to deal about its White agents it will have shown them in practice that it counts them as nothing.
Stuart : I agree with Zuma and Nhlanhla. We want all our people released. We should be clear about what we want and must work out the steps we want to take. Therefore we must establish contact with the regime. Second step will be quiet pressure. We can't immediately go to the press. Premature press exposure might jeopardize the whole exercise.
Chris : We are not engaged in quiet diplomacy. If the enemy delays we must go public in order to embarrass him in front of his supporters.
Cassius : I think it is a very involved question and will take time. The question is what will we say if the enemy says they will go ahead with the executions. We must anticipate that sort of response. The go betweens will also want to know what we will say in that event. Secondly the enemy might also want to present his own list of agents he wants released. It may happen that some of them are no longer with us. We must be ready with a response to that too.
Nkadimeng : If we act at the time of the elections I think they will have to react. I don't think we should separate out the political considerations from the objective, to release our cdes; the two must be seen together.
Johnny M : I agree that Jesse is not the best person to do this one. But we will have to warn him to lay off the question. Secondly we must simultaneously mount a campaign to renew the pressure for the release of Mandela and other political prisoners to pre-empt our detractors who will be too pleased to say we want to keep them in jail. Thirdly, we must begin now the process of video-taping the confessions of the agents.
O.R. : We should anticipate that the enemy's first response will be to attempt a rescue operation. We must therefore take steps to preempt such an attempt by moving the captives so that they will not be where the enemy expects them to be.
Chris : What about the external forces we speak to Botha and also speak to us? Can't they be used as go betweens? We must explore such possibilities.
Johnny M : I would suggest we use H.W. van der Merwe of UCT as the initial contact, then follow up with a neutral government.
Nhlanhla : Internal forces will also help generate pressure.
Ruth : Why do we need a government if we are using internal forces?
Pallo : I would support Cde Johnny's suggestion that we use van der Merwe to sound out, but follow up with a government. Botha repudiated van der Merwe last time. He could do likewise on this occasion. We must avoid that because it's not easy to say the Foreign Minister of another country is lying.
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At this point a number of suggestions were put forward. It was finally agreed that we should approach the following governments:
The meeting agreed that we must take the steps set out below to set the whole process in motion.
(i) Initiate compilation of the list of prisoners in our hands and the captives in regimes hands we want to exchange.
(ii) SG shall travel to Angola to discuss with Dos Santos the package proposals and brief them on the entire initiative.
(iii) DIP shall set up a video-unit and radio unit, vetted by NAT, who shall be responsible for recording the confessions and other materials.
(iv) Initiate contact with H.W. van der Merwe when all the preparations are in place.
(v) After ensuring van der Merwe has had sufficient time to convey message to Botha, we initiate contact with Belgian government.
(vi) Second track of initiative if Belgian response is negative – contact French government.
It was agreed that Commissar and his commission will complete list of possible candidates for amnesty and that five of the six women in 32 shall be transferred to a new centre.