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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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 Jan 11
AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL
PO BOX 31791
MINUTES OF MEETING OF NWC
HELD ON WEDNESDAY 11/01/89 AT 09:00 HOURS
PRESENT: ORT., A. NZO, R. SEPT., J. STUART, J. NHL., S. MF., M. PIL., S. TSH., J. ZUMA, T. MB., D. TL., G. SH., JACQ. MOL., S. DL., H. MAKG., J.S., J. SEL., R. MOMP.
APOLOGIES: presented by S. Mf. on behalf of JM., P. Jordan, R. Manci, C.H.
IN THE CHAIR: ORT. opened meeting and said inter alia, I think we have had a successful year within limits. We were successful to the extent that we scored some clear historic victories, and now we have to see if we cannot do better this year. So it is pleasure for me to welcome you all and to express satisfaction that the year begins with so many of us around. We are of course, without many, including Johnny Makhathini, another fighter of long-standing, J. Gaetsiwe, a leader of long service, J. Motshabi, Hector Nkula, a great militant, Irene Mkwayi, many of these we have mentioned in our January 8th statement... Never in the history of our presence outside, except in circumstances of military conflict whether by mutiny or ambush have we sustained such heavy losses, and even in these (latter cases) the toll has been heavy. But in this region of Lusaka I can't recall when we lost so many in such a short period of time... But we must reward their services in continued and determined struggle.
We have not decided when the NEC meeting will take place, our machine is not moving as it should; there are lapses; supervision is lacking and cohesion is not good; so we will need to pull ourselves together. And one thing that would help is that someone in the NEC, the Secretary General certainly, should know where each NEC !renter is at any given time, and (of) those who are away it should be known when (they should be) expected and if there are delays we should be warned in advance.
Next year the National Consultative Conference will be sitting, we will not postpone it. So we have +18 months to do what we have been doing since 1985. Also we need to prepare and to start early; the year tends to be short, no sooner started that it is over. So NEC will have to start early (preparing); and I propose that this should be subject of the next (meeting of NWC).
In part I have spoken about those who have laid down their lives in the course of struggle, let us rise and pay tribute to them in a minute of silence.
(MEETING ROSE AND OBSERVED MINUTE OF SILENCE. FOLLOWED BY SINGING OF NATIONAL ANTHEM].
AGENDA: ORT. said this is a special meeting and minutes would not be read. There is only one item on the agenda: a report of a delegation which was to meet comrades who are from home, and whom we had to meet in Stockholm, comrades M. Morobe and M. Valli. This special meeting will receive a report,. preparatory to meet these comrades', welcoming them (as) the leaders of the UDF and we thought it proper they should be received by the NEC, and ask them to give us what briefing they would like to give. I don't know if they are not entitled to one from us. They may have questions to raise but we are meeting to welcome them.
[At this point R. Momp. interrupted to point out that a meeting of the AAI was in progress and would discuss that morning response of US to conflicts in Africa. There was no body from NEC at meeting.]
We should take that into account... In the afternoon they will discuss how the US views Africa etc. and what Africa expects of US. So the region will be discussed to-day... We need to have someone there so that our place is not vacant when Africa is discussed.
T. MB:_ By the time we got there (Sweden), a whole program had been drawn up so we did not have time (with the comrades) outside.
When they had explained about the situation inside we thought they should attend the AAI conference so that we could have extended tine: They had raised:
1. Issue of their profile: Since their goal/escape they have high visibility and regime is in difficulties regarding their arrest. That profile should be maintained to enable them to continue with their work. While in consulate they had applied for passports which they got unexpectedly; they are valid for US. Their coming out was connected with further reinforcing their profile so that if Botha decided to act against them, strong voices would be raised. Arrangements had been made for them to go to Soviet Union, Holland; US, West Germany, Japan were also on the itinerary; and were due to meet the Holland Foreign Minister. Presumably they would meet personalities who would strengthened their "protective shield."
2. What do they do in terms of permanent work in return? The UDF is banned, and that question has not been resolved and they think we should reflect on this.
3. Leadership of MDM characterised by immobility, Murphy Morobe describes it by saying it is as if they are stunned. The question of the UDF leadership has been looked at narrowly. There is in fact a broad leadership in the country which has an ANC orientation, but they act within narrow perimeters. In their view, (Morobe and Valli) the leadership should operate in such a style that they make an input in leading the MCM as a whole. That is the principal question they were attending: consolidation of the leadership. Diversity of views (individuals) should not lead to exclusion from the broad leadership.
[1. T. MB., JZ., R. MOMP. WERE RELEASED TO ATTEND AAI CONFERNCE.]
[2. J. STUART, JACQ.MOL. WERE INSTRUCTED TO LEAVE MEETING TO ATTEND RECEPTION FORMALITIES FOR ANC CCMRADES RELEASED FRCM UNITA CAPTIVITY AT LIBERATION CENTRE.]
S. TSH: supplemented report given by T. Mb. He had been instructed by PMC to raise three points.
1. Their (Morobe and Valli) new role: PMC was of view that they should assume leadership of underground in line with program for building underground.
2. They should be wary in Europe about exposing their ANC connection. On questions of negotiations however, they should bring out centrality of ANC.
3. Natal carnage should be handled in a way which shows up Gatsha Buthelezi involvement in relation to high profile he enjoys.
In relation to underground proposal the two comrades appeared to be taken aback and expressed view that they considered themselves inadequate for the assignment. They had no difficulty in regard to other matters.
The NEC members had briefed them on the US/SA/Angola/Cuba talks leading to Namibian independence, peace in Angola and ANC positions' there anent.
Followed discussion on the report in which T. Nk., J. Nk., A. Nzo, R. Kas., J.S., JJ. participated making following points:
1. Stress need for development of underground with internal activists.
2. The views of comrades Morobe and Valli regarding "immobilisation" of UDF leadership and consolidation of the "Congress" leadership should be seriously considered.
3. The strategy underlying their decision to leave the country and travel abroad for purpose of raising their profile, and what work they would do on return which would give them capacity to continue to play a role.
ORT. summarised the discussions: The view is that in regard to any tasks that we may wish to give them in the underground we ourselves need to look at that more closely in subsequent greetings. The PMC should really do that... We should avoid giving them tasks that would get them into trouble even before they are ready...
[AT THIS POINT COMRADES MURPHY MOROBE AND MOHAMED VALLI WERE ADMITTED TO THE MEETING AND ORT. WELCOMED THEM].
"These are comrades whose work has been a source of inspiration to those of us who are denied the opportunity to grapple with the enemy at home on the ground... These were participants in the timely birth and development of the UDF. The UDF took the challenge (facing it) with great magnificence and set the country aflame in the 1985/86. Those of us who had lived through the '50's and witnessed intensity of the struggle leading to the Sharpeville and the armed struggle were seeing something new... As a result of that struggle, South Africa will never be the same again... They were in the thick of it all. We are honoured to welcome them to this meeting of the NWC of the NEC. Although a few have had to be excused, this is the bulk of the NEC membership and it is not always like this... I welcome you on behalf of the NEC in its entirety; on behalf of our members, cadres, soldiers of MK... We are indeed honoured to meet you. A few of our comrades met you in Stockholm and we received a report of that meeting and now you have the rest of the membership available at HQ...and in process of welcoming you to share your experience as you travelled outside.
Do you have any suggestions about what we should do to ensure success of your mission; to help build the 'protective shield' around you? The drama of your escape thrilled us just as it did everyone at home; it was an effective tactical move. We understand that part of your objective is to build round that tactic,... to have such a high level profile (through contacts) so that the enemy will continue to find it difficult to touch you..."
[ORT. THEN INTRODUCED NEC MEMBERS PRESENT AND HIS WORDS OF WELCOME WERE SECONDED AND SUPPORTED BY A. NZO; JS; J. NK.]
M. Valli responded: We are completely overwhelmed by the massive presence of the leadership... of course we know all of you, if not personally, (then) from report. We are glad to share with you some of the perceptions that we have. At Stockholm, it was agreed that we could take our discussions further here, and I will repeat part of those discussions.
There has been a meeting between UDF/COSATU/ANC in Harare, and you may have received reports, so we will confine ourselves to broad issues, and follow up to the anti-apartheid conference. There may be other matters which we would like to discuss outside (this meeting) e.g. relating to our tour, and the significance of the Delmas trial for mass work, etc...
Regarding our escape, even though we have been pushed into the limelight, there are heroes (in the background) who took the risks (for it) and we would like this noted, as we don't usually say that we did get help (for obvious reasons).
We were detained in mid 1987. During our detention we tried to remain in touch through smuggling in newspapers and letters so that we could get a general view of what was going on. We also had time to make assessments.
When in 1987 the regime took decision on municipal elections, they thought resistance would be so crushed that elections would succeed. The mass movement was seemingly at the decline and the emergency seemed to have paralysed activity giving rise to pessimism. We were concerned about the three day strike call thinking it would further weaken us; it was something we had not attempted even in the height of the UDF in 1985. We were mistaken. The three day stay-away was a decisive turning point, showing the failure of the state of emergency and the growth of the MDM in capacity to mobilise in the face of the machinery of oppression that had been turned on full blast.
The strike drew in people as far afield as Transkei, there was a big response in Natal in contrast to previous years' calls. Our release raised mood of expectation that we would move in to help solve problems in the UDF.
It seemed (to us) that in the course of 1987/88, cohesion among leaders of MDM had broken down to some extent so that people worked only in their own sectors. Without conscious decision, there was parochialism; people's vision was limited to what affected them immediately. Also, very few people felt they had authority... As a result there was no sharp edge to the MDM.
This was contradictory situation considering that the MDM had grown, and there were many skilled and capable people working in different organisations in different parts of the country.
The ANC has correctly analysed the crisis of the regime. The state of emergency is not working (as one would expect), fears of the N.S. management system were really exaggerated. In Tembisa, Alex, E. Cape Townships the JMCs still face problems.
Why are we unable to take advantage of the situation? The October elections showed a high level of consciousness; even if we didn't take initiatives, the crisis of the regime is going to deepen.
If we are able to organize a three day stay away boycott elections, all in the 3rd year of the emergency and amidst intense repression, we can't be that weak. The only conclusion would appear to be that we have a problem in leadership. High calibre leaders are not functioning as a leadership. Even in the preparation for Nelson Mandela's release, we found people were not working as close as we should expect; there is very little overall strategic thinking and planning. People are planning separately and this is not enough to bring about the breakthrough which is necessary at this time. Many people agree that the key problem is at that level...
Overall, we are optimistic about making advances; the teachers are uniting and may come up with union in 1989, the workers in industry are forging ahead etc.
We intend to bring the comrades together to think of the MDM as a pillar of the struggle so that each can find his role in the general struggle. This is the perspective that (we think) is lacking.
The UDF at this point in tine is not the entire MDM and it cannot have such a discussion (alone). We need to meet as people with a common allegiance, common perspective - this is the basis for going forward. We intend launching a campaign, large numbers culminating in a large "saamtrek" inside the country, a substantial extended conference looking systematically at the broad questions which face us with specific reference to mass work; we think this is what is necessary to achieve a breakthrough. We have people thinking about this already in Transvaal, Western Cape, Durban and Eastern Cape. We propose to move to a national gathering in stages, in the course (of which) we have to find answers to burning questions affecting the UDF. Our assessment is that many are looking for a breakthrough. All this has to take place outside our structures, and this is why the ANC becomes important.
We are reluctantly forced into playing a leading role in this process. If it is possible for us to survive openly and not go into hiding, we think we have a better chance. We are hoping not to be arrested so that we can take matters further.
Murphy Morobe supplemented: We were observing the progress of the anti-apartheid conference from inside, criticising the UDF as not being broad enough because we saw more and more elements breaking away from the orbit, of the regime. Even though conference was banned, it generated enthusiasm even outside UDF structures e.g. NACTU. We came to realise that when we talk about "broadening out" this meant finding new "bed fellows", we came to realise weakness in preparatory work being limited only to UDF/COSATU. We asked ourselves whether the timing (of conference) was correct. Many groups were pulled in only at last moment, and much appeared to have been taken for granted.
The Anti-Apartheid Conference is still being perceived as an important initiative, and it should provide a reliable springboard. What new ways are there for reviving the Anti-apartheid Conference? The important thing is not the venue or the date but the entire process leading up to it. Discussions need to begin with many who were on the periphery
Discussions ensued in which JS; R. Kas; A. Nzo; S. Tsh; T. Nk; Morobe and Valli participated.
O.R. TAMBO summarised the discussions: "Before I close, I thank Cdes Morobe and Valli for a good briefing; for new ideas which the situation demands; for a new dimension. We must watch our language so as to protect the initiative. What is important is to lay firm foundations through wide consultations so as to ensure that as we move (to an Anti Apartheid Conference) we are prepared even for the eventuality of a ban.
We (ANC) are engaged in underground building, and the ideas expressed are complementary. An underground would not be parochial but would aim to ensure the MDM is strong everywhere. From what has been said there is an underground in a way... We have to put a strong issue before the people to rally (them). The growth of underground structures complements and is complemented by such issues. This is why we shall, as we have been doing, keep in touch and support the initiative.
There will be further discussions, but you find that the NEC supports (the line). We are satisfied with the level of consciousness and what is necessary is to pull together; a strategy of broadening is consistent.
After your travels you may wish to share your perceptions, we will respond.
CHAIRMAN thanked everyone for attention and closed meeting at 13:10 hours.