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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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 Special Meeting October 15
SPECIAL MEETING OF THE NWC HELD ON 15-10-1989 AT 10:00 HOURS
PRESENT : R. Sept; S. Mf; S. Dl; D. Tl;; SS; JZ; HM; JS; CH/ J.Nhl; T. Mong; JJ; R. Mom
IN THE CHAIR : R. Sept opened the meeting. JJ explained he had requested meeting having received information that leaders of the MDM (Salojee, MM; Mayekiso) would be coming to Lusaka on Sunday 15th. The meeting should have a fresh look at documents considered at previous meeting to be able to brief the visitors. Moreover, Syd Mof had sent word on his way to Kuala Lumpur that he had given a report to NEC members in London.
(JS was requested to give report.)
JS: I saw Syd Mof in London. He reported to a few of us who were in London. Briefly, position presented was as follows:-
When the MDM heard that the release (of 8) was about to happen and that NM had wanted to see a delegation, they had suspected that he wanted to counsel a "low key" reception. They (MDM) were opposed to this idea. NM had proceeded to give them a detailed picture of the negotiations that had been going on., He had dealt with the history of the releases, how he had negotiated release of HG and GM. He had been critical that they had not played a 'low key", and HG's pictures addressing meetings in an agitated mood had been shown to him. He had not raised his own position but had said undertaking with the regime was that they play a low key…. He had said he had seen all seven before their removal and they had agreed to play a low key. Syd sayhs the delegation came back surprised, but they did not hammer the need for the leaders to stand at head of the mobilization (campaign).
We had discussed this (report) in London (about six (6) of us including R. Kas' AP' Gertie; T. Mb) and in short the feeling had been that the correct thing to do was for them (leaders released) to take their place at the head of the struggle. Some reservations were expressed as to whether the comrades could have agreed (to the low key role)…. We had said there must be no "low key"…. As we saw the position, De Klerk had said the release was unconditional.. It would be impossible for them when crowds are there to say they are not going to speak. T. Mb had raised the point that it would be untenable for them not to say anything. He said at the very least they could explain if they had agreed to conditions….. We had felt it would be a tragedy if the momentum (the greatest generated in recent history) could be deflated… The struggle is really not about Mandela, it is about other issues…. He will be released not because of "low key" activity, but because of heightened activity. The kind of demonstrations taking place…. If we stop them, we are not likely to get them again… We did not however make a firm decision in London.
T. Mong explained that he had been in the group which had met Mofumali… The news media in Britain had been of the SA story. The media were even speculating about the release of NM's document on negotiations. There were stories of the demonstrations, including an interview with Cyril Ramaphosa who had been quoted as saying "these people are coming out to stand at the head of the struggle….."
R. Sept : Our consensus had (also) been against a "low key" role.
CH : I don't think the comrades are under any moral obligation to be tied down by De Klerk…. They can't afford to diffuse the spirit of the people…
R. Sept: There is this question of a two months moratorium….
(Loludly : "It's out!")
JS : We must know if these comrades have made undertakings, we cannot risk a public confrontation…. We should stick to our view… NM has become an important figure, and there's a risk in this situation…. It's a question of how we go about it… We must listen to these people who will be coming, they might give us a better insight.
CH : On such issues, NM should consult to help us avoid public confrontations…. He is in prison and does not understand…. It is difficult but he should canvass views.
J. Nhl : In the light of JS report, the important things appear to be:
1. NM is still in, WS out; we have to send the result of our discussions to both.
2. How to handle the releases in the way we want.
3. The regime is trying (by way of allowing delegations to visit NM) to sow division.
4. GM and HG have been conducting themselves in a responsible way.
JZ : We have to avoid a situation where the enemy say we are not united; that there are "hardliners and softies". The regime has deliberately counterposed HG and NM and this tactic has been exposed in the Press.
WS doesn't appear to be happy with the "low key idea. Let us listen to what the comrades (from inside) have to say first. The immediate thing is to harmonise views.
S. Dl : The tiger can never change his spots without armed struggle….
S. Mf was then given the opportunity to explain how the Secretariat had consolidated the views on release of the leaders contained in the original document and in the Plan recently discussed.
See document attached titled : Working Document for Activities Following the Release of ANC Leaders (15th October, 1989).
It was agreed that the document would serve as a basis for discussions with the expected delegation from the MDM on the reception and role of the released leaders.
1. CH informed meeting that the sister of late Vincent Makhele had informed him that her father had been summoned to Maseru where he was told that an inquest was being instituted on the death of her late brother. Her father requested financial assistance to engage counsel to protect the interests of the family (and that of ) which was destitute.
It was Agreed : That legal assistance including obtaining services of counsel be accorded the family, and any other support to the family of Makhele.
2. CH informed meeting that lawyers who represented Cde Stofile and others in the Ciskei case (harbouring MK cadres) had informed him Maj. Gen Sebe had approached Stofile in gaol and there was a possibility of the release of Ciskeian prisoners in Ciskeian gaols. MHQ considered time had come, considering these trends (also in the Transkei), for a reappraisal of attitudes towards these areas.
3. T. Mong reported on condition of President which he said had improved greatly.
It was Agreed : That bulletin on the progress in President's health be issued.
4. JZ was given authority to meet the emissary of the King of Zululand.
Chairman thanked members for their attention. It was agreed that the meeting would resume at 17:00 hours.
19th October, 1989