About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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 Operational Structures

Ø     MK High Command captured at Rivonia dire need for leadership.

Ø     After Wankie/Sipolilo Campaign with ZAPU in 1967/68, Morogoro Conference held in 1969.

Ø     Revolutionary Council established at Morogoro in 69 with OR as chair, tasked with establishing an underground political presence in SA, also with infiltrating cadres into SA to carry out military operations.

Ø     Mid-1970's Angola liberated, ANC able to set up its own camps General Headquarters established in Luanda, aka The General Staff, aka MK Headquarters.

Ø     SA divided into so-called operational areas Eastern (Mozambique) and Western Fronts (Botswana).

Ø     By 1978 first MK operations carried out by units know as Transvaal Urban Machinery in the PWV area.

Ø     Same time attacks launched from Western Front to establish guerrilla bases in Western Transvaal.

Ø     In 1979 Special Operations established charged with task of carrying out attacks on major installations. Reported directly to ANC President. Carried out operations in a way so as to avoid loss of life.

Ø     A new Military Headquarters (MHQ) was established in December 1982 consisted of reorganised old General Headquarters, operated both Eastern and Western Fronts at HQ in Lusaka along formal military lines.

Ø     Senior organs set up in neighbouring countries consisted of the political and military leadership in those areas. Attempted to coordinate activities between military front commands and internal political committee structures.

Ø     Conference held in Maputo in April 1983 of all front commanders and commissars wanted to address problem of lack of effective coordination between military and political aspects of struggle.

Ø     Revolutionary Council (RC) replaced with Politico-Military Council (PMC) became most senior structure after National Executive Committee.

Ø     PMC consisted of:

     Secretariat

     Internal Political Committee

     Military HQ

     Intelligence (aka NAT) consisted of Intelligence, Counter-Intelligence and Security

Ø     PMC charged with: implementing decisions of NEC with regard to political and military aspects of the struggle; providing overall political-military leadership.

Ø     PMC consisted of:

     Chair: OR Tambo

     Secretary from NEC

     Representatives of MHQ

     Head of Internal Political Committee

     Other NEC members of the IPC

     Heads of Intelligence and Security structures

     Secretaries-general of ANC, SACP & SACTU

     Other NEC members who also served on PMC

Ø     Early senior organs replaced by Regional PMCs to try to create link between PMC and structures on the ground.

Ø     RPMCs in the "forward areas" given greater freedom regarding decisions to carry out operations.

Ø     PMC was aware of number of units on the ground in SA for security reasons information on actual identities of operatives not available to this structure. RPMCs dealt with this information.

Ø     RPMCs charged with coordinating political and military activities in their areas of responsibility in SA; also, where possible, set up Area PMCs inside SA.

Ø     In 1984 Special Operations moved to MHQ.

Ø     Due to intense military/diplomatic pressure on neighbouring states by PTA, & Namibia's independence settlement led to closure of ANC military training camps in Angola.

Ø     Seriously hampered work of MK in general and specifically RPMCs.

Ø     In 1986 Operation Vula initiated aim of creating a national politico-military

Supposed change in strategy from armed struggle to assertion of political leadership also important supposed to be was maturity of appointees and emphasis on training.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.