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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

A brief General Statement on the Political situation in South Africa

The enlarged meeting of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress of South Africa held in Zambia, August 27-31, 1971, fully discussed and reviewed the general political, economic and social situation obtaining inside South Africa today. It also examined the revolutionary potentialities of that explosive situation which is highlighted by the new and frantic manoeuvres of the racist South African regime, evident in its Bantustan strategy for Africans, Indians and Coloureds, and in the so-called outward-looking policy of the Vorster regime. These manoeuvres are supported by the local South African monopoly-capitalist circles and by major Western imperialist powers and their lackeys who form the PRO-DIALOGUE lobby. The strong spirit of unity which the NEC discussions generated among all participants will enable us more effectively to mobilize and unify all revolutionary forces within South Africa on the basis of active resistance by all forms of struggle against the colonialist racist system commonly known as apartheid.

The two aspects of this overall apartheid strategy are manifested by the confusion generated in the Bantustan debate and the talk concerning dialogue as a new tactic for liberation in South Africa. Internally the Bantustan policy is presented by the Vorster regime as a basis of independence for the Black people; externally the dialogue stratagem is relied upon by the entire white ruling class to divide the O.A.U. and thus weaken and divert the revolutionary opposition of Africa to apartheid. In the final analysis, this two-pronged apartheid offensive is aimed in the first place at ensuring the perpetual enslavement of the African people, and finally at enabling the white ruling class in South Africa and its imperialist allies to dominate and exploit the rest of the African continent.

A new situation has thus arisen for the African continent and the anti-imperialist world in which the South Africa system, guided by internal and external imperialist forces, will become the socio-economic and political base around which reactionary forces throughout Africa will be moblised. The military and economic strength of the South African apartheid regime is poised for this general offensive on the African revolutionary process.

With this objective appraisal in mind, the NEC of the ANC (S.A.) decided to declare with renewed vigour that the fundamental character and essence of the South African system has not changed. That system ensures national oppression and exploitation. The two pre-dominant contemporary variants of the system, namely, the Bantustan programme for Africans, Indians and Coloureds, and the dialogue-oriented outward-looking policy of the Vorster regime, are aimed against the entire African continent. They are calculated to stem the tide of progress towards the total liberation of the African tide of progress towards the total liberation of the African people both in South Africa and in the rest of the continent.

The ANC (S.A.) rejects the apartheid system in all its various forms, and pledges to continue along the road of revolutionary struggle for the total emancipation of all our people.

The deliberations of the NEC showed that the Vorster regime is confronted with a growing socio-political crisis in which the Black people are more and more forging new forms of resistance. The Vorster regime is also caught in the maelstrom of a world-wide monetary and economic situation in which inter-imperialist conflicts are growing. The general economic climate in South Africa is so bad that the white ruling class are compelled to seek a way out of the economic crisis facing them by drawing in more and more independent African countries into the South African economic orbit, so as to stave off the sharp political conflicts emerging in the country. The dialogue tactic is the main form of escape from the pangs of the internal socio-economic and political crisis now challenging the ruling class, who cannot continue ruling in the old way. Hence the Bantustan and Dialogue diversions.

The NEC calls for vigilance and sounds a word of warning to all Africans, free and unfree alike, to beware the South African imperialist monster that is spreading its tentacles in the form of a Bantustan and Dialogue strategy to perpetuate the existing oppressive power-structure in South Africa, and to extend it in subtle forms over the rest of independent Africa. For purposes of co-ordinating this imperialist offensive in Africa a large number of political, economic and diplomatic platforms are being created to involve the entire African continent in its own re-enslavement. Hence the unabated spread of counter-revolutionary situations in independent African states, as also the increasingly close links between South Africa and Israel, South Africa and West Germany, South Africa and the European Economic Community, South Africa and the U.S.A., France, Britain, Italy, Portugal and Japan, etc., and above all, between South Africa and some independent African states.

Having thoroughly analysed the fundamental wickedness and anti-human character of the South African apartheid system, the NEC emphasized, in its response on behalf of all oppressed and exploited people, that a broad and deeper alliance of the Black people in South Africa against White domination and for freedom must continue to be forged, with the Africans playing a central role as the mainstay of the revolution, and that the ANC as the accepted vanguard of that liberatory revolutionary process will persistently advocate and engage in armed struggle as the main weapon for bringing about fundamental social and revolutionary change in South Africa, side by side with the various legal and illegal forms of resistance now emergent in the country.

The NEC reiterates the general principle to which we have remained faithful in the past, and which we again advocate for the present and future, namely, that the main content of our struggle is the national liberation of the African majority, the success of which will ensure freedom and democracy not only for all Blacks but for all people in South Africa. The enforcement of the Bantustan policy has made the land question a crucial issue in the national liberatory struggle. The African people reject the territorial boundaries fixed by the enemy for the so-called homelands, and claim the repossession of the whole of South Africa from their white conquerors. This cannot be achieved by dialogue, for it is the militarized form of the South African regime, sometimes openly expressed in military threats against Zambia, Tanzania and the O.A.U., which provides the position of strength from which South Africa continues to enforce its colonialist racist policy. We must, therefore, emphasize that no number of visits to South Africa or visits by South Africans to independent Africa or abroad will change the reactionary essence of the apartheid socio-political and economic structure. In any case, no dialogue can have any meaning if conducted over the heads of the national liberation movement.

Furthermore, the NEC extends and will continue to extend a hand of comradeship in battle and fraternal amity to all other revolutionary fighting forces outside South Africa – to independent Africa; to our comrades-in-arms in the unliberated territories of Africa; to the Palestinian people struggling against Zionism and U.S. imperialist forces in the Arab world; to our brothers of the Black Power movement in the U.S.A.; and to the great and heroic people of Vietnam and Indo-China.

We greet all revolutionaries throughout the world and pledge that, as our struggle is an integral part of the worldwide anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and anti-neocolonialist struggle for freedom, independence, human dignity, peace and social progress, we shall continue to hold high the banner of revolution in our own country.

This is the general spirit that characterized the highly successful deliberations of the Enlarged NEC meeting on many questions of strategy and tactics in the revolution in South Africa; on unity and united action in that revolutionary process.


September 3, 1971

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