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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Minutes of an Extended President's Committee Meeting held on 9 October 1989


1. The meeting with the Broederbond members in London

Cde TM reported that this was a regular meeting known to members of the President's Committee. At the meeting Broeders reported that the process of releasing political prisoners was about to start, with Cde Walter Sisulu being the first to be released. Though the release was to be effected piecemeal, the time difference between releases was to be shorter and more rapid than was the case when GM and HG were released.

Cde Nelson was to be the last to get out in the list of Rivonia trialists. It was reported that De Klerk was aware that he needs to do something before the Commonwealth meeting. He was also aware that the liberation movement was a key factor. Though the regime is still discussing the question of whether or not renunciation of violence should be stuck to as a precondition to talks, De Klerk is still adamant on the concept of group rights. But discussions on the issue are going on and there is desire that the position be abandoned.

The Broeders identified obstacles to change as follows:-

1.. The NP does not want to lose control of the pace of that change.

2.. Fear of black domination.

3.. De Klerk's desire to restructure the state machinery because he does not like the State Security Council.

4.. Mistrust of the ANC. Regime not happy with the idea that the Harare OAU Declaration be tabled to the UN which will make it mandatory. It was explained to them that the intervention of the international community will be a matter of negotiation. They also indicated that the regime was not convinced that there is no secret agenda behind the Declaration.

2. Releases

All political prisoners serving life will be released.. Indications are already there. Some of them for instance, are already wearing their new clothes.

In the circumstances, the movement should make adequate preparations in relation to:-

Ø. Reception

Ø. Money, transport, accommodation, etc.

Ø. Role of this leadership inside the country vis-à-vis the MDM leadership and the NEC outside the country.

Ø. Whether or not those of the MDM leadership who are members of the ANC should be surfaced

Ø. What happens when Walter is released. NM had proposed that he should assume a low key role as part of the process to get others out.

Having received this report, the meeting agreed that:-

Ø. there was a need for a sub-committee to sit down and prepare proposals for consideration by the PC. Also to be considered was the possibility of some comrades based outside to visit NM in prison. According to the Canadians the regime has accepted the idea.

Ø. The question of leadership was not in dispute. What is recognized is the fact that they are part of the leadership and constitute the top of that leadership.

Ø. As national leaders in the broadest sense of the concept, they should, on release, be allowed to exercise that role unhindered.

In addition, the meeting agreed that some guidelines as to how this leadership relates to the MDM and the question of armed struggle should be drawn up. At some stage in the near future, it will be necessary for the movement to adopt a clear position in relation to the possibility of the regime unbanning the ANC inside and keeping the ban on the ANC outside unless it declares itself as opposed to armed struggle.

It was suggested that we need to have a discussion with HG on all these issues before he goes back home.

3. Koornhof

TM reported that he was informed by one professor that Koornhof had approached him to tell TM that he was on instructions from the regime to arrange a meeting between the regime's representatives and ANC in New York in November. The meeting agreed that the matter be taken to NWC for consideration.

4. Debt rescheduling

Cde TM submitted a report of a discussion between him, JZ and ST on the one hand and one Terry Crawford Browne on the other. The latter is a banker (South African) who is now working with Desmond and Allan on the issue of finance sanctions. When he met the three comrades on Sunday the 8th, he was on his way to New York to sound the views of American bankers on the question of debt rescheduling on request by the two clergymen. Without prior consultation with the ANC they are initiating a meeting between the ANC and the bankers. The purpose of the meeting would be to persuade bankers not to reschedule. According to Terry that should not be difficult only if the ANC could make an undertaking that it would, when in power as a government, consider itself liable to pay the debts. Such a promise, to be of weight and effect, has of course to have the backing of the Scandinavian and Open countries. According to the report the proposed meeting should be convened some time in November by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Meeting agreed that:-

Ø. the initiative be supported but observed that Desmond and Allan need to be warned about the dangers of taking such decisions without consultation with us and the MDM.

Ø. The ANC consults with experts in the field of international banking who should then advise on the wisdom or not of making the pledge as proposed above.

Ø. Terry should continue with the work. In the meantime the ANC should set its own machinery in action identifying who can provide assistance. The meeting also noted that there was an element of urgency and that we needed to move speedily.

5. John …. Deputy Director of Policy Planning Unit in Washington (TM report)

He has made an observation that, in spite of the black upsurge in the US during the past decades, the position of the blacks has not improved at all. There is no movement forward in the socio-political field. On the basis of this observation John is of the view that low key workshops between ANC and the State Department should be organized. The purpose would be to determine how much the US can contribute towards the building of a viable post-apartheid South Africa to the benefit of the oppressed majority. In addition, such workshops should probe areas of cooperation between the ANC and the State Department.

The Democratic Party has also expressed desire to help the ANC master electoral processes. They are involved already as observers in Namibia. Soon they will be fielding a team of observers in Chile. If the ANC is interested, the Democratic Party will be happy to have in the team a member of the movement.

The meeting agreed to the proposals, but noted that we will need to find out how the DP delegation is constituted and how it will function. It was also agreed that we should consider sending an observer to Namibia. Such an observer might be attached to any of the many observer teams in Namibia.

6. On the President – TM

KK had approached the Swedes to settlement of the clinic bill. Given our relationship with the Swedes, it was irregular that KK should approach them himself about a matter which directly concerns us. We need to regularize the whole business, even though the Zambians have paid the bill.

Another disturbing aspect around the President's illness is the role of Cde Adelaide. Without consultation with the movement, she has embarked on a fundraising spree. Already she had approached Ramphal and any other rich people in the US. Cde TM talked to Cde Adelaide about the matter, arguing that the illness of the President is the movement's responsibility to attend to it, and that if she were to continue raising funds on behalf of the family such an act can only bring embarrassment, to the organization. She was told that there was no need for family initiative on the matter. She agreed. But comrade TM discovered that she was still fundraising in the US. Thereupon Cde TM told the people she had approached in the US and Ramphal himself in London, that under no circumstances must they respond to Cde Adelaide's individual initiatives.

At any rate, Cde Adelaide insists that she wants no movement intervention when family friends are approached. She complains that the movement owes her money which Cde Ismail has not handed to her.

The meeting felt that the movement needs to take full control of the situation.

Ø. We need to determine, for instance, to which country he goes for recuperation after discharge.

Ø. Who stays with him.

Ø. What we do with finances relating to treatment, etc.

Ø. Whether or not Cde Adelaide needs to leave work and attend to the President full time as suggested by Cde Nelson and Winnie, and what the financial implications of such a move will be, given that she gets an annual salary of £25,000 and is due to be pensioned in four years' time.

During discussion it was also observed that there is no clear line of participation from the leadership. This weakness has created problems. Access to the President is difficult, if not impossible, even for membership of the NEC. Most of the time, Cde Adelaide is at the clinic. She even administers her own drugs without consultation with doctors. It is believed that the deterioration in the condition of the President which resulted in his being taken back to the clinic was as a result of her own actions and rash decision.

The TG advised the meeting that on his way to Oslo he will touch London and tell her that leadership is worried about the way she is going about doing things that can only serve to embarrass the movement and the President himself. In addition, he will instruct her and Cde Mendi to stop debarring NEC members from seeing the President.

The meeting agreed with the TG and further resolved that the NEC takes full control of the President's welfare. The following set of guidelines to control Cde Adelaide are recommended for the attention and consideration of the NWC:-

Ø. She should stop fundraising forthwith.

Ø. A committee to be based in London should be set up. It would be charged to handle everything pertaining to the President's stay in the clinic, including security.

Ø. Personal expenses incurred by the family should be directed to the committee.

Ø. The committee should submit weekly reports to the NEC/NWC on the progress of the President.

In the execution of this task, the committee will have to work in close cooperation with the doctors.

The TG was charged with the responsibility of setting up this committee while in London. In addition, Cde Adelaide has to be informed of this decision. She must also be told that she must continue to work where she is employed presently.

Finally the meeting agreed that the SG and the TG must brief State House regularly.

7. WM and the pending trial

It was brought to the attention of the meeting that those standing trial for the murder of Stompie are due to appear in court. It is believed that appalling revelations relating to WM's conduct are definitely going to be made. The state intends calling witnesses from the MDM. The crucial question is whether we continue to keep the trial as a Mandela family thing, in line with Cde Nelson's thinking.

The meeting felt that it could only be kept a family affair only in so far as funding is concerned. Otherwise we should discourage MDM members from testifying.

The accused themselves have to be approached with a view to discouraging them giving evidence that would reveal what WM had done. But the matter is best handled by the lawyers, taking into consideration, of course, that some of them might be agents. At the same time the movement must embark on a rigorous propaganda campaign whose thrust should be to expose the state as having stage-managed the whole club activities.


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