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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

IPC underground document


Hereunder is document submitted to NEC by IPC:




1.1 The unbanning of the ANC has direct implications for the building of the underground. Some of the tasks previously performed by the underground can now be conducted openly. This requires a definition of the tasks of the underground as well as clarification of the manner in which it will be organised in the present phase of our struggle.

1.2 The building of the underground must be guided by our strategic goal which is the transfer of power to the people. The precise form which transfer of power will take depends on a combination of many factors present and still unfolding. Whatever form it takes - negotiations or seizure of power – the strength of our political and military forces will be crucial. Therefore, the building of our forces including those organised through the underground will remain a vital determinant in achieving the goal of transfer of power.

1.3 The point we have reached in our struggle demands that our underground assumes a character in keeping with the changing situation. The present situation allows the ANC to work at two levels: the legal and the underground.

a. This is advantageous in two ways:

* our capacity to confront the enemy is doubled;

* we will also have greater flexibility in meeting the demands of changing conditions.

b. Exile severely hampered our ability to exercise leadership. In the present situation an internally based ANC leadership will be in a position to: provide integrated and on-the-spot leadership at both the underground and open levels, obtain and verify information speedily, as well as rapidly review tactical decisions. By being legalised we have obtained greater space for us to operate in. This must be exploited to its maximum by organising at both levels.

1.4 Prior to the unbanning the underground was meant to provide the overall political leadership. This will now be altered with overall political leadership for both levels being provided by the "legal" top leadership bodies. The national underground leadership shall operate as a specialized committee of the NEC strategising for the underground and supervising its day-to-day functioning. The actual manner in which the 2 levels relate is presented in section 4 below.


2.1 The tasks of the underground are dictated to by our strategic objective of transfer of power to the people. This entails the building of the people's forces central to which is the building of MK. Many of the tasks necessary for the development of the people's forces cannot be carried out legally, but are crucial for the attainment of our strategic objective - no matter what form this takes. Yet, as noted above, the character of the underground has to change since several of its tasks can now be carried out legally.

2.2 Underground work shall now be characterised by:

a. the strategic tasks of the underground; and

b. the tactical use of underground methods.

2.3 The strategic tasks of the underground are ongoing tasks which will need to be pursued until the question of the transfer of power to the people has been resolved.

2.3.1 These tasks necessitate a functioning underground which is active and adopts an assertive posture ie an underground which is continuously engaged and expanding all the time.

2.3.2 The underground will have to carry out the following tasks:

a. recruitment for both the people's army and underground functions. This would include a massive recruitment drive for MK.

b. building the people's army:

i. developing combat units;

ii. creating self-defence units;

iii. systematic stockpiling of weapons.

c. work in enemy armed forces:

We need to directly win support from black soldiers and police and to a certain extent amongst the whites. Both the open and underground levels can address themselves to the question of winning over the enemy's forces. Deliberate infiltration by the youth into the armed forces should also be included.

d. underground propaganda functions:

Whilst legally the ANC will be able to conduct widespread propaganda work it is essential for the underground presses to be maintained and developed. Underground propaganda work must continue actively so that it can contribute towards the execution of out strategic tasks.

Furthermore, underground propaganda will be essential for providing leadership during partial uprisings (such as those being witnessed in the Bantustans).

e. Intelligence and counter intelligence work.

f. reception of trained cadres and other underground operatives.

This will involve receiving those who have been trained outside as well those from other parts of the country who may be deployed in new areas or who have had to flee their region because of repression.

2.3.2 Some of these tasks will also be carried out by the ANC legally. A clear example of this will be the ANC addressing the enemy's armed forces. This can be done by a combination of open calls to the soldiers as well as through the underground.

2.3.3 The underground must have the capacity to provide the organizational base for a fall-back in a situation where the legal activity of the ANC is threatened or even stopped.

2.4 At the same time there will have to be the tactical use of underground methods. For eg, there may be certain geographical areas where informal (and formal) repression shall force even the legal activity of the ANC to be conducted clandestinely. Further legal structures and operatives of the ANC should employ methods which would make it difficult for the enemy to immobilize them. This form of underground work must be considered as tactical and distinct from the strategic underground tasks.



a. There must be only one leadership body for the entire underground.

b. The national underground leadership shall fall under the leadership of the NEC, The connection and interdependence between the NEC and the underground committee must be dynamic, and the safety of both levels of leadership must be protected.

c. This is how we envisage the national leadership body being structured and relating to the open leadership:

That the comrade heading the underground should be a member of the NEC. There will be a committee headed by this comrade and performing underground leadership functions. This committee can be composed of NEC and non-NEC members. The NEC members obviously take part in all strategising, planning and decision-making of the NEC. Only the NEC will know of the comrades' underground responsibilities.

d. The tasks of this underground leadership are to strategise, plan and direct all the specialisations of underground work.

e. The comrades on the national underground leadership committee should

take responsibility for different spheres of specialised activity.

3.1.2 Under the underground leadership committee will be set up an MK general

staff whose specific functions shall be:

* the building of a strong and effective army

* the establishment of a recruiting structure for the purposes of:

[a] internal training and deployment of personnel into other formations

[b] swelling the ranks of MK for immediate operational

[c] the training of a future regular army

* to plan and carry out operations

* the establishment of bases throughout the country

* the setting up and supervision of regional commands

* stockpiling of ordinance material and arming of combat units

* the development of a military intelligence network

* a communication system in order to co-ordinate and streamline our activities both between the internal national and regional structures and the internal and external structures

* assisting in the building, training and equipping of self defence units

* participate in political work within the enemy armed forces

* take part in the establishment of safe and reliable routes for the movement of personnel between the internal and external

* the organisation of political education for all personnel under it

* the creation of facilities for medical services for the underground and the army internally

The general staff shall operate under the direction of the underground leadership committee to which it shall be fully accountable. Some members of the general staff will be part of the national underground leadership committee, taking part in all the decision making of that committee.


4.2.1 Relationship between the underground and the above board:

a. The underground regional committees should be set up alongside the legal ANC formations. Thus, if the country is divided into 14 geographical zones, there should be 14 regional underground committees in charge of all underground work in that area. They shall all be directed by the national underground leadership.

b. The national underground leadership committee in conjunction with the NEC wil appoint one member of the regional underground committee who will be part of the above board regional committee.

c. There should be one line of communication between the national u/g body and the regional u/g leadership. The regional underground committee does not report to the regional above board committee. It reports to the national underground leadership committee. The above board regional structure can make an input into the underground through the open national leadership since it "will not know" the comrade responsible for underground work.

4.2.2 Relationship between underground regional committee and regional command:

a. As in the national structure some members of the regional command will be part of the regional underground committee. On operational military questions ie the implementation of military decisions, the General staff will communicate directly with the regional commands, and through them with the MK units (and vice versa).

b. This will not violate the underground principle of one vertical line of command since some military personnel are part of all underground leadership committees at whatever level. However, the leadership must draw up a mode of operation to ensure that in actual practice friction does not arise out of the existence of these parallel lines.

4.2.3. NAT.

NAT shall have structures which fall under the national underground leadership committees. The rest of NAT structures shall fall under the regional committees and be responsible for relevant tactical activity.

4.2.4 Whilst the strategic tasks of the underground shall be pursued in all regions the peculiarities of each region will determine the emphasis in underground organising. Thus we would perhaps find more combat units in one area than another depending on the political needs of the situation.


5.1 The above proposed plan of action should be divided into 2 phases. The first phase should be from now until the National Conference in December. During this period the open regional committees will be appointed by the ILC. The comrades from underground structures who will sit on the open regional bodies must emerge alongside the rest of the open regional committee.

5.2 The second phase takes off after regional committees are elected. In this phase we may face attempts at infiltration or other forms of misuse of the democratic process. This will demand that vigorous work is carried out to ensure that open regional committees consist of the most dedicated comrades.

However, the structural link between the legal and underground bodies will have to be reviewed in the context of such developments.


6.1 The head and members of the national underground leadership committee must be appointed and deployed immediately by the NEC.

6.2 The immediate task of this committee is to draw up a plan of action that would start by reviewing all underground structures of the ANC (this is to include units and personnel under PMC, PP, MHQ, IPC, Nat and forward areas) with the aim of:

i. appointing underground regional leadership structures

ii. re-allocating units to each of the underground regional structures.

6.3 Whilst our objective must be to develop underground leadership in all the regions the national underground leadership must be allowed to prioritise its work, giving more consideration to the strategically important regions and tasks.

6.4 A position paper should be worked on immediately in preparation for the possible suspension of hostilities. The paper should cover how the movement will carry out the task of building the army and the utilisation of combatants on the ground in this period.

6.5 The NEC must address themselves now on how to handle what could be seen as a contradiction arising from maintaining different forms of struggle. There are two areas of concern on this question. One is the question of relationship between mass action and negotiations. The second area concerns the question of maintaining an underground when we are legal. How are we going to justify the existence of an active underground?



1. . Phasing out the PMC:

1.1 . The PMC is the executive arm of the NEC on al matters dealing with internal work, It is necessary now, with the unbanning of the ANC, to ask whether we still need the PMC? What should happen to the IPC and MHQ? What structures do we need to retain outside the country?

1.2 The Service Units in the forward areas were formed with the purpose of phasing out leadership structures and transferring them into the country. It was envisaged that their tasks would simply be to service politico-military units.

1.3 Many of the tasks carried out by the PMC structures can now be undertaken openly. Supervision and leadership of underground structures is now to be undertaken by an internally based underground leadership committee. There is therefore a need to re-structure externally in accordance with this changed situation in order for us to rationalise our resources.

1.2. Tasks to be performed outside: What are the major tasks to be carried out by the external structures? We need:

* logistical support

* ordinance work

* clandestine movement of personnel

* training and upgrading of cadres

* running of training camps

* communications

* documentation (passports)

Our structures outside should be tailored for these needs. Tasks such as the procurement of ordinance material outside the country and approaching friendly countries for training shall be undertaken by the NEC which shall delegate when the need arises.

3. Structures required:

3.1 To carry out these tasks we need an implementing body which falls under the underground leadership. This structure acts under the direction of the underground leadership committee.

3.2 Forward areas: In the forward areas we should have operatives falling under the implementation structure who will carry out such tasks as mounting couriers, creating routes, gathering of intelligence, communication, etc. The present structures should be dismantled.

4. Plan of action:

4.1 There is an urgent need for a plan of action to be drawn up for the immediate phasing out of the PMC as it is now constituted, and for comrades to be deployed inside the country where their experience and skills can best be used.

4.2 To determine areas of deployment for PMC personnel a census needs to be taken covering the forward areas, HQ, and any other areas where there are PMC personnel (ie the camps). This census should take into account personal preferences which will serve to guide us.

4.3 The programme of action also needs to look at mechanisms for the transfer of relevant operational data to the underground leadership structures inside. This would cover both military and political data taking all the necessary security precautions.

4.4 The role and structuring of Nat both in internal underground structures and those outside should be worked out.

N.B. As suggested in the other document - the building of the ANC underground -

the immediate appointment of a national underground leadership is crucial. The phasing out of the PMC and the establishment of new structures is dependent on the appointment of the internal underground committee.

5. The programme of action should be drawn up by mid-April ready for immediate implementation.

The plan of action proposed is already being overtaken by events.

Regional committees area already set up by the ILC. The following dangers could arise:

[a] ILC could unknowingly surface strategic underground cadres who we would prefer to continue utilising at a different level;

[b] ILC unwittingly appointing problematic cadres.

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