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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

ANC NEC Meeting August 27-31 1971

Minutes of the Meeting of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress of South Africa

Held in Lusaka from August 27 to 31, 1971

CHAIRMANSHIP: The Chairmanship of the meeting rotated amongst the Acting President, Dr W Z Conco, Com. TT Nkobi and Com Nzwandile Piliso


1. Opening address by the Acting President, Com O R Tambo.

2. The Main Demands and Tactical Demands of the Current Political Situation in South Africa.

3. Impact on International Forces and Trends on the Revolutionary Struggle in South and Southern Africa.

4. Report on International Solidarity Work.

5. Political Leadership and Organisational Problems.

6. Report on the Work of the Revolutionary Council.

7. Umkhonto We Sizwe – Its Organisation, Tasks and Structure.

8. Funds and Other Logistic Problems.

9. Unity and Alliance –

(a). Within the South African Liberation Movement.

(b). With other Revolutionary Forces fighting Racism, Colonialism and Imperialism – ZAPU, FRELIMO, :MPLA, SWAPO, PAIGC and others.

10. Plans for :

(a). Tenth Anniversaryh of Umkhonto We Sizwe; and

(b). Sixtieth Anniversary of the African National Congress (S.A.)

11. Other Bujsiness –

(a). Report on Lutuli Memorial Foundation.



The meeting was attended by the members of the National Executive; Chief Representatives and some of their Assistants; some leading members in the ANC, Youth and Women Sections, Umkhonto We Sizwe; and from the South African Congress of Trade Unions.

Notable absentees because of serious illness, arrest or other engagements outside the ANC were Comrades JB Marks, Moses Kotane, Masabalala Yengwa, Nazisi Kunene, Memory Miya, Bill Mokgomane and Joe Matthews.


(a). Suggested Tactics and Strategy in the Mobilisation and Organisation of Africans for the Revolution.

(b). Brief Historical Background of Colonialisation and reflections on the political strategy of the South African Revolution.

(c). Concerning Certain Political Problems and some Aspects of the Current Political Situation in South Africa.

(d). Proposal for a New Strategy of the African National Congress of South Africa – April, 1971.


(f). The Nature of International Forces and Trends on the Revolutionary Situation in Southern Africa.

(g). The Report of the Secretariat covering the last two Years – Parts I and II.

(h). The Lutuli Memorial Foundation.

(i). The Trade Union Movement and its Role in the Impending South African Revolution.

(j). Report on Visit to Guinea-Bissau.


(a). The report of the Department of Information and Publicity.

(b). ANC Women's Secretariat Report on Activities from August 1970 to August 1971.


The Meeting was declared open by the Acting President Com OR Tambo at 11 am by leading in the singing of the National Anthem.


"Over the past 6 years, in one part or another of the vast bush that covers the greater portion of this land, young revolutionaries, resolved to liberate their motherlands from the yoke of colonialism and the clutches of Fascist white minority rule, have stayed, discussed, planned and prepared, moved to the battle-fronts in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Many have fallen in battle, many wounded and many captured. The others, their numbers swelled by the local population, confront the enemy even as we sit assembled here today. What is not often recognized – because we believe the enemy rather than ourselves, is that the armed and uniformed agents of colonialism and imperialism, the armies of Vorster, Smith and Portugal, have been severely mauled by our brave people in these clashes and the gallant militants of the ANC's Umkhonto We Sizwe have had their glorious share in the armed revolution that cannot but bring freedom to the peoples of Southern Africa. In fact these trees around us have become a part of the as yet unwritten history of Umkhonto We Sizwe, for it is on this very spot where some of the greatest sons of our country have stayed, and it is from this spot that they too have moved to battle zones, there to stand face to face with the enemy, and if needs be, to kill or be killed. From this very spot, Comrade Mokgomane, CPO Member of the NEC and RC, Comrade Castro, Member of Staff Headquarters, Ex-Wankie; Comrade Victor, Member of Staff Headquarters, Ex-Wankie; Bob Zulu, Ex-Trouble Shooter; George Driver, Ex-Wankie – They left from here. Subsequently killed or captured. I mention onlhy the most recent sacrifices.

Among us here are some who have gone on dangerous missions and other missions. They have returned with the missions accomplished with great distinction.

To balance the picture, some have left from here to join the enemy, consciously in some cases, unconsciously in other cases. It is not in their honour that we have chosen to meet here. It is, rather, as an act of identity with our heroes and martyrs, not our traitors, that we have chosen the rugged comfort of these beautiful surroundings as the venue of this, perhaps the most important and the most solemn meeting we have held in many years – "important" because of its setting in the chain of rapid political developments within our country and its immediate international environs; "solemn" because at this meeting, by the tone, the level and the depth of our discussions and deliberations, we are to show the results of 60 years of political struggle and justify the great sacrifices made by our people and leaders in that time. Furthermore we are, at this very meeting to remove and eliminate that which has served and continues to serve as an impediment to the fulfillment by individuals and by the Organisation, as a whole, of a duty we all owe to our people, to their future and their destiny – a duty we owe to the whole progressive, anti-imperialist world.

We meet as a select few, to discuss and decide on matters that are of dominant interest to many compatriot revolutionaries, some of them with a long record of unsurpassed devotion to the cause of the oppressed and of the struggle against imperialism. We meet without these compatriots because this is intended to be a meeting of a few, selected on as representative a basis as was possible, and constituted as an Enlarged Meeting of the NEC of the ANC. Such a meeting enables the ANC, as a body, to fulfill its historic role as the commonly accepted leader of the mass struggle against the South African colonialist and fascist white minority regime. It underscores the responsibility of the Africans for the destiny of South Africa. They, with the revolutionary support of all progressive forces in and outside South Africa, will liberate the people of our country.

The African National Congress has a historically inescapable duty to organize the African masses into a force that is capable of leading and winning the fight against the most formidable enemy on the African continent.

But as a revolutionary vanguard, it has another and equally inescapable duty, namely, to carry with it all the revolutionaries available, to bring within its ambit the various social classes and groups which comprise the sum total of the actual and potential revolutionary forces whose task it is to achieve the successful transformation of our society.

The ANC, as the vanguard, must draw these forces into discussion and consultation, into the front ranks of the revolutionary movement. It must draw from their revolutionary experience in addition to its own, and thereby evolve, maintain and constantly ensure a correct political line. Between the performance of this function, and the practical leadership of the revolutionary mass movement, there can be no valid contradiction.

The argument about the propriety of a meeting of Africans (which some consider chauvinistic, or, alternatively a meeting of all militants of our struggle (which some have described as a 'mixed bag') is largely due to an oversight as to the vanguard functions of the ANC in terms of the common strategy of the South African revolutionary movement as proclaimed by all its contingents in a long series of policy declarations.

It is, however, possible to find much fault with the composition of this or the 1969 Morogoro meeting, especially with reference to the basis on which individuals are invited to participate. It would also be a valid criticism that the notice for the meeting has been very short, thereby depriving the meeting of the benefit."

In his concluding remarks, the Acting President declared that the purpose of the meeting was to examine the political set up with particular reference to the Bantusans; our international strategy; the progress made towards the attainment of our goals over the last 24 months since the Morogoro conference and, our competence in the execution of our tasks.

Finally, the Acting President extended warm welcome to the participants – women, members of the NEC, the Youth, our soldiers and leaders.


The Acting President then drew the attention of the meeting to the Agenda to which he moved certain amendments in order to facilitate coherent and logical discussions.

Comrade Silumko felt that the item of the Agenda dealing with the question of "Political Leadership and Organisational Problems" be disposed of before other business because of the reference in the address to the need to remove impediments for the sake of uninhibited contributions by all the participants. He went on to canvass his motion further by referring to a meeting that had recently been held in Lusaka where a report was made about certain Comrades purported to have either refused tasks or engaged themselves in conduct amounting to a breach of discipline. In his opinion, it was advisable to start off the meeting by first clearing all the hanging clouds as some participants were being accused of not willing to discharge tasks allocated to them.

Comrade Terrence Nika moved the adoption of the Agenda as proposed by the Acting President. He went on further to say that when we consider the question of leadership, we need to understand what is expected of us in South Africa. He went to plead that the participants ensure that the meeting was not reduced to a crisis exercise as we were not gathered to deal blows for the sake of dealing blows against one another. Our primary duty was to examine our collective responsibility.

Comrade Silumko pressed his motion by insisting on clearing the atmosphere first.

Thereupon the Acting President cautioned the meeting to forget about what each one of us said or did in the past and make contributions in a spirit of comradeship as the primary purpose of the meeting was about what we should do. That called for ability to separate between the fact and the man.

Comrade T Makiwane seconded the motion by Comrade Terrence Nika and called upon the meeting to proceed in the spirit of the Acting President's address.

The Agenda was then adopted as proposed by the Acting President


1. Background Papers submitted under the second item of the Agenda on "The Main Features and Tactical Demands of the Current Political Situation in South Africa", were as follows:

(a). Suggested Tactics and Strategy in the Mobilisation and Organisation of Africans for the Revolution by Comrade Chris Nkosana.

(b). Brief Historical Background of colonialism and Reflections on the Political Strategy of the South African Revolution by Comrade Walter Mavuso.

(c). Concerning certain Political Problems and some Aspects of the Current Political Situation in South Africa by Comrade Sizakele Mthunzi.

(d). Proposals for a new Strategy of the African National Congress (SA) April 1971, by Comrade Dr Pascal Ngakane.

(e). Proposed Tactics on Bantustans by Comrade Ruth Mompati.

After the presentation the Chairman drew the attention of the meeting to the number of views canvassed in the different Papers and called for suggestions on the best manner to be employed in tackling the various issues before it. Comrade Xola Makewane seconded by Comrade Chris Nkosana, moved that a Resolutions Committee of 5 people be set up. Comrade Mark Shope moved the setting up of a commission. The Commission would prepare a political report on Item 2, "The Current Situation in South Africa" as set out by the various Papers and the discussions and contributions from the meeting. The meeting agreed to the two motions.

Views and Comments

By and large, the view of the meeting was that the Papers before it presented useful guidelines to enable us to identify areas of action inside South Africa and to prepare the meeting to take certain effective decisions. However, it was felt that the basic question in our revolution, as indeed in any other country, is the question of the seizure of Power.

A number of speakers reminded the meeting of the true content of our revolution in South Africa. It was stressed that the ANC mandate was to unite and mobilize the African people for the liberation struggle. If we acknowledge this position, we are in a position to guide, direct and lead our people. We strongly detest, condemn and fare fully prepared to battle the racist white government in South Africa who oppress our people with barbarous severity.

We need to ensure that our idiom and language must be consistent with what we have been teaching our people over the last 60 years. We must be clear and unambiguous in our statements to the effect that the struggle in South Africa is the struggle of the African to regain his freedom. This did not mean that the ANC should be exclusive.

Discrimination and oppression applies to the other racial groups. In fact, the strategy of the enemy in applying its discriminatory laws in varying degrees according to particular racial groups is aimed at creating divisions among the oppressed so that they cannot present a strong as well as united force. While acknowledging that the African is the most brutally oppressed we should encourage and accept the participation in the struggle of all genuine revolutionaries. The main content of the struggle is African liberation. But it is the duty of the ANC to lead and guide all the Blacks – the oppressed – and genuine revolutionaries so as to hasten the dawn of liberation.

The Coloured and Indian people have a leadership that guides them. We have to find ways and forms of how to co-operate, liaise and work together with them so that our propaganda to and in South Africa must identify the areas affecting the people dealing with the day to day problems.

A close analysis of the Papers presented and of the general political situation existing in South Africa today, revealed that our main task is the seizure of political initiative from the hands of the enemy and its created Bantustans. The concept of Bantustans or Fragmented Mentality came up for close scrutiny. It was maintained that the terms and concepts like "Bantus", "Bantustans", "Apartheid", "Separate Development" etc are abstractions used by the racist South African government to describe its policy of exploiting and oppressing the African people in the land of their birth; and perpetuating white domination; to divert the attention of our people from the real struggle for the restoration of South Africa to its rightful owners; cause the liberation movement to be irrelevant to the solution of the plight of the African people; and to isolate it both internally and internationally.

As owners of the land in South Africa, we are striving to repossess the whole of our beloved land taken from us by the whites. We are pledged to use all methods at our disposal to regain that land, legal and illegal, violent and non-violent. We are also pledged to use all suitable strategies as a means to regaining our land. It was suggested that we should consider talking of "proposed tactics on the Land Question" in an effort to expunge words like "Bantustans" from our terminology. We have to liberate our thinking and use concepts in the true context of our struggle.

The existence of a growing movement for independence by fragmentation backed by the unleashing of a dynamic force of regional African nationalism using the official jargon as a means to an end was pointed out. Consequently, some of the current questions being asked by our people in South Africa were – What are our views about the independence of the Transkei, Zululand and the Tswana Territorial Authorities? If we abhorred this possible and ugly ethnic splintering, could we say that we take the same attitude to the independence of Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana? And if we did support these, as dictated by political reality, what convincing reason could we give for not supporting the piecemeal separation from the South African regime – in a way to break it?

Taking cognizance of this situation, it would be understood that the movement for African nationalism, though showing itself in regional form, was not prior to the ANC. It is nothing else but a delayed result of the ANC campaigns. Whilst the present demand for more land has been one of those demands for "complete" independence, comprising the return of ports, capitals and railways, it arises out of a completely new movement of African self-determination. This is also true of the Black Power Movement.

Interlinked with the Bantustans was the question of dialogue. Both in Africa and the OAU, there were tendencies to accept certain aspects of dialogue connected with the policy of Bantustans in a manner which may isolate the ANC. So that merely to ignore the issues of Bantustans and dialogue would be negative.

At home, a problem similar to that of Bantustans also affected other racial groups like the Coloureds and Indians. As a result their political consciousness has been considerably sharpened. The necessity to organize these groups was thus emphasized.

What is required of the ANC in this situation is to constantly review tactics on the Bantustans and give a positive political lead to the movement for African nationalism developing in South Africa today. We must give this movement direction and guidance instead of merely pointing out its negative elements. We must not think of our people as reverting to tribalism. Instead, we have to sharpen and deepen the contradictions that exist between the designs of the ruling class and the aspirations of our people. It should be clear that when we say we support the movement, we do not mean the Bantustans because the Bantustans are not our people. They are a fraud and a bluff and should be exposed for what they are.

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