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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
Conducted by Howard Barrell,
London, April 8 1991
OK, the status of these documents that you offered me, and how I can use them, and what their origins are. If we could start with the MCW Manual. When was this drawn up, and what is its status?
OK, over the years, I think going back to the late 1970s, cadres going back on MCW courses in the Soviet Union came back with notes. The Soviets were very unhappy - in theory these notes were not ever meant to have been taken away. But informally that had been going on for years. When I arrived in Lusaka in 1987, there were various forms of these notes in existence - in a very bad kind of state. And the one that I have given you was, in fact, a second round draft. What we first did was to just put the original notes into a more useful form. This particular document than was drawn up by MI [Military Intelligence], trying to make it more accessible and adding in, trying to integrate it with ANC policy and strategy - so there are sections on the four pillars of ANC strategy, etc. But the essential part of the course itself remains intact. There was controversy over producing this. MHQ officially took the Soviet position that this stuff should not be released. There was a feeling in MHQ, for example, that the series of articles in Umsebenzi on secrecy should not have been published; that was failing our hosts, agreements which had been made with the Soviets on that. The counter position to that was that the enemy was in possession of all this information anyway, and I think that was the thinking that led to the production of whatever has come out in Umsebenzi. And in the same way we produced this little book. It was never used as such; it was distributed to several departments who used it themselves. But it was never officially accepted as a document. We actually used in our training, as did other documents.
Now, you mentioned that there were two stages. When was the first drawn up, and when was any subsequent revision made?
The first one was basically a transcription of notes that various people had. That would have been done in, I think, 1987.
As late as that?
Ja. I mean up until then there were very badly photocopied notes around that people were using. This, in this form, I think it was done, I think, mid-1988.
This particular version that I have is mid-1988?
Now, when did people first start receiving MCW training?
As I understand it it was about 1977.
Some people have suggested 1974, 1975. Would you have any reason to dispute that?
Other than that I remember being told by individuals, who seemed to be fairly definite and fairly authoritative, I mean 1977 sticks in my mind. And particularly it was related to a whole, I think, new thinking in training that came about post the 1976 generation coming out.
And what was that new thinking?
Well, I mean only to the extent that there was now a larger body of forces, as I would understand it. There was for the first time a - there was a more systematic and comprehensive approach to training as a whole, to political training, its relationship to straight military skills and so on. I mean it's an impression I have. I don't know too much about the details of training before that. So it's the impression.
And the origins of MCW. How would you classify MCW. Is it a doctrine? Is it a - what is it?
I think MCW is a framework for underground struggle based primarily on the experience - I mean I think it's a very specific view put together by the Soviets based originally on the experience of the Russian revolution. As I understand it, the centre in Moscow which carried out the training had over a number of years, if not decades, made a specialised study of revolutionary processes and had modified their thinking into this training over a period of time. So that I think MCW in this form is very much a product of the centre in Moscow. To me - I don't know if this is jumping the gun - but I mean the one problem with MCW as it was received in the ANC was that, from 1977 onwards, I think almost all middle cadre, or elements who became middle cadre, and initially junior leadership were receiving MCW training. The leadership itself never received it. And so there was a misunderstanding of what MCW was about. I mean, to this day I think that half the leadership view MCW as secrecy. So that, what you learned in MCW was how to counter-surveil, etc. The more fundamental flaw within it was that, I think, MCW is a framework for armed underground struggle which is based on the premise of the existence of a political leadership inside the country. And this was never tackled in the way in which MCW was taught to cadres in the ANC. Or, I don't think it was even seriously looked at by those within the leadership who understood MCW and saw the central importance of MCW to our underground strategy. So that, it was a whole framework which didn't have a foundation. And I think that was the fundamental flaw.
Two things. First of all how would you characterise the frameworking of struggle which the leadership who came out in the 1960s received? If post-1977 is MCW training, then how would one classify what the leadership received in the 1960s?
As I would understand it, there was a, were very separate concepts in which people were trained. I mean there was politics, there was political struggle; and there was military. And they were not linked. There was - I think in a lot of early MK training - there was politics on the one side and there was guerilla tactics on the other. There was no combined concept of underground struggle, as I would see it. I think that in the process - I mean from the experience of underground struggle with the launching of MK - I think threw up a whole practical approach to struggle that was very real and workable that was never carried through. I think one of the problems in the ANC has always been that we have gone for outside support and never kind of, not integrated that support with our experience. I mean on the more basic level, whereas the armed struggle was launched with improvised weapons - whether it was stealing dynamite from road construction companies, whatever - as soon as we went outside and go training, that tradition disappeared, and we reached a stage where cadres had the view that, unless AKs were delivered and limpets were delivered, there was no conceivable possibility of launching any struggle.
Can I take you up on that point? I have been looking at the experiences of other revolutionary struggles and in almost every case, in the early attacks in the launching of some form of armed struggle, the first imperative is to use those first attacks to capture weapons from the enemy inside the country. Why - armed struggle resumes in about 1976 - how would you explain the fact that the ANC never makes this an imperative, at least not until 1985 with the famous First Call? I've looked through documentation - and correct me if I am wrong - but I see not indication...
Well, I would link it to a broader issue. So that, for example, the whole psychology of the ANC: why has the ANC always relied on outside sources of funds? It's never made any attempt to raise its own money. Why, in terms of its training, has it had this kind of super-imposed external training onto itself without integrating that into its own experience? There's been, in my understanding, in MK, there's been no proper programme drawn up at any stage which integrates the experience of our struggle with the experience of other struggles and the technical material that's been given to us from outside. In the same way, the attitude towards arms. Perhaps that comes from the long period of the 1960s and early 1970s in exile where, for a long time, it's almost as if, in the mid-1970s, the struggle was relaunched afresh on the basis of more than 10 years of exile, which involved largely in the beginning, conventional training, whether in Egypt, in the Soviet Union, wherever. So that there wasn't continuity. And anyway, I think that the early operations of MK in exile were in a very kind of conventional guerilla sense that was guerilla warfare a la rural conditions, and there was no concept of underground struggle, as such.
OK, you have raised some factors. But can you answer your own question: why there should be this break; why the ANC should not have developed an internal, or seen the requirement to develop an internal sustainability, an internal self-reliance on weaponry. You've mentioned the exile syndrome - I can see how certainly it can give rise to certain habits to, using the word loosely, of sponging off outside forces. But what is it in the outlook or character or psychology of the ANC that doesn't allow it, or doesn't encourage it to go for internal self-reliance in South Africa?
I don't think I have a full answer to that. Again, I would just go to a general perception that I think that, in looking at our struggle from a purely documentary point of view, I think there has historically been a huge division between rhetoric and action. I mean I think that Strategy and Tactics is a very fine and noble document...
Ja. And it sounds like this is a movement that has a clear idea of what it is doing. But that bore no relationship, in my opinion, to practice. And that practice has always been dominated by short-term, pragmatic pressures. So that, what MK became over the decades was the practical results of the objective problems it was facing at any one time and the practical resources that it had at its disposal at any given time - that that dominated. And I think going back to why we launched the armed struggle. I mean the same tradition is there. There was no, in my view, concept of - there was no strategy in the launching of the armed struggle. It was a pragmatic decision, in saying other forms of struggle have exhausted themselves; let's try something else. There was no concept stated anywhere that the ANC launched an armed struggle to seize power, or what the role of armed struggle in the seizure of armed power might be. It was purely just another way of exerting pressure.
I'd like to go on to the other documents. There are many issues of this type which we are going to return to. OK, this intelligence manual, when was this one drawn up?
At the same time as the MCW manual.
Now, can I return to the MCW manual. If I described this as - and I understand this to be consistent with what you say - as a kind of codification of the application of MCW training given to ANC cadres since 1977 or thereabouts, would that be a correct description of this...?
It's that an a bit more. It was drawn up by people who felt that MCW should be better understood and more widely and properly used within the movement. So there was an attempt to draw in other strands and to make the course, which is fairly dry, but to make that slightly more accessible. So it's a, I think throughout, although large sections of it are just the original course notes written in English, rather than Russian English, at various stages in it, there has been an attempt to try to integrate the various concepts of MCW into kind of ANC strategy more generally.
South African conditions and ANC strategy?
Now, these Guidelines on Underground Construction. This document, when is it drawn up?
Right, if I can go off the record here.
This is off the record, right.
Because that - I am not clear as to the status of that document. As I understand it, that document was drawn up, whether directly by Ronnie Kasrils, or by the IPC, or because it was coterminous with a lot of the planning of Vula - so exactly where it fitted in in that framework, and because I was given that document in confidence, I wouldn't like to breach the confidence of others. But, as I understand it, that document was drawn up to motivate - at the time I was given it, I understood it to be motivating in a more pragmatic way, away from the MCW course notes, to explain to the PMC the way ahead. When I was given it, I understood it to be at the time the PMC was again looking at integrated projects; that, in certain areas, MHQ and the IPC were being forced to operate jointly in certain areas. This document came about as part of that process. I think it also came in response to there having been a lot of argument and evidence to the President's Commission in, I think this would have been in the end of 1987, the beginning of 1988, I think, which led to the NEC meeting of July 1988 - have I got my years right? - where there was a supposed new commitment to integrated structures, and which led to the reorganisation of the political department with the IPC being formed. That Ronnie Kasrils and others who had been arguing a strong line that resulted in the NEC decisions of July 1988 then had to follow that through with something more practical, and that this document would have been the outcome of that as well.
Some people have suggested that it's Ronnie Kasrils' evidence and whatever before that President's Commission and, in fact this document, which sees him propelled onto the NEC. What would be your response to a statement like that?
Yes, I mean I think he was undoubtedly the driving force. My understanding is that it was his particular powers of persuasion in conversation with the president that he was able to influence the president to a great degree and then saw things in a new light and was then prepared to question a lot of things that had been going on prior to that. Yes, I think that his evidence to the President's Commission was crucial in terms of his own role plus, I think, it had a huge influence.
So this document, Guidelines on Underground Construction, was drawn up in 1988?
I think so, yes.
OK, can we go back on the record. Now, I've got this Future of the Objector Movement. Now this is a document, as I understand you, from inside the country. Is that correct?
Ja, it is.
And when does that one get drawn up?
Is there a date? Yes there's a date on it.
October 1989. OK, that's fine. I shan't be using this but it will be useful kind of - I have had an interview, by the way, with an ECC guy who has given me a lot on the relationship between them and their movement.
Right. Either way. There was just one other document which I had there which was a paper by Tebogo, who is Gebuza, on insurrection.
When is that one drawn up?
It was - I don't know when it was originally written. Should we stop for a moment and I will get it.
[Break in tape]
I'd like, now, to go back a bit. Can you just give me a very brief biography of your relationship with the ANC.
I deserted from the South African army in June 1976. I cam abroad, spent a year in the United States. I went to the United Nations to testify about my experiences in the army and then was recruited into Okhela. Came back to London in September 1977 and was part of the foundation of the first Salscom - the South African Liberation Support Committee - one of the kind of splinters that formed out of the dissolution of Okhela. In Salscom we formed the South African War Resisters, at that stage basically organising on an anti-ANC basis...
On an anti-ANC basis?
Ja. Came together with an informal grouping of war resisters within the ANC to form Cosawr at the end of 1978. I worked for Cosawr and, from 1979 onwards, worked as a researcher, or as I researcher I was then drawn in to various intelligence structures - I wasn't too sure at that stage. I mean, essentially at that stage I was reporting to Nat. At a later stage, I was through middle men reporting to the PMC. At the foundation of military intelligence sub-department in 1984...
is it not 1983?
I always thought it was 1984.
I don't know. The reason I am asking is that the reorganisation of - you know the RC becomes the PMC, and MI is set up in 1983, when Ronnie Kasrils takes over as head of MI in 1983, so that's why I'm asking.
Right, I think it existed on paper for some time because he then went for training through the end of 1983, that's when he went for his intelligence. And, so, in terms of getting the ball rolling, MI starts in 1984, and I was drawn into it then, working from London. Went for training myself in 1985. And, in 1987, transferred to Lusaka where I worked for MI under MHQ. Up until the beginning of 1990.
OK, can we go back to one or two of these details? Can you tell me about Okhela. What really was Okhela?
It has a rather shady history which I am not - to this day - I am not to clear about...
[Interruption for phone call]
OK, before the break I asked you what the origins of Okhela were?
Right. Originally, a number of Europeans, including Breyten Breytenbach set up a support group for the ANC to do various, some of it research, some of it kind of direct-action information gathering in Europe to try to uncover some sanctions-busting, some various trade connections, etc. I think involved in that were a number of French and Dutch intellectuals and leftists, ultra-leftists.
What date are we looking at?
Early 1970s, I think. For reasons I am not too clear of, Breytenbach broke away from that. That group was initially called Atlas. There was a feeling that there needed to be an all-South African group. There were ideological problems within the group anyway. And there were discussions involving the president and Johnny Makatini to create a secret white support group, and Breytenbach and a couple of others. And Breytenbach, using his connections in the French left, then launched Okhela. And certain work was carried out in Europe. The tobacco auction houses in Amsterdam were - whether they were broken into or whether it was just from their rubbish - some information about Rhodesian sanctions-busting was done. There was the release of information to do with Mirage sales, gathered again, I think, by the French left through Breytenbach at a time when, in fact I think the South African embassy was moving premises - and they got a driver in, something like that. There was a Mobil oil sanctions-busting case through Mozambique, Rhodesian oil arriving through Mozambique, which various researchers passed on the information, and it was released through Okhela. So there was some of that kind of stuff. It was a very small band of people. What developed out of that, though, was a - in discussions, particularly with Johnny Makatini, of which it is claimed OR Tambo was aware and part of to some extent - there were discussions that there was a need for, on the one hand, there to be whites in the struggle, not purely within the confines of the SACP, and that, anyway, these whites happened to have a perspective that, which was a kind of nationalist as opposed to a communist perspective of the struggle. So Okhela became very much a kind of a pet project for Makatini - indirectly, I understand, at that stage for OR Tambo - to try and counter the supposed influence of minorities within the SACP and that influence over the ANC as a whole. By the time I joined in 1976, Breytenbach had got into South Africa at that stage - against the advice of Makatini and OR Tambo, who basically disowned Okhela, or there was a big ruction because the ANC would not support Breytenbach because these embarrassing facts would come out. So there had been a rift. Although, when I was recruited into Okhela, I was taken to see Makatini for approval.
What was Makatini's job at that time?
He was the rep at the United Nations, ANC rep at the United Nations.
And he would travel around a lot?
Because he had been chief rep in France and Algeria that's where the original contact had been established and, at the time that MK was receiving training in Algeria, various Okhela individuals were taken to the camps in Algeria. Ja, I mean basically it was that connection. Okhela then - at the time I joined - it was literally three of us and no more than that, although there had been various attempts to recruit a wide range of people: Neville Curtis, Peter Hain, all kinds of people were being drawn in.
When you say there were three of you, who were the other two?
Don Morton and Barend Schuitema.
Really? Now what is Breytenbach's relationship to Okhela at that point?
Well, he was in prison for having been caught on an Okhela mission.
Right. So who is in Okhela when Breytenbach first goes back?
Basically Morton and Schuitema essentially.
Really, just three people?
There were various others who had been involved in one way or another. Two journalists in Johannesburg - I can't remember their names now - various others, I mean, I know that, at the time that Breytenbach was caught that various elements of the left - Karel Tip amongst them - were bending over backwards to try and get involved. I mean there was that stage when Nusas was having difficulty dealing with the BC, and so, while I think on the one hand, Breytenbach caused a lot of disruption to the white left in South Africa in 1975, the fact remains that the white left, or quite a large section were bending over backwards to try and get involved.
Why do you say they were bending over backwards?
It's my understanding of - I can't remember the details now, but of the way in which that mission went in terms of how people were linking up with him, were keen to be involved with him, etc. I might be wrong on that, but that's the understanding I had.
Now, OK, notwithstanding Breytenbach's arrest in 1975, or detention in 1975, Okhela continues, does it? Because you're recruited in 1976?
At what stage in 1976 are you recruited?
Now, what is it's brief? What's the state of Okhela at that point?
At the time that I join it's just going through the process of no longer taking its mandate from the ANC or from Makatini, because Okhela expected the ANC to support Breytenbach. when they didn't, they saw that as a betrayal. I in fact - when I joined Okhela I was then, because I had had publicity about my desertion from the army, I was used in a public statement to declare that Okhela was alive and well and continuing to kind of follow in Breytenbach's footsteps. There was an attempt on the one hand to try and persuade a broader section of the white community that Breytenbach represented the way forward for progressive white South Africans. The practicalities of Okhela breaking up was that, in conjunction with elements in the black consciousness movement, we were setting up an underground printing press in Botswana, where we were going to produce propaganda aimed at whites. Two of us would have been underground in Botswana; I would have crossed the border on a weekly basis to go and post all this stuff from inside the country. It was a very romantic project. The thing fell down because of our growing mistrust within the - the very particular break-up was to do with Schuitema controlling all the documentation, the false documentation needed for the operation, which was coming through Solidarity in France. And he would not disclose his links or exactly what was going on. In that process, that together with personal and political mistrust, led to quite a dramatic break-up in the middle of the Arizona Desert where we were undergoing amateur guerilla training, with rocks being thrown at people and all kinds of wonderful things [laughter].
Now, when does that break-up finally come?
It took - well, de facto, it took place in the United States in about May, June, July 1977. In practice, it took place round about December 1977 in London.
Now, when you talk of the links with Solidarity in France, that's Henri Curiel, that chap?
Ja. As to details of that, they had provided Breytenbach with his document when he went into the country. As history has it now, I understand that, prior to him applying for a South African visa, every South African consulate in Europe had been instructed that if someone with the name of Christian Galaska on a French passport approaches you for a visa, don't ask any questions, give him the visa. So that there was...
Penetration. Whether that was Schuitema himself, or whether that was Solidarity has not been established.
What's your assessment of what Schuitema was?
I think Schuitema was a psychopath or something psychotic, and that he - he had a particular history. He was a founder member of the Dutch Anti-Apartheid Movement. And I think at that stage did, genuinely did some good anti-apartheid work. I mean I think he was an unstable personality, as his kind of later history shows. And I think that in my understanding, when he gave himself over to the enemy, they debriefed him thoroughly and let him go despite his request to work for them. They didn't want him; they wouldn't rely on him. Which, I think, basically summed him up.
And the funding of Okhela? Did you ever establish where this money was coming from?
During my time it was coming from individual supporters in the United States. I mean the basic funding trail we were on was kind of liberal foundations, particularly there were a lot of young, Vietnam generation rich Americans who had inherited vast amounts from their parents and had set up lefty-type foundations. It was from those kinds of sources.
And was Morton based in the US?
All the time that you were involved he was based in the US?
What was his first name? I can't remember.
And he was a reverend in which church?
He was a Methodist minister who had to leave South Africa over - on the one hand he had got involved in the death in detention of, I am trying to remember which case it was, somebody who fell out of the window; it was partly that; there were all kinds of things going on with him having an affair with a young daughter of an influential parishioner. There were various things.
And this training in guerilla warfare in the Arizona Desert? Who was giving it, or what was the...?
Basically ourselves. I had just come out of the South African army. I was doing part of it. We had a guy - I don't remember his name now - who was an American who had worked with the native Americans and was used to the desert and had some kind of basic desert survival training. But otherwise, it was pretty kind of rough and ready, out in the desert for about two weeks in the middle of nowhere, with pellet guns and various things.
OK, now, if I want to get a better understanding of Okhela - OK, Johnny's dead - who do you think I should go to? Or should I interview you on it in more detail?
Yes, the one journalist who has an obsession for the subject is David Beresford. He has loads and loads of files on the subject. I think at one stage he was planning to write a book, I think he's obviously moved on since then. But he was very interested in it, and I am sure he knows a lot of the history, more than I do.
So, in the early days of Okhela, the time when Makatini and apparently Tambo as well were supportive of the idea or perhaps even hosting it, would the money for Okhela have come from the ANC?
As I understand it no.
Not? Still from these sort of private sources?
Ja. I think there had been money from Europe as well, and money was being laundered through the Anne Frank Foundation in Holland and there were some European sources of funds. But they all tended to be these independent type. Earlier than that I don't really know. I can only talk for the period that I was [involved].
Now, OK, it's after 1976 - when you get recruited, as I understand you, it's about two or three months after the June uprisings - in your personal case, what's the motivation for going into Okhela?
Basically, in my case, I had just burnt my boats. I had come out, I had just left the country confused. But, through going publicly with my story about my experiences in the army, I realised I had burned my boats and that I therefore needed to do something. And the first people who came along to recruit me with a very romantic idea of the struggle were Okhela. And I bought it. I mean it was - in retrospect, because we were kind of on the outskirts and having to fight as a minority, I think I learned a lot of politics in it. It was obviously, in retrospect, the wrong course in my view; it was down to inexperience, and it looked like a good idea at the time.
And then in Salscom, what was the basis of the anti-ANC approach?
On the one hand, we had close links with the BCM and we viewed the ANC as trying to control forces it didn't represent inside the country and that it had a monopoly of power within solidarity circles in the West that we felt was unfair. And we therefore, on one level, on ideological grounds, tended towards a BCM view of the struggle, and, on another level, linked to that, saw Salscom trying to form an alternative power base. So, we very consciously were trying in a way to create some alternative to IDAF in its funding. I mean, for example, involved in it was - I mean Salscom set up a board of trustees, a separate group, which involved on the past financial controllers of IDAF. I am trying to remember what his name was, and I can't. It was the one before Wilfred Grenville-Grey. He ended up in - he was a British guy. So we had various individuals who were involved in solidarity work, but critical of the anti-apartheid movement, IDAF, the ANC, that kind of axis.
And who in the BCM were you involved with in the Okhela days and in the Salscom work?
In the Okhela days it was through an ex-PAC guy in New York called Rhodes Gxoyiya...
How do I spell that?
Ja. Who was - I mean there have been various funny things written about him, I don't know. He was working for the National Council of Churches, I think, at the time. He maintained contact with people like Jeff Bakwa in Botswana, Harry Nengwenkulu. When we came to London, it was basically through the BPC types and the SSRC, so it was the Chris Matebanes; Mashinini's representative here was a young student - I don't remember his name now. We had links both with the BPC and the - no, in fact, by then Mathebane, they were calling themselves the BCM.
OK, and when does the change come for you. When do you move over to forming Cosawr and so on?
Well Salscom had this broad agenda of trying to create an alternative power base within the solidarity movement as a whole but in particular realised that if it was going to go anywhere it needed a particular issue, which was the war resistance issue. And South African War Resisters was set up, which actually, in my opinion, was a very vibrant organisation made up of war resisters with a fair amount of democracy, although immature and inexperienced as it was - a lot of commitment from people to do things. We had a publication called Omkeer - there were three issues written - which was distributed inside the country. There was, I think, quite a commitment to looking at what was going on within the military. But as - through about six months of work within South African War Resisters, you realised that if you wanted to get anywhere you had to deal with the ANC. I mean you just couldn't survive politically. And, further, what started as a pragmatic thing and, increasingly with contact with the war resisters working within the ANC, with the reality of dealing with the Anti-Apartheid Movement, there was a slow move until Cosawr was set up directly - in fact at the founding meeting of Cosawr, both the ANC and the Anti-Apartheid Movement were present.
[End of Side A]
A war resistance issue into a better political perspective, but it also lost a lot of the vibrancy - it got caught into the bureaucracy of the ANC. And I think from that point onwards, things were not done that should have been done and, if historically one looks, one of the huge weaknesses in the struggle is that no-one has seriously looked at sinning over elements of the enemy's armed forces. In six months in South African War Resisters, we did more in that field - or, at least we got the ball rolling in that field. And the formation of Cosawr put a total dampener on that. And Cosawr, 10 years later, was still waiting for ANC headquarters to give the go-ahead on various ideas of what could be done.
What sort of ideas are you talking about?
About active organising within the military, in particular, of distributing propaganda within the military.
And these were feasible ideas?
Ja, I don't think they had necessarily been fully worked out but there had been a drive to say that was the key area that had to be looked at, whereas Cosawr was channelled into solidarity work abroad and into looking at draft resistance as a more important issue than resistance within the military. I mean, through all my years in Cosawr, I remained a critical minority of the approach taken. And it was very much the idea which the ANC in its wisdom has thought about everything and that the reason that there wasn't the go-ahead on any ideas or any drive coming back - I mean at no stage did the ANC say to Cosawr: Look, this is an important area; get your act together and go ahead and do it. There was just no response from Lusaka.
Where were these suggestions being channelled to?
Cosawr would meet with the senior ANC representatives in London who would pass on things to Lusaka, and nothing would ever come back. I mean there were certain internal mailings and things done, but I mean it was kind of very peripheral. And conversely, there was a view in Lusaka that: Oh, well, Cosawr exists; therefore the issue of resistance within the military is being dealt with. I mean I think it's a whole separate topic, the question of why particularly from the MCW perspective that half of MCW is supposed to be working within the enemy's forces, that the ANC consistently paid lip service to the idea but, in practice, did absolutely nothing.
Again, I think it was a pragmatic thing that--. In my view, what should have happened is that, whether or not one had a separate department, you needed individuals working full-time in the area; there needed to be a kind of organisational commitment to the issue. And, because various departments - I mean the issue fell between various stools as to whose responsibility this was: was it DIP, was it political, was it military? The various departments felt they had their hands full with not being able to fulfil their already existing obligations. So it was always passed off. And it was kind of one of those things that was allowed to drift. I think also that there wasn't a clear understanding that, in fact, resistance within the military could have played an important role. I mean it was always thought, well, basically because in the early stages it was seen as: well, the military is white and therefore we might have a few draft resisters and morally that's great, but politically it has no major effect, it will have no major effect on the outcome of the struggle. At the time that the ECC was formed and the issue became higher profile, I mean again it got caught into being handled by that section of the leadership who, rather than seeing the underground struggle as being key to the development of the ANC's strength, it was ad hoc discussions taking place abroad with internal leadership, in this case with the ECC or with Jodac, or whatever. And so that there would be regular meetings between either ANC officials or Cosawr-mandated officials to discuss with these people to glean - basically, what they were more interested in was gleaning information as to what was going on. And there was always the feeling that: Well, we sitting outside don't really know what's going on. There was incredible tailism that developed within...
Will you explain tailism to me?
That all that Cosawr and the ANC could do on the issue was support the initiatives being taken inside the country - the ECC for example was best placed to make any decisions that were necessary. And therefore there was, the ANC and Cosawr were not in a position to take leadership or to initiate anything in regard to resistance against or within the military.
Now, what I'd like to understand a bit better is the relationship that develops between Cosawr and the ANC. Cosawr was set up in 1978...
Ja, end of 1978.
End of 1978. How would you characterise the reality of the relationship between Cosawr and the ANC?
Cosawr as a committee existed as a totally independent organisation under informal ANC control. Therefore, certain people on the committee would regularly liaise with the ANC. Unbeknown to the rest of Cosawr, a separate structure called Craw - Conscripts Resist Apartheid War - that term actually came, that was the slogan used on leaflets sent into the country. This was an ANC committee consisting of certain people on the Cosawr committee plus a full-time ANC representative which was set up, on the one hand, supposedly to look at strategy dealing with the armed forces but, in reality, all it did was to produce internal propaganda. And that was done without the knowledge of Cosawr.
When is Craw set up?
1979, 1980, somewhere around there. I can't remember exactly.
And who - I don't know if you can answer this; it shouldn't create a problem - but who were the individuals in Cosawr who were involved with the ANC, who were they reporting to in the ANC?
Well, in most cases given that it was London, it was Aziz Pahad. I mean various other ANC officials were appointed as the kind of liaison person at various stages. I mean at one stage it was formally said it was the chief rep that would liaise, but essentially it was Aziz Pahad.
And Craw, who were the Craw people reporting to?
To Aziz Pahad. At various stages, it was other individuals but essentially.
Now, I'd like to raise a question that arises from another interview. I understand that from about 1980, 1981 onwards, or certainly for a two year period from about 1980, 1981, there are two lines coming in to the ECC people inside South Africa. The one line coming from the Frontline State machineries is saying that there should be resistance to conscription, that the main line, the main emphasis should be that people do not go into the South African military. The line apparently coming from London - and Aziz Pahad is the name given - was that, in fact, some people should go in, although people should be encouraged to go in and do political work or constitute some kind of dissident force. Does this accord with your understanding?
Absolutely. I wouldn't say that was Aziz's line; I would take responsibility for that line, the London line, along with a number of other people in Craw. Aziz supported it at certain points; at other times he didn't. A case in point is Auret van Heerden, who went into the military on the basis of consultation in London, and then he was attacked by the individuals in Botswana. Ja, I mean, personally I know that I was always in favour of encouraging people, where possible, to go into the military. And Auret's case became complicated because he happened to go in having been president of Nusas, and so he was in a high profile position. And that confused the issue. But where the line - as I understand the line in Botswana was developed by the individuals there. That is Heinz Klug, Patrick Fitzgerald, Marius Schoon. They developed their position from their own perspectives and, obviously, from certain people they were dealing with inside the country. Because they at that period happened to be connected to various structures for other purposes, their position, this personal position of theirs was seen as a policy of the structures that they were attached to. And therefore when they told that to certain individuals they regarded that as the policy. In fact, Lusaka never had a policy. And, at that stage, I know there was a flurry of memos going from London down to Lusaka which were never responded to. And I think similarly there were memos going from Botswana up. So Botswana would be writing to Lusaka, saying London is sabotaging things. London would write to Lusaka and say Botswana is sabotaging. There was a pamphlet produced in Botswana which went into the country which, inter alia, attacked Auret van Heerden. Now, I mean, the pros and cons of anything else that Auret might have done - but saying that his decision to go into the military proved he was an enemy agent - I mean I think one of the more scurrilous personal decisions taken by cadres. So that, I mean I think there was major confusion and, in essence, the confusion came because the ANC leadership never took the issue seriously and developed coherent policy. Craw itself, which I was a member of at that time, was split on this issue. I mean at that stage, if I remember correctly, there was no-one in Craw who was arguing the Botswana position as such, but I know I was attacked for sticking my head out and supposedly trying to rock the boat. And the position which was in Craw and which kind of coloured the whole of Cosawr's period is that Lusaka knows best and, if Lusaka hasn't told us and we are now getting flak - individuals come from inside the country and say you are causing confusion - the answer is to draw back rather than to clarify it. Saying: No, this is what we are believe we are taking initiatives; we need to move ahead. So, I don't think it was Cosawr or Craw's fault. It was headquarters' fault.
I want to pick up two things from that. Firstly how would you formulate the position that you personally were pushing forward?
The key to any war resistance work had to take place within the military. And that's not to say that draft resistance was important but that one needed a dual strategy...
You mean that draft resistance was "not important", you said...
Ja, I mean that the two had to go side by side. The call coming from Botswana - I seem to remember it was worded that "under no circumstances" should anyone at any stage go to the military.
Do you remember when that line comes out from Botswana?
It was at the stage over the Auret van Heerden case, what have you.
I argued strongly against that position and I think Craw as a whole argued against it, saying that, no, we need to keep our options open. What I argued which became the minority viewpoint was that the overriding priority should be within the military and that everything else was supplementary to that.
Now, you said that you wrote memos to Lusaka headquarters, through Aziz presumably, requesting clarification of the position from Lusaka, a kind of authoritative: this is policy. Can you recall approximately how many memos of that kind you would have sent over what time period?
About once every six months for about three or four years.
Over what time period?
1982 through to 1985, something like that. I mean I can't be...
OK, that would be an accurate reflection of the broad frustration?
All right, we are going to return to this question in different forms again and again and again. What I need to know is: how does one explain this apparent inability at leadership level, on this particular issue now, to formulate policy, even if in ambiguity?
Well, on this particular issue, no single department saw it as its responsibility. So the buck was passed. And, if it was ever discussed, it was so low down the agenda and there were more pressing immediate matters to discuss that it was just overlooked. Plus the fact that at that stage, both from the Craw perspective and the ANC perspective as a whole, the issue was seen as a white issue. So that the question of what was going on the in the bantustan armies wasn't seen at that stage as central. I think that became more of an issue in Lusaka - I know - from 1985, 1986 onwards; that there was at least a consciousness in Lusaka that that was an issue. But it was never taken up by anyone.
OK, I want to move now to more general things in the interview, per se. Should we go on until a quarter to and then take a break and resume?
OK. We might get interrupted here, so maybe that will be a good time to take a break.
OK, I want to jump around if you don't mind. What is your understanding of when precisely Central Operations Headquarters of MK is set up?
To be honest, I have absolutely no idea.
Right. OK, well, I understand it's in 1976. I'm just trying to find out how long it is after the Soweto uprising. It's an area in which I can't get clarity. The second thing is: what precisely is your understanding of when Special Operations is set up?
Again to be precise...
OK, well I understand it's early 1980. But I am looking for confirmation of that.
Well, late 1979, or early 1980.
I would have suspected it could have been earlier, but...
I know that Slovo is pushing for it for a long time, but a Special Operations section, which falls under Tambo is decided upon in the 1979 Strategic Review, but is only set up, I mean the ball starts rolling in early 1980. That's my understanding.
I mean I have no basis to kind of question that at all.
Well, what would have been your impression, that it had started earlier?
The impression is, over a period of time, from discussing with cadres of the 1976 generation - so dates are a problem in that - but just knowing that there had always been in my consciousness, there had always been the divide, that once the 1976 cadres became operational, certain of them were involved in Special Ops.
I think that may stem from the fact that Slovo had been in Mozambique for a long time and developed this group Obadi Mokgabudi and Barney and those guys - Dikeledi - and developed this cadre, this group of people who subsequently all become Special Ops...
There's this kind of chosen set of disciples and whatever that Slovo develops. Right. I'd like to go on to different sets of statistics. Now, you go down to Lusaka in 1987, but you have been working for MI since 1984. What is your understanding of the number of people passing through MK training in the period from your joining military headquarters in 1984?
Those joining MK as opposed to those being deployed?
I'd like to deal with the deployment separately.
If you want to deal with them together, that's fine.
I mean from 1984, I don't have a clear idea of that - even joining. I mean I would - it's such a broad guess - but I would say that from 1986 onwards, one is talking about, I suppose on average, something like 500 coming in each year, something in that range.
So, if I have got an estimate from somebody of about 1,200 a year, you would consider that excessive?
Except for, when was the major influx of the young lions?
1984, 1985, 1986.
There was, at one point, I think a very large influx.
Could we move up the years and see how you would estimate it?
I am just trying to think, of those passing through Lusaka to MK, you are talking about at any one stage there being between 30 and 100 cadres at Chelston staying there for, on average, about a month. I mean it's not something--. I don't have direct experience of that intaking process, so that I mean I have very general impressions of that. I know that the figures - I was quite surprised at one point when I heard how many people were in Angola prior to the move out of Angola. That it was a lot less than I thought. I think this was in, at the end of 1988, that there would have been under 3,000 cadres in Angola...
In military camps?
No, in total.
And, of that, how many would have been in military camps?
In the camps themselves, well, I suppose, there would have been about 2,000 in the camps - another few hundred abroad on various training courses. But, basically, that was it. I mean I expected, I assumed there were closer to 5,000, but--. I mean that came out of kind of informal chats with treasury people - it was discussing food supplies, or shoes, or something like that. But the figures were a lot lower than I though they were.
So your understanding would be about 500 a year. Which years would that cover?
With the exception of that - and to put a date on it - I know that there was a huge influx, young lions influx. Maybe that was kind of 1984 to 1986, that period, that there could have been...
When you say "huge", what do you mean?
I think in those years there could have been closer to a thousand coming in. Ja, but otherwise, I think the number is less.
Now would your figures include, your estimate or guesstimate that you've given, would they include people going across the border for two or three month quick training courses in the forward areas?
No, not in the forward areas, no. But those going for crash courses in Angola, ja it would include them.
How long would a crash course run?
Ja. Individuals brought in by particular departments, put into a course, and whipped out. Kept in, some kept in - I've forgotten what the camp was where crash courses were done. Others kept in flats in Angola.
Can you recall what the name of the camp was where the crash courses were done?
I always forget which camp was which. I mean having no direct experience--. I mean I went in and out of Luanda quite often but I wasn't directly involved in the camps themselves.
OK, now what is your knowledge of the number of cadres deployed at various times?
Well, for 1990, I would estimate a maximum of 100.
Ja. For 1989, I've got a feeling there was a figure given - somewhere around 240. 1988, I would have said round about 250. And years going back before that between 200 and 300.
A year. I think at a certain point in the earlier part of the 1980s, the number could have been higher. But, from my direct experience of not briefing everyone, but of being involved in the process of briefing cadres going in, that it was in the 200 to 250 range.
In which years?
In the second half of the 1980s, ja.
And you said in the earlier part of the 1980s the figures might have been higher. Which years would you be referring to?
I mean this is pure guesstimate that I would have thought round about 1982 to 1985 there could have been 400 to 500. I mean that's a totally kind of...
What's the basis of that estimate?
Just discussions. Discussions not about figures, but about what people that I knew who were working in MHQ at the time were doing.
How good were the records the ANC kept of a) the people coming into MK and b) the people being deployed?
MHQ's records of people coming in were very poor. Basically they relied on Nat in Luanda to keep those records. The recording offices of Nat did the screening; they had the record of who was where, whatever. The regional command in Luanda, I take it, used Nat's records. I mean given that there was, there was always quite a confused relationship between Nat and the regional command in Luanda as to - that Nat in Angola always had a dual loyalty to Nat headquarters in Lusaka and to the regional command. But I think that things were basically handled there. So Nat had personal records on everyone - even those - I heard of a family arriving in Luanda to see the grave of their son who had been killed in Angola. And they couldn't trace them because there was no link between the person's real name and his MK name. It was a particular case where I know that the system fell down because the parents arrived and said show us our son's grave. So I assume that if that was one case there would have been many more similar cases. MHQ kept various lists at various stages of people who had undergone various training, but it never had a clear understanding of what personnel was under its control. Deployment was very much done on the basis of either sending a message to Luanda, saying we need certain people for this area with this training, and regional command in Luanda would come up with them. Or, individuals from the front would go to Angola, go round the camps and personally recruit individuals in training. Basically the chief of staff's department in MHQ I don't think has ever worked as an efficient administrative body.
Why would you say it was never an efficient administrative body?
It was never led in a business-like way. There was never the management of personnel that was its responsibility. Ja, there was a lack of managerial leadership, which was required. And that wasn't the priority in terms of what responsibility of the chief of staff's department was; I think that department has always doubled as a kind of deputy for the chief of the army, plus a kind of trouble-shooting role, kind of holding things together, rather than seeing things in an organised way.
So the records which MK kept, or would it have kept records of deployment?
In theory, the Operations department had those records. In practice, a) because actually they had no physical filing system, so documents were regularly lost, mislaid, no-one knew where to find them. So, people used - I mean I know at various stages when there was a review on: what forces we had where, there was sort of a collective scratching of the heads to say, Oh, no, I remember, we put this unit in that place, and so on. MHQ was an administrative nightmare. There was no proper organisation of documentation, of administration.
I mean is there any good reason? I can understand that the military headquarters of a guerilla army is somewhat vulnerable, and one doesn't want to have records which the enemy or his agents could get hold of. But, your suggesting - as I understand you - you're suggesting this was just rank inefficiency?
Ja. I think it was far more the case of inefficiency rather than security considerations. Absolutely. I know there is no question in my mind. Of my particular period of being there, that was definitely the case.
Now, of the proportion of cadres who went in and were deployed, how would you estimate the casualty rate in the years with which you are familiar? And would you be as specific as you can be?
For 1989, I heard figures that, of those deployed, which I think I am right was about 240, a third had defected, a third had been captured or killed by the enemy and a third were somehow in place, whether active of drifting. Those who had defected would include those who had consciously defected to the enemy plus those who had consciously dropped out of their structure that they had been deployed in.
Could one refer to that as "passive desertion"?
OK, now, of the one third that you say were still ostensibly in place, is there any way of knowing what proportion of that third would have maintained contact with structures outside?
I mean the one big problem that MK has had is that its communications have been very badly organised. I mean one reason for that is, obviously, the efficiency of the enemy. Secondly, is naturally in those situations, you can lose contact. But more importantly I think there was a very slapdash approach to the planning of missions. And so proper communications in many cases, if not most cases, was not set up. And kind of in very brief, ad hoc instructions given to units, they would be told: Oh, well communicate back to us through so-and-so, or find a courier and send us a courier once you have found them. So communications was always very ad hoc. And I would be pushed to put a figure on it, but I think a lot of those that remained in place had actually lost communication, and it might or might not be re-established, depending on the initiative of the cadres involved.
You've been able to give me a figure for 1989. Can we move back. You've been able to give me the proportion of those caught and whatever for 1989. If we move back in the years, what are we looking at?
I would suspect that 1989 was a bad, perhaps the worst year. So I would suspect that those proportions would have been less, particularly in terms of defections. I mean I have no basis to make any kind of thorough speculations. Those 1989 figures, that was told to me by a member of the chief of staff's department. So I regard that as being fairly authoritative. Oh, I mean it's difficult in previous years. Clearly what one hasn't seen over the years is a slow build-up of experience within the underground. So you don't find that, of those deployed in 1982, that you've got a quarter or a fifth of them existing four or five years later. I would suspect the main reason for that after the initial casualties through operations is that, is the kind of slow withering away of forces so that those who remain uncaptured stay in place, they lose communications, or they run out of ammunition, they lose their weapons, and they slowly drift away. I think that's happened in a large number of instances over the years. Quite a few also would return to exile and then--. Sitting outside in Angola you've got a lot of cadres who have been into the country, who for one reason or another left to report back and were then not redeployed. To quantify it, I think I would be dishonest to try and put figures on that. I would rather say that, qualitatively, you didn't have an ongoing snowball effect of experience within the underground which was, to broaden it out, gets put down primarily to the lack of proper leadership on the ground and, linked to that, the proper communications and logistics that such a leadership, if it was properly established, would have had.
[End of Side B]
So we looked at 1989 and you said it was one of the worst years. Why would it have been one of the worst years?
I think that the planning of MK operations and deployment and so on started taking a dive somewhere in the mid-1980s and reached, by the beginning of 1990, had reached, I think, an all-time low. I mean I think there are a number of issues, the prime one being the inefficiency of military headquarters reaching a zenith, which in turn led to a drop in morale of cadres in the forward areas and inside the country. I mean, at that stage, the complications of battles between MK structures and PMC structures, the whole disorganisation of the forward areas meant the...
You said MK structures and PMC structures; do you mean political structures?
No, PMC structures.
So where you had total confusion in the forward areas between, on the one hand, the PMC, the regional PMC structure believing it had authority over everything going on in that area, whereas MK machineries remained in place taking instructions from headquarters.
So it's the old confusion?
Ja, right. Huge problems with infiltration due to, I mean, on the one hand the arrests and what have you in the forward areas, but also due to the structural problems, logistical problems.
How does one account for the drop in efficiency of the military headquarters?
I think to a large extent to do with personnel, who was chosen. It was being run by inefficient managers. To me, a lot of the problems of the ANC on a technical basis do rest in straight managerial problems. In my opinion one of the best things that could have happened was that for the whole of the leadership to go on good American business management courses. It would have improved things a lot. So I think there was a straight technical problem.
Is Chris Hani capable of administration? He's now chief of staff.
I think that has a history. I think historically Chris Hani as a forward commander was one of the few really efficient commanders to set up, in the absence of solid political structures, he took the initiative to create political structures to lead military structures that he infiltrated. So I think he had a very good record.
This is in the course of his Lesotho years?
Ja. And so that there was a period in the west and eastern Cape where things did work. And I know that - I was involved in a number of arguments about the problems between military and political and in certain of those discussions there were present recently exiled ANC members from the Eastern Cape who could not understand what we were talking about. They said that this isn't my experience of things. They were referring to the days of Stofile and so on. And they said: We had underground political leadership; we had military structures who, in one way or another, took their commands from those people.
When you talk about the days of Stofile, you're talking about the Rev Arnold Stofile?
So what was his position?
I don't know but that he was in an underground political leadership as I understand it in that area. So I think that - I am not saying that everything was hunky-dory in those regions, but I think that there had been a sort of major attempt. As a chief of staff, I think, as I said earlier, I think that department has never fulfilled its proper administrative function within the military. I mean maybe to stop and look at it in a broader sense, MHQ consisted - it's two things. On the one hand it's physically the military headquarters which consisted of a number of departments. But the military leadership - and I am referring to MHQ as the military leadership - was not a command staff consisting of heads of departments. It was a collective. So that individuals were appointed to military headquarters as individuals to sit in a collective. So, whether the chief of ordinance of the chief of logistics or the chief of intelligence sat on MHQ, they were not there representing their departments, or accountable to MHQ for their department. That meant that all matters being discussed by MHQ were being discussed and dealt with collectively. So, all these heads of departments would spend their time in Lusaka on a daily basis running around dealing with general MHQ problems, not looking after their own departments. so there would always be couriers passing through town or a problem had developed; a unit had reported back and there had been a security problem or a political problem; and I mean this was a daily occurrence in which these heads of department would be running around Lusaka trying to find individuals to brief or debrief, or sort out a problem - all stuff, in fact, that belonged to the chief of staff's department. I mean they were administrative or welfare matters - I mean by that stage the commissariat wasn't in existence anyway. So you had this kind of very unspecialised leadership with at the same time, structurally an organisation that looked more like a conventional general staff. I mean there was a bit of a paradox in that, I think.
So, now why do you say the commissariat wasn't really operating?
Well, de facto it had been disbanded.
Let me try and think. I am talking here about at headquarters level.
Wasn't Timothy Mokoena appointed commissar?
He was appointed commissar but he had been badly injured in Angola, and was sent to --. And, so, from his appointment, when Chris Hani became chief of staff, Bra T, Timothy, never - I mean already, he was in Angola at the time, I think he was injured soon after that. So he was away in hospital. A few middle cadre leaders were sort of put to head the commissariat in Lusaka.
Doesn't Tshwete become commissar?
I am sorry, that is right. That is right. Sorry. Tshwete becomes commissar. There was malpractice, corruption, a key individual ended up being locked up, I think for stealing funds; I think there were stories about little girls being interfered with, I can't remember the details; basically, the whole commissariat was disbanded. And I am trying to put a time on that. And, up until the beginning of 1990, it had been recreated to service the Lusaka region. So that there had always been a commissariat section within the regional command structure in Lusaka...
The regional command structure of MK. But there hadn't been a national commissariat.
So, let me just understand this. OK, Slovo goes across to the party as general secretary; Hani moves into the chief of staff post; Steve Tshwete moves in to commissar of MK; he's there for a very short space of time, a few months; and then Timothy Mokoena...?
Right. Because Tshwete is then transferred then to the IPC.
Right, now, can we work out when does this corruption get discovered? Or when is it taking place?
I would guess it's - I know the one individual involved would have been put there I think after Tshwete's removal. I would suspect the problem started with Tshwete coming in. He had no experience of MK in its present form. And so, I mean, things slipped. Hani was a good commissar, on a certain level. I think that his approach towards dealing with - his popularity, I think, was built up primarily on the basis of being commissar. I mean most cadres were not directly aware of his prowess as an operational commander, but he was a highly respected commissar. And from his moving on, things started to fall apart. But there was no central strategy from the commissariat's point of view. There was no welfare policy; there was no training policy; there was no political programme. I mean obviously in Angola there was a regional commissariat that was dealing with that, but at a national level it ceased to exist.
So why is Tshwete's time in the commissariat so short?
Well, I don't know what was behind his appointment into the IPC. I presume because he was still recently out of the country and that he was put into the IPC as head of mass mobilisation, I assume on the basis of what people saw as his track record inside the country - whether that was real or not, that was the perception.
Was there any dissatisfaction with him in the military which would have contributed as well?
I think various people had views that he wasn't a suitable candidate for knowing - there was a feeling that an army commissar needed to know a bit about the army and he didn't. Obviously he was a founder member of MK but that didn't mean that he knew the problems of MK in exile.
What kind of people felt this?
I think it was a general kind of feeling among middle cadres, the kind of people I would have been mixing with.
So Mokoena, when Mokoena takes over - my understanding is that, at the time he takes over, he has in fact been injured in Angola?
Sorry, you're right on that, ja. Even his appointment - the same kind of people viewed - I mean Bra T had an immense amount of respect, but he was very much a commander. He was respected for his role in operations in Angola. He was a very quiet, he is a very quiet person - he's not a commissar; he's not a talker; he's not a motivator, other than through example. And the feeling was that he was put into that position on the one hand because they felt it was time to bring him into MHQ, but on the other hand to try and ease off some of the mounting criticism that MHQ was facing from its cadres. I mean, particularly by that stage, with the whole bottleneck of getting people back into the country, there was incredible disillusionment, particularly in Lusaka at that stage. Because you had cadres coming into transit residences. In their mind they were coming for a few weeks on their way home; and some of them sat for literally two to three years in transit residences. And in Lusaka every regular resident of Lusaka had a house with electricity, a stove, a fridge, many had TVs. Most MK residences had no electricity; there would often not be enough mattresses, whatever; I mean their conditions were far worse. They were also in the worst ghettoes in most cases. The classic example being that you have more than half a dozen MK residences in Mtendere and across the road in Helen Kaunda, which is kind of totally difference - it's a kind of middle class Zambian ghetto, I suppose; it wasn't low density but still ghetto-ish. But the regular residents of the ANC in Lusaka lived in Helen Kaunda. And MK were in Mtendere.
How do I spell Mtendere?
M-T-E-N-D-E-R-E. They were in Kaunda Square. They were in Chunga. All the worst of the townships in Lusaka. And the guys who sat - if you were there for a couple of weeks that didn't matter. If you were going to sit for a couple of years, these cadres were on underground supplies which meant they didn't get any money; they were supplied each week with fresh meat, vegetables, what have you, by the regional military command, whereas the regular residents were given money to purchase all their goods. And obviously if you have got money, obviously that means you can buy your beer or whatever else normal human beings want. For MK cadres sitting there, the only way they could buy beer was to sell some of their supplies, which was illegal. That kind of thing - once people were stuck there for a long time - created huge frustrations and an antagonism towards the leadership.
When did these frustrations start, this bottleneck that you have been describing?
It was there in 1987 when I got to Lusaka and it got worse. As to when exactly it started, I'm not sure. I think it started in the early 1980s but got worse and worse as problems increased.
So the status of these people staying for a long time in these transit residences in Lusaka would be that they had been called out of the camps on the understanding that they are going for deployment in the short term in the country, brought to Lusaka and then, for a variety of reasons, being told: No, no, no, you're not going now, not going now, not going now. And then, when the guy asks in two months time: Why haven't I gone? He's told: You're not going now. and so it goes on. Is that what you're talking about? That's the kind of process?
Ja. And when they would complain about welfare problems and so on, members of MHQ would come and berate them and give them lessons about military discipline, giving some kind of lip service to the fact, Yes, we know you have welfare problems and we will look into those. But the commissariat wasn't functioning. I mean by 1989, the kind of middle cadres in MHQ and the regional commissariat, I mean there were certain residences they couldn't go into, because they would other just be shouted out of the residences, or something more than that could possibly have happened. I mean there were occasions when individuals from MHQ did receive a slap about the face or whatever.
What kind of individuals from MHQ are we talking about?
Kind of the assistants to actual heads of departments. Well, I mean I suppose it got to the point where the, when the first Robben Island leadership came out and there was a mass meeting in Lusaka, which was attended by - in fact, there was a big battle to allow the underground cadres to attend this meeting - originally, the leadership didn't want them there - they said that something separate would be arranged - but that mass meeting was totally controlled by the underground cadres. I mean those that spoke were not necessarily the best cadres, but the fact of what they were saying was universally acclaimed by the audience as a whole. And the kind of thing they were saying was, when Raymond Mhlaba got on the stage, everyone cheered and referred to him as commander. And someone stood up in the audience and said: Please, we know there is work to be done inside the country, but comrade Mhlaba we need you out here because we don't have a commander. There were people standing up and saying: Can the leadership explain to us why so many of our cadres are dying before they get into the country? - the problems of casualties in the forward areas and during infiltration; problems with the logistics. I mean an individual from the underground standing up, pointing to the platform and saying: If you leaders want to represent us there is one thing to do, all of you resign now. And they whole hall erupted...
In agreement. And, when someone tried to defend the leadership, they were told to shut up and sit down. I mean it was a bizarre, a kind of mass meeting of a kind the ANC hadn't seen up until then.
Right, now, so Mokoena takes over having already been injured. He presumably has to go off for military treatment? So, what happens to the commissariat?
Initially, there's a kind of middle cadre put in command, and he is eventually pulled in by security. I've forgotten what exactly...
Some form of corruption?
Some form of corruption. So basically, the commissariat ceases to exist.
So Mokoena comes back from his hospital treatment...?
He doesn't come back.
He doesn't come back. Does he ever come back?
Whether now - but, as up to that point - no, because, eventually he's then - a new commissar is appointed at the end of 1989.
Who is it?
M-O-A-B-I or M-O-A-B-E. Who had been in MK at some stage in the past had been, I think, in Prague for some years. That was at the end of 1989. I think that Moabi was then appointed.
And is there any concern expressed over the lack of a commissariat over the period?
Yes, at certain levels there was. But that was never seen as one of the key issues. I think they always got caught up in the day-to-day problems. I mean I think that what happens through that period, that worsening period is an attitude amongst cadres, and amongst the middle cadre leadership of kind of seeing the problems in the wrong areas. I mean that the scapegoat for all of this, in the first place, became the operations department at MHQ, which was a disaster from head to toe. I mean they were just totally incapable of administering deployment or maintaining deployment.
Are you talking about Lihlonolo?
What's his real name?
That's his real name.
Ja. He's known more commonly just as "A".
As Comrade A?
Ja. His deputy - hell, how can I forget - he was Mozambique and then Zimbabwe. He was the chief rep in Zimbabwe - no, not chief rep; he was RPMC, head of the RPMC...
Manchecker is deputy chief of operations?
Is deputy chief of operations, ja.
When does Manchecker become deputy chief of operations?
I think 1988. Plus then a collective which, in theory, had some good people in it. In practice, they were just totally incapable of maintaining a stream of deployment. I mean their operational planning was non-existent. Cadres were being - even the few cadres that were being sent into the country were going without briefings, without proper preparations of documents, without proper clothing. I mean it was just, by 1989, it was absolute chaos. And increasingly, what then happened was, because the number of MK actions were dropping, that, as it was put to me during 1989 in terms of our role in planning operations, is that there was one objective and one alone: to make the graph of actions go up, irrespective of what actions, irrespective of basing of cadres and so on.
When are you told that?
Literally, I am told that in mid-1989.
By Mati [spelling???] but saying verbatim, coming from an MHQ meeting.
Ja. And what operations along with MHQ got involved in was one-off projects, cross-border type projects, which would involve the best part of MHQ for a number of months for a single project. Everything would be geared to...
What, something like that mortar attack on that radar station?
Across the border from Botswana?
Right. I mean another similar operation after that was planned - where was it? - there was a massacre in Bophutatswana over removals, which it was decided by MHQ that they wanted to go and hit the Botswana armed forces that were there. We [MI] were instructed to draw up plans for an operation. Rather than doing that, I put in a memo saying that that massacre had been carried out by a section of the Bophutatswana police under presidential control; that members of the Bophutatswana Defence Force were now posted in that base; that they were not the same people politically that, in fact, 80 percent of the Bophutatswana Defence Force had participated in the rebellion; and that it was out of the question that we should consider attacking it. That position was rejected by MHQ, and plans went ahead to attack these forces; at which stage we just said: Ja, OK, but just didn't produce any report. In fact, I think I wrote a number of memos opposing the plan. But, again, it became an obsession with MHQ.
Did that attack take place?
No, it didn't take place. At the same time, there were cross-border attacks planned over the Zimbabwe border and over the Swazi border - largescale, platoon and greater scale attacks...
That's 30 people, a platoon?
Ja, kind of hit-and-run cross-border raids, which, I mean, this was just MHQ desperate for a couple of headlines to kind of stave off some of the pressure coming onto them for why they weren't producing any goods, real goods.
Where were those pressures coming from?
From the NEC on the one level, and from, on the other hand, from their concept of what it meant to have prestige as a military leadership. And that was to be seen to be hitting the enemy, full stop.
Who in the NEC is being particularly critical of MHQ?
I think it became, by 1989, it had become pretty general, although to what extent they were prepared to voice it is something else. I understand that at one stage there was, I'm not sure if it was a PMC or an NEC meeting where I understand in the corridors there had been caucusing, in which it was agreed that, at that meeting, numerous people would raise a major cleaning up of MHQ including the replacement of specific individuals, including the chief of operations. When the meeting took place, one individual raised the point and everyone else kept quiet; that individual was left isolated.
Who is the individual?
I'd rather not. Not on the record. Off the record.
If you tell me off the record, I'll...
[Break in tape]
[End of Side C]
OK, we are on the record now.
Ja. I understand there was something again in 1989, there was a PMC meeting where MK's record was under discussion and criticised and the army commander basically said: Well, I have done my best; if you are not happy with it, here's my resignation. Which, of course was refused and all discussion stopped. So that I think there was immense pressure. I think that that had been there for a number of years. I mean with all the problems in MK, I personally think that it is true that MK was forced to carry the can for the lack of any alternative and that, whatever the problems of the military leadership, the fact of the matter was that they were left to produce goods that, in the long term, they were incapable of producing. You cannot produce ongoing military results if there is no political infrastructure to keep that military infrastructure alive inside the country. And, so, through my whole period in working directly in MHQ, your daily work was characterised by short-term projects just keeping things moving. There was no, no-one had the luxury, as it was seen, to do anything more than say: What project can we get moving speedily with some results. So any attempts through the planning process to focus on building structures inside the country was always over-ridden by the kind of immediate needs to produce instant results.
I'd like to explore some of the personalities. And, if we could stay as close to my period - in other words, 1986, 1987, if that's possible - what is the relationship like between Modise and Hani?
You want this on the record?
Well, I'm quite prepared to go off the record. But I would like it on tape if I could. And if we want to have it off the record on tape, then I will respect your...
Well, on the record, I think their relationship in each other's company was professional and mutually supportive in a formal sense. There was never, in my experience, any open competition, antagonism, etc. Clearly there were differences behind the scenes. There were political differences, I think, in their outlooks. There must have been tensions through Hani's popularity with the troops and Modise's going through various stages of not having that popularity. At various stages, there were tribal problems. I mean the question of the role of Xhosas - I think the whole issue of tribalism within the ANC, in my understanding, has kind of fluctuated. I mean there have been times when there has been a Zulu problems; there have been times in recent years when there has been a Xhosa problem, and very definitely in the last few years there has been a Xhosa problem - in that, the way in which appointments were made, and particularly once our forces moved to Uganda, that was clearly the case from all I understand of it.
What, do you mean Xhosas were promoted?
Ja. The commissariat in Uganda, for example, was reorganised with every single commissar being a Xhosa, holding a particular political position. And it so happened that Chris Hani was the only member of MHQ who was regularly visiting Uganda. So that was a problem.
Off the record, I understand the fundamental problem between the two goes back, is a personal thing that goes back to just prior to Morogoro. There was a warrant out for Hani. I don't know exactly how it was done, but Hani was up for execution. Now, whether Modise issued those instructions or was carrying them out - I don't the facts of that. But, clearly, when you have got two people having to work together, where the one is responsible for supposedly planning, or having to execute, the other, you are going to have an ongoing problem. I mean the extent to which that affected the politics of it, I don't know.
But, on the record, personally I think that too much as been made of rivalries between Modise and Hani, to the extent that those rivalries were central to the problems of MK. I think that they were almost irrelevant to the problems. The fact of, that within MK there were various individuals in MHQ who were doing things without the knowledge of other members of the leadership, and I am sure there are certain things that the army commander and army chief of staff should have been consulted on that they weren't. To the extent that that happened, it was also happening with other individuals. So, I think that's a general problem. I don't see the Hani-Modise rivalry as being central to the crisis that MK found itself in.
Is that on the record of off?
I said on the record just before that.
Now, were there any basic differences in strategic outlook between different people on MHQ? Or did it ever reach the point where one could identify any strategic outlook? Or was the case that one could not?
I don't think one can. I mean on any particular day you could - that on many a day one could say that the army commander is adopting a militarist position, he just wants actions, and the chief of staff understands the political need for building structures. A week later, you could say the exact opposite. so there was a fluctuation. I think that, on any given day, you could find anyone in MHQ taking either position. I think the overriding fact was that all members of MHQ increasingly were caught up in day-to-day operational needs which eventually...
Ad hoc. And that created a militarism. I mean I think, in my view, there are two separate militarisms that have existed. I mean the one has been a kind of historical militarism of the centrality of the armed struggle within ANC strategy. I think up until the mid-1980s, the one place in the ANC where that perspective was less of a problem than anywhere else was within MK itself. But, I think that, from about 1985 onwards, the operational problems of day-to-day work led to a far more obvious and rampant militarism within MHQ itself, which hadn't been there before.
So, in other words, what you are saying is that, as regards my question earlier, there was no consistent opposition from any organised group within MHQ itself, at that level, at top level, to this kind of overriding militarism within MK?
Absolutely not, no. I think that MHQ became the source, post-1985, MHQ became the source of that militarism. I don't think it had been before that. But again it wasn't something that had been ideologically postulated; it was kind of under the day-to-day pressures of producing goods and not having proper, efficient channels to deploy and have its cadres operating.
Where there any major personality problems within MHQ?
No more so than in the rest of the movement. I mean there was, you could get anyone of MHQ to say something about anyone else in MHQ behind their backs. But, what's new? I mean it was...
There were no two individuals who were consistently at each other's throats?
So, one can't look to personality problems then as an explanation for...?
As a central problem, definitely not, no. I mean it was often easy to fall into those things for one's own ends at particular times. But I really think that it is misleading to read too much into those.
I'd like to look at the decision-making process within MHQ. You've mentioned that people had these different posts; that because of the non-functioning chief of staff's department they would find themselves all running around trying to solve little problems on an ad hoc basis, whether they were in their purview or not. How did decisions tend to be taken? I mean were there daily meetings of MHQ? What was the...?
At one point, it got to the stage of daily meetings. I'm trying to remember. 1989 is the kind of area that is clearest in my mind. By then it had been agreed for MHQ to meet two or three times a week, and for a half-day only. In 1988, meetings got, at one stage, got to a point, in the beginning of 1988, where they were in more or less permanent sitting. I mean it was - all I know from my position is that one's chief was very rarely available for the work of his or her department because they were continually either in an MHQ meeting or fulfilling MHQ tasks separate from their department's tasks.
And, when you arrived in 1987, what was the situation like then?
It was very much the same.
Either continual sitting or the fact of the matter was that one's chief was not, was very rarely available...
When it came to operations or deployment, what was the sort of circulation of the idea? How did an idea or a particular operation, or particular deployment take form? If you can stick as close to 1987 as possible. I don't want to get too far away from my period.
Right. In 1987, what would happen would be that a forward machinery would, in consultation with MHQ, would say that we have the ability now to receive so many individuals to infiltrate. On the basis of that consultation between forward machinery and MHQ, individuals would then be called from Lusaka, given something of a briefing in Lusaka and then passed on to a forward machinery, who would then command and brief those individuals more fully. As the machineries started to break down, that's when the new operations department ran into problems - it was trying to do those things from Lusaka.
When did the machineries break down? Is this with the formation of the service units?
It was a mixture of the formation of the service units, but more importantly it was just through arrests, ongoing arrests - I mean in Swaziland, it was a problem of infiltration that led to serious problems in the machineries. In Botswana it was arrests...
By the Botswana government of ANC people?
Right. And basically, in 1987 the frustration in MHQ grew that forward machineries were not capably leading the cadres on the ground inside the country. Which goes back to the problem of how were those units inside the country meant to survive. And so increasingly MHQ was trying to take more direct control over the deployment and actual instructions given to cadres. Zimbabwe, I think, was slightly different. From there it was the problems of the border and infiltrating - how many cadres they were capable of infiltrating into the country.
OK, so, as I understand you, a forward area machinery would come through to MHQ and say: Look, we have the ability to receive so many people; we want to deploy them on X or Y, or in X or Y area; MHQ usually would supply these individuals to request; they would then be deployed under the command of the forward area machineries?
Ja. And, not just on request. But MHQ themselves in consultation would pressurise the machineries to accept in some cases more people than in fact they should have been accepting.
Which of the forward areas - in 1987, if we can stay around there - were actually operating most efficiently?
I think in !987 the Botswana area. It covered a large area. And most of the infiltration, I mean post-Nkomati, was going through Botswana. The extent to which the military machinery was responsible for those is, I am not too sure of. Because they had a wide area - the Northern Transvaal, the East Rand, through I mean they were putting people into the Cape after the problems in Lesotho. But that became...
And what was the main route of infiltration? Was it Zambia, Botswana, South Africa? Or was it Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa?
It was a mixture of the two - some going through the north of Botswana; I think increasingly it became through Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana.
Now, getting people into Botswana must have been pretty tricky. It's just that Cassinga - is it Cassinga?
Kazangula, I beg your pardon. That must have been pretty tricky. So what is one talking about? Illegal infiltration?
Ja, they used to go across the river in boats.
And then be picked up on the other side by transport?
Ja. They'd have to walk a fair distance and then they were picked up, and then driven down. There was a case, we lost - was it five cadres? - with the boat being overturned by a hippo.
When was that?
1988. In 1987, still a lot of cadres were being flown down to various forward areas. Things tightened up later. But, prior to 1988, there was a lot more air travel into the forward areas.
When does Keith Mokoape take over from Ronnie Kasrils as head of MI?
In July 1988.
When Ronnie goes to IPC?
OK, I want to go to Swaziland now and the problem of infiltration. Now, can I just outline what my understanding is? I think that is probably the best way in. My understanding is that there is a chap called Fear, alias Cyril; there is also Thami Zulu; and they are working in the Natal machinery. What I am not entirely clear on is whether they are working in Natal urban or Natal rural?
There was only one Natal machinery.
Whereas in the Transvaal, you had Transvaal urban and Transvaal rural?
Now, my understanding is that September was Transvaal rural. Is that correct?
Who or what is Medumo?
It was one of the Transvaal machineries.
Well Gebuza is Transvaal urban, or had been for a long time.
Hey. [indicates difficulty in answering which machinery September was in]
Well, can we handle it a different way? Can you tell me what you know about the extent of the penetration which occurred clearly in both Transvaal and Natal MK machineries operating from Swaziland?
The problem had been primarily in Natal, that where you had actual agents infiltrated. And it was Fear primarily, who was chief of operations in Isandlwana machinery and, along with him, you had a number of [others] either put there through him or put there independently, had a number of - I think three or four - other trained agents within the Natal machinery. Thami Zulu, I mean obviously he died still with a question mark hanging over him as to exactly what his position was there. September wasn't an agent; I mean he defected. So there hadn't been the same kind of level of disruption prior to his kidnapping and defection. But Isandlwana, I mean it was kind of through and through. Plus, obviously, because Swaziland is a small place and all of them linked together, that there was a more general thing. But I think in Natal it extended right through their kind of infiltration network, so it was the guides going over the border - I mean it was far more thoroughgoing.
What was the Isandlwana machinery? Was that the Natal machinery?
it wasn't one of several Natal machineries?
And this chap fear, alias Cyril, was the chief of operations?
And what was his real name?
It was also Ralph. Ralph I think was his real name - was it?
You don't remember? Africa Confidential have got a name for him, which I should have brought with me, but I am afraid I just forgot.
I'm trying to think what name his wife went under, whether that was a real name - Jessica, who was also an agent.
She was a coloured woman?
Ja. No, I don't.
Now, when you say that they were agents, has this been established by ANC security?
As far as I understand, ja. That they were recruited and trained and then infiltrated.
Now, Cyril, alias Ralph, alias Fear went to Lenin Party school, didn't he?
I don't know. I mean his wife definitely did.
And they would have been recruited and trained before their dispatch into the ANC?
And when do they come out? Were they 1976 generation?
No, I think - I might be wrong - but I think they came out late 1970s.
Now, a fellow called Rabbit in Natal also, in the Natal machinery I also understand.
What do you know about Rabbit?
He was one of those - whether - he came in through Ralph or else where - I mean I think that he had a base in Swaziland prior to that. Not a lot other than that he was moving around Swaziland a lot and therefore had a lot of contacts.
You don't know what his position was in Isandlwana machinery?
Not an important one. But he was liaising at various times between a number of people. He wasn't important in terms of command, but I think in terms of logistics and so on, he had access. I mean the other problem in Transvaal - I mean it was a short period but it also affected Swaziland was when a guy known as Uncle or Ray, who was the chief of staff in Angola up until 1988, I mean he again turned out to have been an agent infiltrated, I mean a trained agent infiltrated. And he was put in as head of the Transvaal, as head of Medumo.
How do you spell Medumo?
And what was that? Transvaal urban or Transvaal rural?
I'm getting confused because I have forgotten what the other Transvaal structure's name was.
Gebuza in the old days was Transvaal urban.
The problem in those early days was that there were also in Swaziland political - there was a Transvaal urban political and a Transvaal rural political structure. If I could think of the name of the other Transvaal - I mean I worked with them all the time. I can't believe how my memory is--. I'm sorry, my memory fails me.
OK. All right. Now Zweli Nyanda, Gebuza's brother is killed in 1983, that's my understanding.
It must have been around then, ja.
Now, my understanding is that Thami Zulu takes over from him as overall commander of this Natal machinery, this Isandlwana machinery. Is that correct?
Now, how long has the enemy - what is the extent of the enemy's penetration of these Natal machineries now in Swaziland, and for how long does it persist? What is the time-span of penetration?
I think it's from about 1982 onwards. I mean I had a close friend in those structures who was one of the earliest accusers of Ralph, who right from the early stages - no, because he was working inside Natal and then came out, and I am not sure of the exact date, it must have been about 1982, 1983, that he came out - and he was key in Natal operations from Swaziland and from the start he operated on the basis of telling as little as possible to the command structure as a whole because he survived on the basis of his suspicions of things not being right; and his claims fell on deaf ears for a long, long time, to the extent that when Ralph was arrested he was still defended by MHQ.
Ja. That MHQ as a whole remained loyal to him until he supposedly confessed prior to his death.
And Thami Zulu, does he go to his death denying ever having been an enemy agent?
Essentially yes. And my close friend who always saw a big problem with Thami Zulu was never convinced either way of his guilt or innocence. There were some very suspicious things but there were clearly serious charges of corruption to be labelled against Thami Zulu. To what extent those sort of became confused with allegations of being an enemy agent or not is unclear. Some people would say, though, that Thami Zulu's wife was definitely an agent.
Ja. I mean from various practicalities of she being responsible for photocopying maps, sketches of DLBs for weapons and so on which were uncovered, and that kind of stuff. But, again, those are unconfirmed allegations.
What would you estimate your losses as having been as a result of that Swaziland penetration?
From second-hand hearsay, I would say over 50.
Over 50 people?
Ja, but I have no direct personal...
[End of Side D]
OK, on what basis did you give me that estimate? It's from talking to people?
Ja, who would have been involved in that machinery. And people involved in Natal.
And when does it become apparent, when is action first taken to reform this whole machinery because of the extent of this penetration?
Well serious action only takes place with the arrest of Ralph. There had been the odd thing before that. There had been various assassinations of suspected agents before that, various small fry having been caught before that. But it is only with the capture of Ralph followed shortly thereafter by the capture of Uncle, Ray in the Transvaal machinery, which happened a few months after he had been deployed. But, in fact, come to think of it, it was the ambush of those two groups of cadres who were being infiltrated when nine, I think, were killed in two separate incidents - that actually forced matters to a head. It was following that that Thami Zulu was recalled.
When was that?
I mean you know the case.
Yes, I know what you're talking about.
I mean at that stage the whole Natal machinery was called out and a new machinery created.
If we look at the Transvaal machinery, what are the losses as a result of Uncle?
Few in that he was only there for a short time. And I wouldn't even want to hazard exactly.
And what period would he have been there?
It was, I would guess, early 1989; maybe end of 1988.
So it's much later. Now, what are the implications of that level of infiltration? OK, you've got Fear, alias Cyril, alias Ralph who is chief of operations; you've got Rabbit; there are question marks over TZ; there is Jessica, who I gather is also an agent - this is established, isn't it?
What are the implications of that? Does the ANC qua ANC control any MK units in Natal if that has been the degree of penetration that its military machineries for Natal have?
Well, because certain individuals were aware of that there were certain structures set up. I think that, in the early 1980s there were very healthy structures inside the country that had been built from within. A lot of that went on ice, as I understand it. There was a project known as Butterfly which had been fairly successful and remained largely intact, as I understand it...
It's not my understanding.
Not operationally intact. But there were very few casualties. A lot of those people, as I understand, have re-emerged in Vula, having survived the whole Swaziland crisis. But, ja, Natal operations did, to a large extent, come to a halt. By 1987 and 1988, there were very few operations. Some operations were then being run through Lesotho, through East Griqualand. And also, even at that stage, you had certain individuals and units being deployed directly from headquarters. But as a machinery, ja, I think that - I think from about 1987 onwards, there was virtually nothing going on in Natal. There was one unit in northern Natal in 1988, I think, that was fairly effective. I'm not sure who was controlling them directly.
But from about 1982 through to about 1987, the enemy had a very high degree of penetration of Natal machinery?
Ja. I think certain things were allowed still to go on in order to trace, tracings through. I think also that in the early - in the early 1982, 1983, 1984, I don't think the enemy was confident about their control. I mean particularly, in retrospect, we can say that at that stage there was senior leadership in the area and they managed to survive.
Ronnie and Ibbie?
Ja. That, at that stage, the Ingwavuma operation was launched. OK, that met its fate, but not through infiltration. And that, in my book, remains a very successful operation to a limited extent, in the attempt to kind of form a rural guerilla base. So I would suspect it was only come 1987, 1988 that the enemy was confident in sort of operating carte blanche through that machinery. I think that they were fairly nervous in the early stages. And they were sort of playing for time, trying to build deeper and deeper structures. I think they realised that they were potentially on to a very good thing, which they didn't want to blow.
So they played it very calmly until about 1987 when they reckoned they could call the whole thing in?
Ja. That would be my interpretation of it. As I understand it, a number of the enemy's handlers are now in our hands. That has not been publicised. A number of white security branch officers have been kidnapped.
Who were handling these people?
What, presumably from a Swaziland base?
Goodness gracious me.
I've heard that. Whether or not it's true--. I mean I know that there was one individual - was it a women? - a deal was done with one of the captured agents, who was released on the basis of, sent back to Swaziland and led our security people to the white handler who was then kidnapped.
I mean, just as a footnote to all that, I think that, what I found interesting was that our security's investigation of the whole Natal thing was being handled - OK, for a start it came soon after Nhlanhla's appointment as head of security - the particular team handling those investigations, I think, had an integrity of a level higher than what our security is generally known to have. And it is, they were getting results. And it is interesting that Zakite, who was heading one of those interrogation teams, was killed in Lusaka.
With a parcel bomb, I mean a bomb under his car?
Ja. At the Andrews Motel.
Mmm [Yes]. So the enemy took that particular security investigation very seriously. It is to our security's eternal shame that, when Ralph died, no post mortem was conducted. So one will never know the truth of the matter. But the one theory that I would think is quite possible is that he was poisoned by the security branch through one means or another, because he was at a stage where he was starting to cooperate with his interrogators.
He wasn't panel beaten?
I don't know about that. But I suspect not. That, as far as I understood from the team handling him, they were adopting new approaches.
What do you know about Rabbit?
I've been in many discussions, but now I can't remember. Because I have never personally had dealings with him it's something that hasn't stuck in my memory.
And September's abduction and turning, can you just give me the background to it and the implications it had for Medumo?
I'm just hoping that it was Medumo that he was part of. He was the MI person in it. He wasn't a very effective MI officer anyway, but I think at that stage the enemy assumed: Well, there's now this MI here who is far more important than at that stage they needed to be regarded as. And so I would think for that reason they abducted him although with the psychological profile on him they most probably thought he was a good person to get information from who was on the command structure. I think that, from him, they would have got a fair understanding not only of the structure that he was in but the political structures in Swaziland. My one problem is that I don't know at what stage in the umbrella body, the first RPMC, was established in Swaziland.
Late 1985 is my understanding.
So he - I can't even remember when he was abducted now.
I think it was 1987, then. Ja, he would have known quite a bit about structures in general. I don't - I mean I think he's been a bit over-rated. I mean I think that the big problem with September was that he was used fairly effectively on a public level by the enemy, and he's been prepared to say things which he has been told. So I think a lot of the things he's said weren't his direct experience; there are things that the security branch have been able to put in his mouth to sound believable. The stuff is true, but they knew that he didn't know himself. Otherwise, September did become a kind of a thorn in the flesh of MK to the extent that the question was always asked: Why can't we take him out? I mean there were various plans to do so, some urgent, some less so. At times knowing where he was staying, the routes he was taking to court cases, cars he was driving, etc, etc. I think it was more a matter of pride than a matter of priority. But he became a bit of a--.
Now the chap in Swaziland who had been running those special branch people in Pretoria, who does get wiped out by MK - I am trying to remember his name. You don't know? How long had September been in Swaziland?
I would think 1984, definitely not earlier. Because he would have trained the end of 1983.
And September's real name is Sedibe?
Mmm [Yes], Glory Sedibe.
Now, his abduction and defection: You are suggesting that he defected under pressure? In other words, that, having been abducted he was pressurised and...
Ja. He was turned, ja. I don't think there is any evidence to show that - I mean I have heard much discussion about his character and so on, which show weaknesses, but not that he was an agent prior to that.
Now, you have called some people "fully trained agents", for example Cyril. What do you mean by a "fully trained agent"? What is the profile that has emerged of the "fully trained" South African agent infiltrating into the ANC?
I would say someone who has been on one of the kind of fairly extensive courses the security branch would run on their various farms around the Transvaal for anything more than the few weeks that these kind of hundreds of low-level canon fodder that they have thrown at us over the years to keep security busy. So, on the one hand you've got these individuals who get compromised through a demonstration or something, low level people: they give them a week's training, send them off, on the basis that they are going to foul up the works. I mean these are people who have had anything from a few to many months training in specialised bases. And they are seen as long-term assets for the enemy. So that they are prepared to play waiting games. Exactly what deals are made with them I am not sure. Our security people must have fairly extensive information about exactly what profiles they've had, what level of training. But I would see there is a clear distinction between the two elements.
You mean some highly trained and those just sent out to clutter the works?
What's the profile of a highly trained person, like Cyril. what kind of training is he given?
I would think it's similar to the kind of training we give people. But I would think the most important training they receive is learning - whether it's technical learning or, I suppose, more a kind of psychological perspective of seeing things in long-term perspectives. So that in the case of Ray, for example, I mean he existed in Angola for a decade and was caught within a month or so of going to the forward areas. So he managed to maintain his cover during that time, I would assume having little or no contact. But he maintained it and, as soon as he got to a forward area, made contact and was blown. So that shows - whether that's just a particular case of things, whether by accident or not proper training, things breaking down. It's not my specialisation. I wouldn't know too much about exactly what kind of preparation was given to most people.
And my understanding is that if we go back to the Angolan mutiny in 1983, my understanding is that MK starts fighting Unita in 1983. Until then it has not been involved in any combat with Unita?
Ja, that would be my understanding, too.
How many people, to your knowledge, died between about 1983 and now or between 1983 and 1986 in combat with Unita?
In that first period, I don't think it was very many. I am hazarding a guess. I think it was less than 20. In this latter period, I heard the figures, and I think it was just under 50.
What is the latter period?
This was in 1988, 1989. In 1983, we were responsible for a section just in the east. In 1988, 1989, there were battles in the east, plus an area of responsibility in the north. For some reason, 43 is a number that sticks in my head for this latter period.
But, in the earlier period, sort of 1983 through to 1986, you are looking at about 20?
I mean I have no direct experience, but I seem to remember that there wasn't--.
Now, what is your understanding of that 1983 Angolan mutiny? Where does one look for the origins of that?
In my opinion, essentially in the frustrations of cadres sitting too long and wanting to go home and not being able to go home. That's it at its root, linked then to welfare problems of sitting in camps, and then to certain agents provocateurs stirring things up. I think of those ringleaders some were agents and some were not. But that it came about because cadres were frustrated. I mean there had been - you can't call it a mutiny, but round about 1978 a handful of cadres were locked up for a case of disobedience. And they got sort of very heavy. There were about a dozen of them. I know one of the individuals very well. And that was kind of straight frustration of: You know, we had been told we were coming out for six months for training and we were going to go home; and here we are a year later, still sitting.
Now Nat is reorganised completely in - my understanding is - early to mid-1986. Does that accord with your understanding, or does it come in 1987?
In 1986. To what extent it was reorganised or to what extent certain individuals are removed...
Certain individuals are removed.
Ja, that was 1986.
Not in any detail, other than that certain key individuals were taken out for having abused their power, seriously abused their power, so that Nat was running away with itself and they were able to do anything they wanted. I am trying to think of all the names of those people. They escape me a lot of them. They were all old cadres who had things on various members of the leadership and were able to use those in various capacities to get what they wanted. I don't think there was a drastic reorganisation of Nat though. Nat just continued in its old way with a few new faces. And, in fact, subsequently, similar problems have come time and time again: you put in new faces; they abuse their power; you change them around.
And can we name some of those individuals?
It was Peter Boroko, Ulysses. There were two others. What were their names. I mean Mazwai Piliso, at that stage, in 1986, was implicated and then kind of recovered his--. I mean someone who was hated by the cadres in Angola is Mike Temba...
Ja. Known as Sandlana, one hand. He was back in Nat a few years later. But he had a vicious reputation in Angola.
In the days of the mutiny?
Ja, and before. Who were the others?
Does Nhlanhla take over in 1986?
No, isn't that a bit later.
I though it was a bit later, and Mazwai Piliso moves to manpower, or something.
I have a feeling that Mazwai's move wasn't a straight one - that for a while he was nothing, if I remember correctly.
What, between 1986 and 1987?
While there was some sort of investigation?
I'm just trying to thing, because Nhlanhla was still secretary of the PMC. Ja, in 1987, Nhlanhla was still PMC. And was it in 1987 then, that Reg September takes over then as secretary of the PMC.
Isn't it Joe Jele who takes over?
Oh, I see. So Reg September takes over?
If I remember correctly.
Sounds like a disaster to me.
I just want to go on for a short time longer, then we must stop. Now when in 1986 does this reorganisation of Nat occur? Can you remember what point in the year? When I say reorganisation, I mean this change in personnel.
No, I don't know. All I know is that, when I arrive in Lusaka in the beginning of 1987, it's kind of still news. I mean it's kind of reverberating around. In fact, it's only in 1987, the beginning of 1987 at some stage, I seem to remember there was a mass public meeting where the changes were announced, or there was some explanation given.
What was the nature of the explanation given?
There had been excesses and there was a need for accountability. It was something very general.
Boroko? Do you know how to spell it?
It's not B-A-R; its B-O-R?
As far as I know, ja.
Now, is he - there's another chap who uses the name Reddy. Is it John Reddy. Is he the same as Peter Boroko?
Is John Reddy different from Reddy Mazimba?
Well, I didn't know John Reddy.
What Reddy did you know?
I just knew Reddy, and I assumed Reddy and Reddy Mazimba were the same.
Well that's what I [assumed], but there is someone who has used the name John Reddy at different times. Now Reddy is also Nat?
Now, Nat. Nobody can tell me whether it's National Intelligence and Security or National Security and Intelligence. What's its official name?
Now you are asking. I have officially never seen it referred to. No, I would be guessing. Nat is Nat.
Well, would you guess.
i would think National Security and Intelligence.
Not like Zapu - National Security and Order?
I didn't even know that one.
Could I just go through some statistics with you?
These are taken from police figures. I want to show you some graphs which I have done, which compare one thing to another. OK, now this is a graph of the years of the years 1973 to 1988. Now there are two things I am mapping out here. The one is attacks by MK, which are these black lines; and the other is what I call neutralisations. Neutralisations mean guerillas captured or killed by security forces. Now, you will see that they run almost together; almost, for every ANC attack there is, there is one guerilla captured by the regime. With one or two periods of discrepancy. In 1984 people there are far more people captured than there are actions. And in 1985, there are far more actions than there are people captured. But, by and large the graph is consistent. Does that seem at all unlikely to you? These are police figures?
Well, all I can say for a start is that in MHQ there was no concept of own casualties. I mean there was just no figure put on it. There was no understanding of what those casualties were.
You mean MHQ never knew who had been picked up or...?
Ja, and there was no overview, other than those figures I gave you for 1989. To my knowledge it was kind of all ad hoc reports coming in here or there and never put together. And the only time any figures would be put together was for kind of outside consumption in which kind of casualties weren't...
So there was no statistical monitoring on a regular or sustained basis by MK over its success or failure rate, or the patterns of either?
As far as I know, absolutely not.
Right, well that in itself...?
In MK's annual report to the NEC, there would be sort of summaries made, so that operations department, chief of staff's department would have to put together certain estimates in confidential documents which I haven't seen. But those would not have been estimates based on any ongoing, regular monitoring. They were kind of patched together at a given time.
Do you think had there been an ongoing, comprehensive statistical monitoring you would have known about it?
Well, I would assume that I would have been expected to do it.
Given your particular role and function in MI?
OK, I would like to show you another thing that I put together. The years are 1983 to 1987, and these are handgrenades thrown as against handgrenades captured. The black is the handgrenades thrown and the shaded space is the grenades captured. Now, as you can see, there are a great deal more handgrenades captured than are every thrown. The proportion at some times is one to five; sometimes even one to six, one to seven, and sometimes none are thrown but some are captured. I mean this would indicate a quite extraordinary loss of ordinance.
I mean just looking at that I would suspect that a lot more grenades were thrown than the police would give credence for, or our figures would. I mean generally, I have picked up through debriefings and so on that there are a number of incidents taking place regularly which have never warranted recording one way or another.
Well now these are police statistics; these are not newspaper [reports].
I find I would suspect that in the last, from 1983, 1984 onwards, there would have been more than a hundred incidents each year in terms of handgrenades - I mean without direct evidence of that. I mean that would be my general understanding of the way things were going. As to those captured, I think that's quite possible - given that it's the most mobile and expendable of ordinance. I mean my own personal view regarding ordinance is that it is one department that has, within MHQ, not a bad reputation as a department delivering the goods. I mean I think it is a department that both under Cassius Make and subsequently has continued quietly to do its work in a fairly professional basis. As to once that stuff's down, what's happened to it is another question.
So you would find the capture there credible, but between this 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 period, or through to 1987, you would expect these police figures to reflect a higher proportion of grenades thrown?
I would have thought so, ja. The exact number of captured, the scale of it, I don't know; but the fact that a lot were captured, sure.
Now look at limpet mines. Sorry I've got landmines; this should read limpet mines. We are coming to landmines. The proportion is slightly better in the early days but then one again gets this huge capture rate in 1985, 1986, and 1987. And also in 1982, the capture rate is fairly high. Would you...?
Ja, I find that possible. Limpets became a kind of - to a ridiculous extent - all cadres being deployed in those days increasingly thought that limpets were the ways to solve all the problems. And so a lot of cadres thought without a limpet you couldn't do anything. So a lot were going in and a lot were being misused.
Now, this is an even more interesting graph. This compares fire-arms used, OK, the actual bang, bang, bang - as against fire-arms captured. And what we see here, broadly speaking, is a proportion, and average that every time one fire-arm is used about five are captured, according to the police. I know it's very difficult, I know, I am quite prepared to leave these [graphs] with you...
I don't think that it would make any difference. I think generally the police have given more accurate figures historically than we have given them credence for. But, in the area of captured material, there is a history of repeating. There is the case of, in one of the displays in Pretoria of captured weapons, there was a tag on one light machine gun and it said SB Rusape, so they hadn't even taken the Rhodesian security branch labels off before displaying them. So, I just don't know to what extent such comparisons are useful because one just doesn't know--.
My information of their monitoring is that up until 1983, up until the end of 1982, Stadler, who I got these things from, he was doing the, he himself was doing the statistics. From 1983 onwards, they form a special bureau which is tasked solely with classifying, bringing together this kind of information. And the basis on which they do it is that every time there is an explosion, a shot fired which could have a revolutionary character, they have to be notified. And so they collect, they get their--. Now obviously can be problems at the edges, but the appearance I have got is that it's actually fairly systematic.
And obviously a police force can be expected perhaps in some cases to inflate its successes, so what I am asking you is whether it's possible at all [to challenge these statistics]?
Ja, I mean, absolutely, I couldn't comment. It's possible. Firearms - you are talking about Makarovs as well as AKs and this and that.
So you wouldn't on the face of it, challenge this?
I would think maybe they're, it's a little bit high. But essentially, no.
Now this is a very interesting graph having seen the differentials in the other ones - which lends some credibility to the police figures. This is landmines. Again landmines detonated against landmines captured. And I will explain to you why I think the graph is so interesting. But in 1983, you have about two or three; in 1984 about three or four captured; and then you have the beginning of the farmers' campaign in 1985, with some captures; and then you have this big leap in 1986, with more captures; and in 1987, it starts to tail off a bit. Now, what you will notice here is that the proportion of landmines detonated to captured - the ratio of difference is not such a large one. How would you respond to it? I am going to pick up the lesson that I draw from it in a moment. But would you find that at all credible?
Ja, because you are dealing with smaller numbers and it's a more confined and specific type of weapon and used in a specific situation, I mean that, I don't have a problem with those figures.
I'll tell you why I find it interesting. Most landmines were placed just across the border. The capture rate is much lower. Ergo, where do things fall down? The further ordinance goes into the country - ie limpets, grenades, firearms - the more vulnerable they are to capture. This is mainly cross-border stuff. and the ANC's success rate is much higher. And the police have apparently conceded the fact. There are other complications to the figures, but I find that quite interesting.
Now this is a pie-chart of insurgent targets between 1973 and 1987. It's quite interesting. Police and Army; System is, as far as the police are concerned, anything to do with the government from magistrate's courts, that kind of stuff, so-called collaborators - they're all system; and then economic would include Sasol and Escom; They largely accept the ANC's classifications. Anyway, I just show that to you. I don't have any particular question to it. I'm surprised at the low number of army targets.
I think that kind of fits with what we found.
OK, now this is quite interesting as well: Over the 1976 to 1987 period, it's month by month attacks, year-in-and-year-our, which has the highest proportion of attacks. Well, not surprisingly, it tends to be June. What I also find interesting is the September, October increase. Now I was wondering if you had any explanation. I have one potential explanation for this. But, do you have any idea why September, October should represent some increase?
No. I don't know if there is anything to be read into it. I would say it's one of those things.
What I was going to suggest was that the rain would be starting. Would there be any increase in infiltration across from Swaziland or Botswana or anything because the rain is starting.
That's never affected things to my [knowledge].
I'm surprised that December is so low. OK, unrest casualties. This is over the period of the uprisings. This is civilians and security forces killed and/or injured. The ratio, as you can see, is fairly consistent. You are running at about 6:1 - six civilians killed or injured in relation to any one security force person who is killed or injured. There is not substantial change, except that by 1986, the police are clearly doing better than 1985. I wonder how that would compare with other insurgent campaigns. I don't know either. You were saying...?
In terms of the definition of civilians in this case?
It is difficult to understand who is responsible for this, I agree.
[End of Interview]