About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Operation Mayibuye

Document found by the police at Rivonia, 11 July 1963


The white state has thrown overboard every pretence of rule by democratic process. Armed to the teeth it has presented the people with only one choice and that is its overthrow by force and violence. It can now truly be said that very little, if any, scope exists for the smashing of white supremacy other than by means of mass revolutionary action, the main content of which is armed resistance leading to victory by military means.

The political events which have occurred in the last few years have convinced the overwhelming majority of the people that no mass struggle which is not backed up by armed resistance and military offensive operations, can hope to make a real impact. This can be seen from the general mood of the people and their readiness to undertake even desperate and suicidal violent campaigns of the Leballo type. It can also be gauged by their reluctance to participate in orthodox political struggles in which they expose themselves to massive retaliation without a prospect of hitting back. We are confident that the masses will respond in overwhelming numbers to a lead which holds out a real possibility of successful armed struggle .

Thus two important ingredients of a revolutionary situation are present: -

In the light of the existence of these ingredients the prosecution of military struggle depends for its success on two further factors: -

The objective military conditions in which the movement finds itself makes the possibility of a general uprising leading to direct military struggle an unlikely one. Rather, as in Cuba, the general uprising must be sparked off by organised and well prepared guerrilla operations during the course of which the masses of the people will be drawn in and armed.

We have no illusions about the difficulties which face us in launching and successfully prosecuting guerrilla operations leading to military victory. Nor do we assume that such a struggle will be over swiftly. We have taken into account and carefully weighed numerous factors and we mention some of them:

Although we must prepare for a protracted war we must not lose sight of the fact that the political isolation of South Africa from the world community of nations and particularly the active hostility towards it from almost the whole of the African Continent and the Socialist world may result in such massive assistance in various forms, that the state structure will collapse far sooner than we can at the moment envisage. Direct military intervention in South West Africa, an effective economic and military boycott, even armed international action at some more advanced stage of the struggle are real possibilities which will play an important role. In no other territory where guerrilla operations have been undertaken has the international situation been such a vital factor operating against the enemy. We are not unaware that there are powerful external monopoly interests who will attempt to bolster up the white state. With effective work they can be isolated and neutralised. The events of the last few years have shown that the issue of racial discrimination cuts across world ideological conflict albeit that the West proceeds from opportunistic premises.

The following plan envisages a process which will place in the field, at a date fixed now, simultaneously in pre-selected areas armed and trained guerrilla bands who will find ready to join the local guerrilla bands with arms and equipment at their disposal. It will further coincide with a massive propaganda campaign both inside and outside South Africa and a general call for unprecedented mass struggle throughout the land, both violent and non-violent. In the initial period when for a short while the military adv. [sic] will be ours the plan envisages a massive onslaught on pre-selected targets which will create maximum havoc and confusion in the enemy camp and which will inject into the masses of the people and other friendly forces a feeling of confidence that here at least is an army of liberation equipped and capable of leading them to victory. In this period the cornerstone of guerrilla operations is "shamelessly attack the weak and shamelessly flee from the strong".

We are convinced that this plan is capable of fulfillment. But only if the whole apparatus of the movement both here and abroad is mobilised for its implementation and if every member now prepares to make unlimited sacrifice for the achievement of our goal. The time for small thinking is over because history leaves us no choice.

PART 11.


PART 111.


a      A complete enforcement of boycott,

b      Enlisting the support of the international trade union movement to refuse handling war materials and other goods intended for the South African Government,

c      Raising a storm at the United Nations which should be urged to intervene militarily in South West Africa.

d      Raising of large scale credits for the prosecution of the struggle

e      Arranging for radio facilities for daily transmission to the world and to the people of South Africa.

f      If possible the Political Authority should arrange for the initial onslaught to bombard the country or certain areas with a flood of leaflets by plane announcing the commencement of our armed struggle as well as our aims, and calling upon the population to rise against the Government.

g      Stepping up transport plans, e.g. a weekly or bi weekly airlift of trainees outside the country in order to maintain a regular, if small flow of trained personnel.

h      In order to facilitate the implementation of the military aspect of the plan it is proposed the National High Command appoint personnel to be quartered at Dar under the auspices of the office there.



In preparation for the commencement of operations when our external team lands, intensive as well as extensive work will have been done. For instance, guerrilla units will have been set up in the main areas mapped out in Part I above as well as in the other areas away from the immediate scene of operation.

Progressively sabotage activity throughout the country will be stepped up before these operations. Political pressure too, in the meanwhile will be stepped up in conjunction with the sabotage activity.

In furtherance of the general ideas set out above the plan for internal organisation is along the following pattern: -

a      Eastern Cape - Transkei 2,000

b      Natal - Zululand 2,000

c      North Western Transvaal 2,000

d      North-Western Cape 1,000

a      By importation of Military supply at two levels:

i      Build up of firearms, ammunition and explosives by maintaining a regular flow over a period of time.

ii      By landing additional [supplies] simultaneously with the arrival of our external force.

b      Acquisition and accumulation internally of firearms, ammunition and explosives at all levels of our organisation.

c      Collection and accumulation of other military such as food, medicines, communication equipment etc.



In order to implement the plans set out above in Parts I to 111 we establish Departments which are to be charged with duties to study and submit detailed reports and plans in respect of each of their Departments with the following terms of reference: -

1. Intelligence Department

This Committee will be required to study and report on the following: -

i      the military and the police as well as their strength

ii      military and police camps, and towns, and the distances between them,

iii      system of all forms of communication in the area,

iv      the location of trading stations and chiefs and headmen's kraals.

v      air fields and air strips in the areas.

In its study the Committee should bear in mind the following main targets: -

i      strategic road, railways and other communications

ii      power stations

iii      police, stations, camps and military forces

iv      irredeemable Government stooges.

2. External Planning Committee which shall be charged with the following tasks: -

3. Political Authority

We make a strong recommendation that the joint sponsoring organisations should immediately set about creating a political machinery for the direction of the revolutionary struggle as set out in Nos. 6, 7 and 8 of Part 11 and to set up a special committee to direct guerrilla political education.

4. Transport Committee.

This Committee is assigned the following duties: -

5. Logistics Department - Technical and Supply Committee

Its Functions are: -



1. Immediate Duties of the National High Command in Relation to the Guerilla Areas:

2. Personal

a      Intelligence Alex Secundus Otto

b      External Planning Committee Johnson, Thabo and Joseph together with a senior ANC rep. as well as co-opted personnel, seconded to us by friendly Govts.

c      Transport Committee Percy secundus Nbata.

d      Logistics Dept. Bri-bri secundus Frank

3. Special Directives to Heads of Departments.

The Heads of Departments are required to submit not later than the 30th May, 1963, plans detailing: -

4. Organisation of Areas. Organisers and Setting up of proper Machinery Rethau and James for this task.

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