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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Nyanda: Vula Report: 16 Oct 1989

From Carl [Siphiwe Nyanda] to Janet [Joe Slovo]

Ch1 Vula report.

1.1 Since the departure of comrade Theo, there have been no significant developments infrastructurally. The arrest of Comrade July has been the major mishap. June has not yet received response from the Engineering Department on his application to extend his house. We would not proceed, in any case, until July's case is out of the way.

1.2 F., on whom I am relying to help with our documents and computer, has indicated she cannot cope with the kind of work she has been given. She says she would do better working at the open mass structures then get holed up all day long, often alone, working with computer files. I think, however, that it has more to do with a feeling of a degree of inadequacy on her part, or rather that I perceive her as such.

1.2 (i) I have tried to reassure her that this is not so, that if I have any misgivings about her they are that she is not applying herself enough o understand her work and increase her competence. I do not have the time to be watching over her all the time. Nor does the situation require that I give her specific tasks every day. But this does not mean that she has nothing to do. There is a lot of practice and study that she has to do to improve herself, and a wealth of material for it. But it does not seem she does. The result is that I get a little exasperated when there is work which should be in her realm of knowledge to do but she cannot perform. She has asked to be relieved of her tasks.

1.2 (ii) Initially, I had told her that she should equip herself in such a way that she should be able to pass her knowledge to someone. She understands that before this is done she has to soldier on.

3. None of the places we had has been given up, but the logistics of maintaining all these places is taxing without the personnel. Our ordnance place is the one that gives me particular worry. Ch2 next.

Ch2 Vula.

The Doctor spends very little time at the base and if the discovery of the other two places so far is anything to go by, both had the element that they were not occupied. I have spoken to him about this and he has begun addressing this problem. The yard was also in disrepair, but he got someone to clean it after I had urged him to. But the hardware remains in the locked bedroom concealed only in a heap of suitcases. I have been trying to get a carpenter connection to build a bedroom suite with concealment space but I have no time to follow up on him. We had originally thought we would use the basement cellarfor the hardware, but I have concluded it is not a good place unless it also underwent major and very professional adjustments. It would also be the first target of suspicion for anybody searching the premises. The idea of furniture is to make the bedroom "accessible", while denying the chance of accidental discovery of a find through a cursory search by the cops, whose modus operandi seems to be to stage a break-in when they are suspicious and conduct a search. The likelihood if we have good concealment in furniture is that they may hit a blank, since they are only acting on suspicion anyway, and their search is bound to be superficial. But it would be a different thing if they were to break in now. I have worries about the other bases as well, though not that much. I worry especially now in the light of the fact that I must give up Theo's car. With it at least I had begun stabilizing in the eyes of neighbours etc. Now I must resort to hired cars again, which have to be changed from time to time, and all the attention that this draws with it. It would have been so much better if Jabu were here. At least another face can explain another car. But more of this later. Brenda has been helping cover for one base, but she is now being deployed in one of the townships and is going to stay there. Infrastructurally, therefore, the main problems relate to personnel rather than material things like accommodation and transport. Comrade Theo knows that the internal structures have been unable for the most part to provide us with the…….. (document incomplete).

Ch3 Vula

4.5 Comrade Theo knows that the internal machineries have been unable for the most part to provide us with cover that is necessary for some of our places. But if the possibilities we have managed to create can be utilized for personnel from outside we should by all means do so.

4.6 The best thing that I think should happen with respect to our ordnance place, for instance, is to get a well trained, unassuming, ordinary looking, disciplined and well-motivated female African comrade to act as the Doctor's maid (perhaps live-in) as well as chief of our ordnance store etc. She would survive for a century and guarantee safety of our store. Although I am very serious about the proposition and would have liked to put it as a request, I refrain from doing so because I am just about losing all confidence that you can respond timeously or at all to such requests. I am merely mentioning it so that you decide what suits you.

4.7 My communications person is doing very well although we seem to be confronted by the increasing frustration of the incidence of inoperative card phones. Many a time now have had to resort to sneaking into some "safe" private phone to make our calls to John. This is not without its risks but it so happens that this becomes the only way we can communicate sometimes.

5. Masha, the Nat man, Clive and myself have constituted ourselves into a security committee. We meet regularly to evaluate the security situation and whenever there are security developments worth analyzing. In the current uncertainty of the July case we have met almost daily.

5.1 The Owl has proved a valuable source.

6. Brenda has also been useful to me while awaiting APC deployment as per our decision while Theo was around. She has assisted in the training of:

3, 4 and 5 received thorough training in secret work, the others that plus combat training. This part of the training is still inadequate, however, because we lacked most of the material until lately.

Ch4 Vula

7. Organisationally, the rate of growth of the PC structures has slowed down. This is the logical result of the necessity to devote more time to the development of existing sub-structures, as well as the increased activity at the mass level, in which most of our RPC members are key.

7.1 The targets set in the last report have therefore not been met. As can be deduced from the APC reports, however, there is a better grasp in these structures of the tasks that confront them, and they are beginning to deal with them more purposefully.

7.2 The RPC also convened special sessions to discuss the APC reports and prepare well-considered feedback. This was appreciated by the APCs andis something we'd like to see from the PMC concerning reports from the RPC.

8. The major problem which has come about is the virtual reduction of the PC team to five men. Sipho, the propaganda head, has said he thinks he cannot cope with the pressures of his responsibilities in the RPC as well as the other tasks he has at the open level. The report of the structure will have more detail about this.

8.1 He expressed these feelings just at a point where Masha and I had been asked by the PC to talk to the comrade because it was felt he was not giving serious attention to his work and only gave excuses about his involvement at the mass level and in the township, whereas there were complaints from these sectors as well about his performance.

8.2 The comrade had failed to convene a single working meeting of either the editorial or education sub-committee since. Even the large volume of propaganda produced by the PC was organized by the secretariat without his input. He was absent from virtually all meetings of the PC. He was becoming a liability to the structure. He is willing to work in other capacities, however. We are considering a replacement for him.

Ch5 Vula

8.3 The departure of comrade Sipho from the RPC will not affect the progress of the work that adversely. His erratic presence, rather, was becoming more of an impediment than anything else. He will be fitted in some role that will suit his personal circumstances. Masha and I still have to talk to him, however, to settle the security implications of the whole move.

9. All the departments save the one responsible for CW seem to be regiswtgering marked progress. That is why the Rexel report has come like a bolt from the vlue.

9.1 The head of CW is still part time and therefore cannot devote much time to his work. He is also not resident in the area, and comes only on weekends, which makes it worse.

9.2 The MC is also not working as a full team and is still technically ill-equipped. The need for instructors was raised with you long ago. There is no point in strengthyening and constituting proper MC in the absence of trained personnel to ensure their training and development.

10. I am really giving up trying to assume we are one in thinking about the development of the combat capacity on the ground. From all that is not going on one has to assume that there is a plan one is not aware of and had better stop thinking or communicating his thoughts and just wait for the grand plan of which he may be part to be unfolded to him.

10.1 I would be folding my arms and waiting were it not very very frustrating and really eating up my constitution. Every time there is music from John I hasten to collect in anticipation of news about the personnel due since May. I think it's terrible that I sometimes feel a certain bitterness when I realize it's propaganda leaflet.

10.2 I cannot be expected to be efficient if I do not have assistance, and in the combat sphere I need professional assistance. Jabu became part of this mission in 1987. There is no reason why there should be delays on technical matters around his dispatch as we approach 1990.

Ch6 Vula

11. At Jessy have asked Stan and Kgalima to trace most of the good MK comrades they were with on RI with the view of drawing them into structures as a prelude to other involvement. Most of the MK ex-Islanders are, in any event working within mass organizations. There is more MK leadership potential in the Reef than in Durban because of this greater element of younger MK cadres released from prison.

End Vula.

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.