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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Briefing Notes: Re Talks about Talks

1. It will be remembered that in terms of paragraph 1 of the Groote Schuur Minute, a working group was established to work out a definition of a political offence and other related matters. On the 6th August a report of the said working group was endorsed and accepted by both the regime and ourselves. This working group was given a further mandate by paragraph 2 of the Pretoria Minute namely : to work out a plan for the release and return of exiles which was worked out and agreed upon by both the regime and ourselves.

We are therefore at a stage where:

Briefly :

(i)     agreement has been reached with the Department of Home Affairs regarding an Extra-ordinary Travel Certificate that the return of exiles will be issued with (25 000 copies of which have already been produced by the Government Printer, and this will cost us nothing).

(ii)     agreement has been reached with the Department of Home Affairs regarding the procedures to be followed to acquire the Extraordinary Travel Certificate. A document, entitled "Guidelines for the Granting of Travel Facilities to Returning Exiles and their Dependants", which is enclosed herewith, details the procedures.

(iii)     agreement has been reached with the Department of Home Affairs on entry points, and the government has undertaken to increase the number of such entry points when and where necessary. See the list enclosed with this report.

-     the process of facilitating the release of political prisoners has been set in motion. In this regard the progressive lawyers and support groups have been mobilized and put into action to address all sorts of situations, e.g.

-     those serving sentences

-     those awaiting trials

-     those in detention

-     and those on death row

-     paragraph 1(a) and (b) of the Groote Schuur Minute has now been gazetted and we have to submit applications for indemnity in the prescribed form enclosed with this report.

-     The Working Group's report on political offences has also been gazetted. In this regard there is a problem of the regime having unilaterally inserted a link between the release of political prisoners and:

-     the degree of violence involved in a political offence; and

-     progress in the Working Group established under paragraph 3 of the Pretoria Minute i.e. the provision dealing with the suspension of armed struggle. Nonetheless we propose to submit applications for release in the prescribed form.

2. The Working Group established under paragraph 3 of the Pretoria Minute failed to submit its report by the 15th September 1990 as was provided for in the Pretoria Minute partly because of the withdrawal of the temporary immunity of Cde Chris Hani and partly because this working group has been charged with what is perhaps the most difficult if not sensitive brief. We are at a stage where this Working Group is still grappling with issues like "what happens to our men and material?".

This Working Group has failed to resolve the question whether or not we may continue with the recruitment of new cadres of MK. In this event, this issue has been referred back to the prospective e principals. It is an issue which was debated for hours on end. The regime's argument is that they don't mind it if people join MK but they have a problem with us actively recruiting. We maintained that MK is legal and therefore is entitled to recruit members to join its ranks. Further we submitted that for the purpose of ensuring that a balanced future S.A. army if formed, MK has to recruit and upgrade its cadres.

3. Paragraph 5 of the Pretoria Minute has not yet been implemented. It is in our view important that this paragraph be implemented in such a way that we are not co-opted and that mass action is in no way stifled.

4. Paragraph 5 of the Pretoria Minute which deals with exploratory constitutional talks has not been developed because the regime is of the view that they will not get involved in these exploratory talks unless and until the Working Group on the suspension of armed action has finalized and filed its report – another linkage again.

5. With regard to political trials, it was agreed that they would be interrupted by applications for indemnity. In practice, this has roved to be so as our lawyers are moving swiftly to take advantage of the new situation. We are witnessing a lot of legal creativity at this level.

We expect the regime to start with administrative releases soon. This process will run concurrently with the one of releases on pardon.

Consulting bodies to deal with cases which may be indispute have been established. Our team is led by Cde Louise Skweyiya and is further made up of Cdes. Dullar Omar, Max Coleman, Adv. Arthur Chaskalson and Cde Curnick Ndlovu.

6. It is so that the regime has:

It is also that:

We therefore cannot begin to talk of the regime having created a climate conducive to negotiations as called upon by our Harare Declaration. The regime need to do more.

7. It is significant to note that the Working Groups are not being serviced by the NEC as should be the case. This makes for inadequate and sometimes bad planning and preparations.

There is therefore a need for the NEC to seriously consider a Negotiating Team to which the Working Groups can report and receive instructions. This team should be made of NEC members and senior cadres who are not already under tremendous pressure of work. This Negotiating Team will go a long way towards strengthening the Working Groups.

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.