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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

ANC NEC memorandum to 'Chief' (Govan Mbeki), Jan 11 1988


1. The National Executive Committee acknowledges with thanks the communication from you. The issues raised therein were put before the NEC for discussion, and they will lay the basis for even more thorough discussions on a series of meetings for the foreseeable future. This in itself attests to the timeliness of your input and its rare illuminating nature. The communication is a fresh appraisal of current developments and the way forward - from one whose guidance we have for so long yearned for. It confirms on the other hand the failure of the regime to undermine a stalwart, and puts in bolder relief the magnitude of the victory of our people in securing your release. Natural as it might have been to presume and expect it, all of us profoundly appreciate the manner in which you are applying yourself to crucial question of struggle, and intervening to solve the many-sided problems on the ground. Similarly, we are impressed by the coincidence of your views and ours on the fundamental issues. 2. As an initial response, we outline hereunder some of the major landmarks in the evolvement of the movement policy and the process of its implementation. The outline is more or less general: much less because of the constraints of time and space than the fact that the issues we intend to raise are most certainly known to you; that we agree on the fundamental questions; and that we shall seek to maintain constant dialogue. This report deals with issues pertaining to internal work.


1. Major developments in the past few months have added a new dimension to the struggle on all fronts. Foremost among these is the "new" profile of deliberate open terror on the part of the regime against democratic forces both within South Africa and abroad. In the sphere of mass struggles, the entrance into active struggle of forces from within the Bantustan state machineries, the intensification of revolt and defiance among workers and the community in general, organised revolt by students and teachers, and the new surge of militancy among religious groups have opened up possibilities for anew wave of generalised revolt. The crisis of the regime should also be looked at against the backdrop of the humiliating defeat in Angola- a combination of which factors has shifted the balance decisively in our favour. The challenges before the entire democratic movement have multiplied manifold.

2. What is the main direction of state policy?

2.1. The main thrust of state strategy can only be characterised as open terror and sheer arrogance. While the regime pursues the same broad objectives, the intensity of its actions - within the country and internationally - further raises the level of confrontation. 2.1.1. Having failed to crush the MDM through the SoE, the regime has resorted to what amounts to effective banning. It is clear that the regime aims at achieving the following objectives:

* To immobilise the national leadership of the MDM so as to further dislocate the struggles and to undercut the movement towards coordinated anti-apartheid unity in action.

* To weaken the campaign against the Local Affairs (LA) elections especially in strategic industrial areas: JHB, PE, W Cape and Vaal Triangle. Even in areas where the civics had not been effective due to repression eg. PE and Cradock, the regime has decided to take action to prevent their revival during the boycott campaign. Success of these elections constitute one of the main current objectives of the regime: on it hinges its whole constitutional formula.

*Most of the individuals banned are crucial in areas where there has been conflict or where resistance has been tenacious: in Pietermaritzburg the regime hopes to torpedo the "peace talks" and further entrench Inkatha and its murder squads. In the W Cape and Boland the regime aims at fanning the KTC conflict and weakening the strong grassroots structures.

* The timing - a few days before the white by-election- also suggest an attempt to win the support of constituencies otherwise dominated by the ultra-right. In general, the regime is desperate to regain the confidence of ultra-right supporters for the October LA elections.

2.1.2. Through these actions, combined with attacks on high-profile ANC functionaries, the regime seeks to demoralise the democratic movement, weaken it and promote its own "black leaders" with whom it can strike a "credible deal". In the same vein, we cannot completely rule out the possibility of the regime taking drastic steps, eg, the release of NM and other political prisoners into a situation in which the MDM is "immobilised" in the hope that they themselves would be "immobilised",. It is difficult - if not impossible- to give coherence to the regime's thinking, but we have to work out our response and general plans taking into account the regime's present and future quandary is that it does not have enough resources to run and maintain the huge state machinery and administration to wage internal and external war and for the "upgrading" schemes. The projected privatisation of state-owned enterprises, the new system of taxation (VAT) and the wage freeze on the "public sector" are all meant to generate funds for the state. Though these and other measures, such as the recommended wage freeze in the "private sector" too, the regime also aims at appeasing big business. Black businessmen are to be enticed through some promised funds. Yet, to implement most of these measures and achieve meaningful economic growth, requires "stability" and business confidence – which the regime always strives to attain through repression and "reform", that is, through further government expenditure. Such is the vicious circle.

2.3. The regime's desperate actions should also be looked at against the backdrop of the crisis of its puppet structures. The rickety and creaking Bantustan administrations are a clear demonstration of this. Further, the attempt to set up the National (Statutory) Council have floundered. Combined with the popular contempt for the tri-cameral circus and confusion within this structure, these developments put in bolder relief the utter bankruptcy of the racist ruling clique's policies regarding the black majority - and the African people in particular . Botha's recent constitutional "reforms" about an African or two in the Electoral College and the cabinet emphasise the crisis in which the regime finds itself. Stoffel van der Merwe captures the frustration of the ruling clique succinctly: "The phase of political reform we are now facing is such that it is increasingly important to get co-operation from the other groups involved. This has not been forthcoming, particularly in the case of the National Council (NC FM 18/3/88).

3. Major developments in mass struggles:

3.1. The 3-day general strike:

3.1.1. The general strike is a great victory for the democratic union movement and the people as a whole. Many weaknesses did show themselves: eg. the negligible response in the Coloured and(to an extent) Indian areas and in the OFS. On the whole, it is the longest and most successful national strike, and one under conditions in which the regime is desperately trying to get on top of the situation.

3.1.2. By convening the Conference - in which the rest of the MDM was adequately represented - and openly adopting political resolutions, COSATU and its allies were defying the state. On the other hand, the regime undermined the unity and resolve of the workers. The grassroots organisational work that had to be done in a situation were calling for a general strike which is illegal was gigantic. But the ability to cope with it - even in areas such as Natal- does serve as an indicator of the capability of democratic activists when given clear leadership and direction.

3.1.3 Preceded by March 21st and followed by June 16th, the June 6-8 general strike has further reinforced the confidence of the people. It has deprived the regime of the psychological lever it so desperately needs to present itself as a force regaining the initiative. In fact, on the very issue of the Labour Bill the ruling clique is starting to beat a hasty retreat. The pace has been set for the battles around the Local Affairs elections.

3.1.4. The lunchtime demonstrations confirmed at the COSATU Congress have yet to gain momentum. It is necessary that they are effectively carried out to ensure a concerted challenge to the regime. The inter-industrial form of organised action (at local and other levels) that they will cement has far-reaching implications for the revolutionary struggle. At the same time, the community as a whole should support these actions: in the schools, townships and so on.

3.2. The uprising of patriotic soldiers in Bophuthatswana:

3.2.1. This revolt further underlines the depth of the crisis afflicting the Bantustan system. The popular uprising among the people is finding root within the echelons of the Bantustan administrations. In spite of the weaknesses in their political understanding, most of the forces in Bophuthatswana, Transkei, KwaNdebele, KwaNgwane and other areas are moved by deep patriotic sentiments. They have sought or are seeking out the .sade", a united popular movement on the issue of Sabata's proper burial and successor, etc. In the medium-term, these tactical actions would help create space for organisation and action around more socio-political issues.

3.3.Other major actions have been:

* The deliberate effort on the part of the religious leadership to transcend the boundaries of "martial legality". Their actions after the clampdown - uniting all the major denominations and faiths and the decisions of the Convocation to support the 3-day protest have further laid the basis for anti-apartheid unity in action. There is still a reluctance on the part of some groups to cross the Rubicon, but discussion of the theme of defiance - now referred to the constituents - is an encouraging starting point among forces as diverse and as previously "moderate" as may of the participants at the Convocation have been.

* Many student boycott actions have been undertaken in the recent past on many areas. In the We/eas such as N W Cape, N Tvl and E Cape most severely affected. In addition, the national structure is not effective: it lacks efficiency and dynamism, and does not have sufficient contact with the grassroots. It has operated in a manner that has weakened the confidence of regions. At the same time, the problem of factionalism (especially with regard to the "Cabal") has not as yet been attended to. However, there is a concerted effort to revive regions, and the affiliates (SAYCO,SANSCO, white democratic structures) have survived and are steadily implementing the organisational programmes they have set themselves. Their role was decisive in the mobilisation of the 3-daygeneral strike.

4.1.2. COSATU has made many gains in organisational terms: proper constitution and activation of political education department; unity of garment/textile workers under its umbrella; some progress in the organisation of farm workers, etc. However, it has had to contend with many problems: limited loss of membership after the NUM strike, the CCAWUSA split, ideological problems at Head Office, the non-functioning of virtually all COSATU regions, etc, These drawbacks do fade into insignificance when measured against the popular support the Congress can muster, and the limited progress towards trade union unity.

4.2. It should be emphasised that the underground network and armed struggle necessarily assume an added responsibility under conditions of worsening repression - they have to take up more actively some of the mobilisational tasks hitherto performed by the "legal" movement.

4..2.1. To recapitulate. We can characterise the underground structure as being insufficiently organised and possessing a limited leadership capacity. Their ability to service combat units of MK is limited, and such integration (with specialisation) has yet to be embarked upon in earnest. The forces themselves are available: it behoves us to order them into the appropriate formations.

4.2.2. The programme to send in cadres and material has been intensified but it is limited by the objective and subjective weaknesses we identified earlier on. Thus we still have to build the presence - organised presence- capable of sustaining an intensifying offensive and of effectively responding to major turns of events. In brief, the subjective factor is lagging far behind the preparedness of the people to act.

5. The way forward:

5.1. The clampdown on major sectors of the MDM has created new difficulties in the sphere of mass mobilisation. Yet it is an axiom of revolution that mass mobilisation has to continue and intensify. Further, the reality of our situation is that the question we face is not one about the readiness of the masses to act, their militancy; BUT whether or not we are able - at the MDM and u/g levels – to muster the organisational capacity to co-ordinate and "lead popular actions. We are faced with the urgent task to build and strengthen organisation - both u/g and "legal" - and to root the army among the people.

5.1.1. The organisational response to enemy repression has to be multi-pronged, combining the u/g, semi-legal, and legal/open forms. The forms of all-round actions undertaken at all levels should correspond to the minimum organisational capacities necessary. These actions should themselves be undertaken in such a way that they help build the organisation and should build up to more effective actions. The aim is to wage an uninterrupted and intensifying mass and armed offensive.

5.1.2. Co-ordination and leadership of democratic organisations are an absolute necessity. At all levels - local, regional and national -there should be "political centres/cores" which strategise and direct mass actions. The UDF and COSATU (and any other relevant organisation in the various regions) should constitute such cores.

5.1.3. A number of major UDF affiliates have not been proscribed: NIC, TIC, women's organisations, white affiliates and so on. COSATU affiliates - as distinct from COSATU per se - are not restricted. In a careful and selective manner these organisations will have to take up the cudgels in the field of publicity and ensuring "legal cover" for some actions. Except for the trade union movement ( to a certain measure) all these structures were operating semi-legally: within the minefield of the SoE though their actions on many issues would not automatically constitute an offense, they have been and will always be targeted by the enemy.

5.1.4. There will always be need for "high profile" campaigning. In this regard, religious institutions, cultural and sports bodies and so on -i.e. structures relatively cushioned off from direct state action thus far - will be invaluable. Yet they will have to be co-ordinated and led by collectives that include the "political centres/cores". Democratic activists should themselves operate within these bodies.

5.2. The major mass campaigns were agreed upon with the MDM:

5.2.1. There is a need for a continuous campaign against the clampdown: in the form of church services, demonstrations, vigils, press statements and so on. This should include protest against assassinations, detentions, trials, hangings, suppression of the media and all other forms of repression.

5.2.2. This campaign and others should further lay the basis for the creation of a broad coalition of anti-apartheid forces. The need for this coalition to isolate and weaken the ruling clique has never been more urgent: the slogan: Botha and his clique are the enemy of the whole nation (and of humanity) has never been more relevant.(NB: Tentative agreement has been reached with the MDM on the timing and organisational questions re: the "All-in" Conference: external around September. This is to be finalised in further consultation).

5.2.3. The campaign for the boycott of the LA elections is a crucial issue for the democratic forces. Various forms should be used: door-to-door; u/g and 'semi-legal propaganda; usage of religious, sports , cultural and other forms; formation of "apolitical fronts", etc.

5.2.4. Labour legislation and Living Wage : It should be noted that COSATU is not prohibited from carrying out these campaigns. Therefore, the organisational forms and actions should not be limited to the semi-legal level. The unfolding lunchtime meetings and demonstrations should be intensified and extended to other sections of the MDM. The campaign should also lay the basis for united action towards the resolution of the COSATU/NACTU divide.

5.2.5. Bantustans: A concerted campaign to generate action from below and disintegration above.

5.2.6. Political Prisoners: In the context of NM's 70th birthday, intensify especially around July 18th. Also put in forefront the issue of Harry Gwala.

5.2.7. Religious groups: Need to encourage the new mood of resolute action including the proposed defiance campaign.

CONCLUSION: We have attempted to outline the evolvement of events and the way in which we have planned for, and responded to it. The actual outcome on the ground has fallen short of our projections: we have tri strategies.

2.2. The legitimisation of its structures of rule and winning over the masses on the basis of petty improvements and constitutional juggling forms a crucial part of the regime's strategy. PW Botha's speech at the opening of parliament highlights this quite clearly. While it concentrates on what appears to be "pure economics", these issues are in fact crucial to its political policy. Pretoria's main democratic movement.

3.2.2. The patriotic soldiers' revolt brings into sharper focus the following issues: centrality of politico-organisational work among these forces; importance of planning. decisiveness and national "solidarity" when such actions are undertaken; etc. The stern Cape, barricades sprung up once more. The significance of these actions lies beyond the forms that they have taken: what is impressive is the level of unity and tactful leadership, teachers' involvement in some areas, and community experience shows quite clearly the need to strengthen our underground (u/g)structures for such work. On the other hand, the MDM cannot stay aloof.

3.2.3.The situation in the Transkei has its own peculiarities. Yet whatever the chemistry of the forces in power, the general trend is not anti-people. What is lacking is organised mass action which could take the tactical form of support for "the anti-corruption cru support.

4. What is the organisational capacity of the democratic movement as a whole?

4.1.When the latest restrictions were imposed, the MDM was just emerging from a period of planning and consultation on programmes to be embarked upon. The clampdown introduces a new dimension: to be or not to be! In concrete practise solutions are being found.

4.1.1. The UDF however has been hard hit by the SoE, with ar*ed [sic] to look at the causes. Where we have repeated obvious facts and analysis, this has been done to try and present as complete a picture as possible. We expect and shall very much appreciate a response from you. Many issues need further elaboration, and we would like your guidance on the areas on which you require more detail. We shall on our part identify and send the basic supportive documentation as soon as practicable. There is a need for a continuous campaign against the clampdown: in the form of church services, demonstrations, vigils, press statements and so on. This should include protest against Organisation and mobilisation of the widest spectrum of forces opposed to the regime has been one of the major items in our programmes. The approach in the period under review has been to work for the escalation of the revolt and to develop area lagging behind and those immobilised by the racist jackboot. The process of mobilisation, organisation and education is conducted through movement propaganda underground activists in the MDM, the regular consultations with the MDM to agree precisely on such programmes, and through armed propaganda actions. Most of them are directly related to the issues covered above under the underground and armed struggle. In this section, we outline the major issues outlined in our programmes, and briefly the encounters with delegations from inside the country.

4.1. Over the period under review, the mass mobilisaton campaign addressed the following major issues:

4.1.1. Organs of People's Power: The main aim was to encourage the process and contextualise it to the people. Most important was to ensure that these organs are conceived of and do indeed act as organs of struggle; and operate as people's democratic organs in fact. We also encouraged the revival of those immobilised, and sought to correct the errors committed in the process of exercising (embryonic) people's power, especially by the youth. As we stated earlier, it is the weakness of political consciousness (or rather guidance on our part), the waning of revolt in general, and lack of military clout which saw to the demise of most of the people's committees. Attempts at reviving them have not borne much fruit.

4.1.2. The movement encouraged the utilisation of the rent boycott on a national scale. Consistent as it might have been, the rent boycott also depends on the strength of organisation and revolt. Further, we encourage the employment of various tactics of self- defence, and resoved to give a cutting edge to the people's resistance to evictions. The situation has varied from area to area. The position of the movement is that we should seek to strengthen the boycott everywhere. But where a retreat is found to be inevitable - it should be an organised one, agreed upon in consultation with the people, and one that does not lead to divisions among, or demoralisation of the people. The Soweto experience needs to be looked into much deeper. However, it is a matter for serious consideration NOW whether a retreat should at all be put on the agenda in view of the efforts to build up resistance to the coming Local affairs elections.

4.1.3. The Consumer Boycott should also be seen in the same light -ie in its relation to organisation and the revolt: When it was being employed in various localities, the movement called for national co-ordinated action on the basis of national and local demands(short- and long-term). Regional and local initiative was to be encouraged. In many are as the CB was quite effective and, inter alia, precipitated divisions among sections of the ruling class. However, there were tendencies to mix up the short- and long-term demands, sometimes leading to prolonged boycotts which would exhaust the people: the character of the boycott as a tactic was not completely grasped.

4.1.4. Anti-apartheid Coalition: Over the past 18 months, this has been one of the major initiatives advanced by the movement. The basic aim is to unite all anti-apartheid forces in action, isolate and weaken the regime and create conditions for its removal from power.

* In this way we also seek to widen the base of the democratic movement, on the basis of a common denominator to be agreed upon. This would include: opposition to apartheid and repression in particular; for a united, non-racial and democratic South Africa; for the release of political prisoners and detainees; freedom of association and expression; against aggression in the region and for the withdrawal from Namibia...This platform would be embraced by "other forces" such as NAFCOC, NACTU, most teachers' organisations, BMF, Inyandza National Movement, IDASA , NDM, Black Sash, some leading members of Inkatha, patriotic elements within AZAPO, most religious groups and so on.

*The common platform would form the basis for joint actions eg. meetings and petitions. The MDM would continue with its programme - and so would the other forces - as long as this does not violate the basic platform. Also, forces which do not embrace the whole platform would be persuaded to act in league with the others on those issues upon which there is agreement. Within the Coalition, there would be also be division of labour on the basis of the peculiar position that any of the components occupy.

* The progressive forces within the coalition will have to emerge as the core, on the basis of their own actions and conduct. This also presupposes that the most important groups eg UDF and COSATU would have to strengthen mechanisms of consultation and co-ordination. At the same time the Coalition would have a "Series of concentric circles" - i.e. those who agree on many other issues would have to act together on those issues. The Campaign for National United action (UDF,COSATU,NECC and SACC) is a case in point.

* The "All-in" Conference would be the launching pad for the Coalition. This however does not mean that from these Conferences should emerge tight structures with all anti-apartheid forces on question of struggle including the issues of negotiations and constitutional guidelines for a future SA. We would also be able to assert our role as the vanguard of the National Democratic Revolution. When the idea was first mooted, there was resistance and misconceptions among many democratic activists. Some thought this meant that the UDF was being called upon to dissolve; which is in fact not the case. Others saw the idea as amounting to a compromise of principles; but it was emphasised to them that within a front there will be differences of approach, and none of the components is called upon to give up their principles - rather they are required to unite with others on the basis of the platform agreed upon without having to abandon their own programmes. The initiative is pregnant with many possibilities for isolating and weakening the regime. But it does have some dangers that will have to be guarded against all the time: eg. the attempt by some 'liberal' forces to undercut the MDM taking advantage of the state of repression.

4.1.5. Over the period under review, we have systematised our approach to political work in the Bantustans, though implementation still lags behind. In these areas - as in all our other areas – the mobilisation and organisation of the masses remains central: on the basis of concrete conditions in each area and the grievances the people harbour. At the same time, we have sought to reach out to forces with a modicum of patriotism, within the Bantustan structures. In particular we have:

* further cemented our rapport with the KaNgwane leadership and encouraged unity in action between them and the rest of the MDM. In meetings with them we have put forward the perspective of ensuring that the area develops into one where grassroots people's power becomes a reality. We have dealt with these patriots taking into account also our experience with the KwaZulu leadership, and thus emphasise, among other issues, the fact that the area should be opened for organisation by other forces; eg trade unions, as opposed to Inyandza setting up its own trade union. Through the Inyandza leadership we have also sought to reach out to other Bantustan leaders eg Ntsanwisi and Mopeli, though the response has been disappointing. An important question we are grappling with in relation to this area is how we should utilise in a sensitive and cautious manner the special relationship that has developed for all-round work.

* made contact with the patriotic chiefs in KwaNdebele and jointly worked out strategies for the area as well as the broader question of organisation of chiefs under the umbrella of CONTRALESA.

* started the process to seek out genuinely patriotic elements in the Transkei Bantustan structures.

* encouraged the MDM to feel out the Lebowa leadership which has made overtures for meetings with various forces. Specific demands would be advanced as a condition for any joint work that might be proposed by the other side in these meetings: in particular relating to repression against youth and chiefs in the area.

* after the Bophuthatswana attempted coup we have made contact with some of the patriotic elements and we are working to advance anti-apartheid and movement organisation in the area. Generally, this area of work holds out the promise of major advances as the regime's crisis deepens. However we still have to further systematise and invigorate our work with regard to the Bantustan state machinery, taking advantage of the grounds well of disaffection in most of them.

4.1.6. Within the white community new possibilities have emerged with the deepening of Botha's crisis. In our programmes we have put forward the idea of the formation of a broad white anti-apartheid front bringing together extra-parliamentary and genuine anti-apartheid forces within the white parliament. We have at the same time encouraged the latter to find themselves a place in the extra-parliamentary terrain. The meetings with these forces have been most fruitful. But we have also noted that these are initiated by them - not by us on the bases of the priorities that we should set ourselves. The other drawback has been the fact that the MDM leadership has not followed up on these achievements inside the country.

4.1.7. With regard to the various sectors - workers, youth and students, women, religious groups and so on - we have encouraged maximum grassroots organisation,

planned and co-ordinated actions, unity of all anti-apartheid forces, political education etc. On the latter, we have begun a process to establish links with the Politcal Education Officers so we would make a direct input into their work. Other campaigns we have put forward and encouraged are:

* Against the State of Emergency, detention especially of children, hangings, clampdown on the press, etc - as a permanent feature of resistance.

* Release of political prisoners and their right to speak to the people.

* Around major anniversaries (this year to include the 5th anniversary of the UDF, 150th of the Battle of Encome, the apartheid anniversaries) Most of the campaigns have not been taken up with the intensity we had envisaged. This is due to a host of factors, most of which we indicated above.

4.2. We have held a number of meetings with a wide spectrum of South Africans. The meetings have been most useful for many reasons, but experience has taught us that these consultations cannot and should not be seen as a substitute for actual work on the ground. In the same measure as these meetings are a result of intensified struggle, at the end of the day our status inside the country will depend on what we do to intensify that struggle. Hereunder is very brief characterisation of some of the major encounters:

4.2.1. Big business and "liberal forces"

*We characterised the context in which this meeting took place. Suffice it to add that even at the time of severe crisis these forces rejected any notion about action on their part to assist in the process of fundamental change. A few among them have maintained regular contact, and we are seeking ways of utilising these opportunities as much as possible to the benefit of struggle eg pressure for the release of political prisoners, for opposition to the labour law etc.

* PFP: Their positions differed very slightly from those of big business. However it was clear that among them there were forces who were more amenable to suggestions put forward by the movement. At the meeting and subsequent consultations we have encouraged this trend. The actions taken by some of the (former) leaders of the party to resign from parliament, etc are a product of these encounters.

* IDASA/Dakar: The IDASA leadership has maintained regular contact with the movement. In discussion we have consistently defined – in our conception and certainly that of the democratic forces within the country - the role that this structure should play: as a forum to mobilise and conscientise [sic] the white community and draw as many as possible into active struggle. They have made some attempts in this direction, and the Dakar meeting was one such step. Many forces within or linked to IDASA try to advance reformist solutions, challenge radical forms of struggle, concoct some post-apartheid formulae short of universal franchise in a unitary SA, etc. The Trojan Horse attempts by IDASA into the townships has been challenged by the movement. Many do come to see the folly of their ways while others are tenacious. However, the most important achievement would be to get them not only to reject apartheid as they have done, but to act in keeping with that belief and for its attainment. Many of them left Dakar to spread the "gospel" especially among Afrikaners. There is also preparedness to act jointly with the democratic movement.

* NDM and other Afrikaner groups (youth, churches etc): This fledgling opposition group does have a great potential to move in earnest into the Afrikaner community, especially its elite. The advantage with some of them is that from the cultural and moral shock, they tend to move even more ahead of the erstwhile "liberal" torch-holders. This is even more manifest among young Afrikaners.

4.2.2. The mass democratic movement:

* UDF: Consultations held regularly to strategise on mobilization and organisation, and attend to problem areas. The movement has initiated at least one major consultation at the beginning of each year to review past developments and plan ahead. However, because of objective constraints and subjective problems (factionalism), most of the delegations have not been representative enough. Though decisions are communicated, the draw-back has been that we find ourselves meeting only one strand at a time, and thus unable to tackle the problem of divisions satisfactorily.

* COSATU: A number of meetings have taken place since its formation. Individual unions have been met when the need arises eg NUMSA, NUM, and many political education/training seminars have been held jointly with SACTU. From these consultations, COSATU (in particular some of the individuals who had never been in contact with us) had developed to appreciate and embrace positions of the liberation alliance. Problems such as the Freedom Charter, question of the United Front, relations with the UDF, etc have been trashed out. Also it has been an effort to persuade some of them to see the dialectic balance between organisation and action in the process of struggle. From these meetings general programmes are agreed upon. The process started to co-ordinate with NACTU and perhaps towards lasting unity is a product of such consultations. The meeting with NACTU was also fruitful particularly in the sense that they appreciate the need for united action - as distinct from the previous disruptive behaviour of some of the forces. The process of uniting the two will be a long one. We have emphasised that unity should find expression for a start in co-ordination on the current campaigns, more specifically on the factory floor. MDM Delegation: Met the movement last March. It was a relatively representative delegation of UDF affiliates and COSATU, and discussion covered many issues including particularly the question of the way forward after the February clamp-down, and the issue of the Anti-Apartheid Coalition. These issues are integrated into relevant sections of this report.

* CONTRALESA: The meeting took place last February; and it looked into the place and role of patriotic chiefs: CONTRALESA's mission with emphasis on the need to broaden the base rather than narrow it and keep potential supporters out; programme for each Bantustan; special role chiefs can and should play in weakening Bantustan machineries including the army and the police; work in Independent Churches and among traditional healers, etc. Reports- back indicate that this sector operates with seriousness and commitment.

* KTC: The delegation was made up of the warring parties. Problems discerned as arising from : urban/rural relations; state intervention; clumsy manner in which some MDM (& Congress) leaders handled the issue of organisation; etc. Finally reconciled, and a programme of action was agreed upon, including: need for one civic, forms of constant consultation; consistent democracy; systematic organisation of the unemployed and unity of their organisations, etc. The agreement and truce has held in spite of provocative actions by the enemy.

* Meetings have been held with almost every other democratic sector: NECC, SANSCO, all black teachers' unions, SAYCO, National Co-ordinating Committee for the formation of a national federation, various religious denominations and the inter-faith WCRP, cultural workers, legal and medical structures...In virtually all of them a deliberate effort is made to discuss the question of programmes of action extensively.

4.3. In the meetings with the MDM, briefings to our underground operatives and to a limited degree in our propaganda we have addressed the question of subjective weaknesses plaguing the MDM. On the basis of the character-izations in the sections above, we have proposed certain solution:

4.3.1. Factionalism: The major tendencies have been the Cabal, CRIC, RMC (and issue of an African political organisation) and the ultra-left. Border has its own specific problems. It should be noted from the start that while the groupings themselves are discernible, the extent of fissure is sometimes exaggerated by the tendency)' within the country to label any and all its opponents one thing or the other. This has tended to stifle debate and sometimes left legitimate questions unanswered and brilliant ideas suppressed.

* The main trust of our approach is to emphasise the common denominator among the democratic forces; that within any movement there are bound to be differences of emphasis, etc.; that unity inaction is the answer to many a question; that organisations should operate on the basis of democracy; recources should be democratized and fall under the control of elected collectives; that it is a misrepresentation of the movement to want to assert its authority in order to push ideas - that the movement seeks to influence, persuade and convince or itself be convinces in democratic discussion not as an authority on high. The issue of political education is further emphasised by some of the theoretical and other questions that lead to disputes.

* Cabal: The issue has been raised consistently with the individuals who are said to belong to this grouping. Further, contact was reestablished with the u/g unit at the core of the so called cabal so the problem could be handled also - and more so - from this perspective. When the schisms resurfaced with greater vehemence last year, the movement resolved to meet NIC and TIC to discuss this among other questions: arrangement are under way for the proposed meeting(s). At the meeting with the MDM last March, a special commission was formed to look into the question and the specific practical recommendations which were adopted by the meeting (in addition to the more general ones regarding principles) were: to strengthen the UDF Commission looking into this question, to be composed of UDF/church leaders seen to be, and actually, above reproach on this issue (Beyers, Mkhatshwa, Chikane, Chris Dlamini, and any others from the Commission which was established by UDF Head Office); also to speed up the arrangement for a meeting of the movement with both sides: "Cabal" and "anti-Cabal". We have also warned very strongly against formation of "counter-Cabal" cliques. In Natal, we have proposed that vigorous measures be undertaken by all democratic forces to seek out and develop African leadership capable of playing its leading role. We are made to understand that due to heavy work schedules the proposed UDF Commission has not convened as yet.

* Related to this question is the issue of mobilisation of Coloured, and Indian areas: a matter for concerned because of the relative inactivity in these areas - especially at the backdrop of the anti-tricameral victory a few years ago. The PMC has commissioned a special study to look into this question, with a view to working out cogent strategies: taking into account the social composition of these communities and their history of political activity; the socio-psychological make-up of each segment; place and role of the working class; which are the main constituents and which are the potential ones; etc. In this regard, initial assessment is that – as we earlier indicated - the latter-day Indian Congresses are rooted solely on middle strata and petty-bourgeois support, and they have paid very little attention to the downtrodden masses. Taking into account some of the factors to be researched upon as outlined above, historical tradition, and the fact that the present-day problems are not with the I/Congresses per se but the leadership and its class orientation and experiences. Group Areas and many other reasons, the need for these "ethnic organisations" persists. This is the conclusion that the NEC/PMC came to some time ago, after heated debate on this very question. This does not necessarily apply to the Coloured community in general. The meeting with the NIC/TIC is to look into this question.

* RMC: The approach here has been to define the mandate of the RMC as a broad campaign and not an organisation; and that it should operate on the basis of consultation with the MDM as a whole, recently meetings were held with the leadership of the RMC and agreement was reached in these meetings and within the country to rectify past mistakes and misconceptions. The personality problem will take time to resolve. The proposal for an African political organisation was rejected by the movement and activists within the country.

* In East London/Border we have encouraged the processes aimed at uniting the conflicting trends conscious of the fact that the problems centre around a few personalities. Attempted consultations with these personalities have not taken off the ground; and we have sought to withdraw the more problematic characters - though it is difficult to implement.

4.3.2.UDF organisational questions:

* We have advised against the conversion of the UDF into a political organisation - rather is should continue to operate as a front. Even if it has to tighten structures under conditions of severe repression, this should be done in the context of the constituent structures.

* The UDF (and its affiliates) are legal organisations and should seek all the time to defend this legality as an organisation. It should always seek to expand the legal space while at the same time adapting to conditions of repression. Individuals within the UDF can belong to the "underground proper" and/or operate clandestinely due to the situation obtaining. But they should find the appropriate forms of linking up with the collectives and the masses in general. At the same time it is under these conditions that democratic practices should be defended like the apple of our eye.

4.3.3. UDF/COSATU: The resolution adopted by the UDF NWC in 1987 to create permanent structures of liaison with COSATU at all levels is broadly correct. Neither of the organisations should seek to swallow the other. It would not be appropriate for COSATU to affiliate to the UDF. On the other hand, COSATU was discouraged from identifying one or two affiliates of the UDF as its only possible strategic allies. Certainly where joint actions have to be undertaken between COSATU and one or other affiliate of the UDF eg with youth on the issue of the unemployment, this would be in the spirit of strengthening the front rather than dividing and weakening it.

4.3.4. The conflict in Natal has been a tragic blemish on the struggle. What is clear is that GB has moved irretrievably to the other side - the history of the problem being known. In trying to find lasting solutions to this problem, the movement has adopted the following positions: (NB: This issue was also discussed in a special Commission at the meeting with the MDM):

* The issue should be viewed against the backdrop of the strategy of the state to use sections of the population against the struggle. The Natal problem is an expression of this, though it has its own peculiarities. In response, to the onslaught, and the general principle, the MDM must win over sections from which the death squads are recruited, mainly the unemployed, migrant workers and the rural population.

* There is a need to mobilise the community in these and other areas around issues that agitate them, irrespective of the organisations to which they may belong. The carnage in these areas is to the detriment of all inhabitants, and can indeed also form the basis for mobilisation. Experience has shown that GB has a very narrow social base supportive of the murderous campaign, even within the Inkatha leadership.

* There is need to revive the peace talks - or at least to call for them on the part of the MDM. We should be seen to be occupying the moral high ground on this question and further expose GB. At the MDM meeting individuals including Archbishop Hurley were proposed as a tripartite that would call for the continuation of the talks on behalf of the MDM and even offer to mediate. The UDF is still to implement for the lifting of the banning order on the former mediators.

* The defence committees formed by the people should be upgraded and integrated into MK; and notorious warlords should be dealt with. Only a few units of MK have managed to reach these areas due to the many problems cited above.

* At the meeting with the MDM it was decided that the MDM should issue a call outlining its policy position on this question: and also addressing Inkatha leaders who are against the carnage to stand up and be counted.

5. These are some of the questions which have constantly engaged our minds. Another major preoccupation has been the search for structural forms at HQ which would facilitate the implementation of the programmes(s). 5.1. In the immediate post-NCC period, we set out to restructure as directed by the NCC. The main measures with regard to internal structures were:

5.1.1. To abolish Political HQ as an implementation body of PMC with some executive powers, on the grounds that the PMC itself is apolitical leadership. The Political Committee was set up in its stead to function as the servicing arm of the PMC.

5.1.2. To abolish MHQ as an implementation body with some executive powers. This was immediately reversed on account of the need to supervise the army outside the country.

5.1.3. A PMC Secretariat (10 PMC members) would see to the implementation of PMC decisions and ':day-to-day executive matters.

5.2. After close on to a year it was felt that the arrangement was not working: PMC Secretariat members were mostly out of the region. Thus the Secretariat was unable to implement and ensure follow-up on decisions and to supervise implementation. Further a decision was taken:

5.2.1. To "upgrade" the Political Commission into a Political Committee with senior members heading it. It would then become the fully-fledged political implementation machinery of the PMC. The MHQ would enjoy the same status.

5.2.2. The PMC Secretariat - as previously constituted – was abolished. In its place new members put who would serve mainly in an administrative capacity, and to co-ordinate with the structures from which they come. It was later discovered that this was insufficient in that co-ordination also has to involve senior members of the respective departments. Thus the PMC Working Group was established. It would decide on and execute tasks on matters relating to internal work, in-between PMC meetings.

5.3. Structuring and restructuring at HQ has been necessitated by the search for the most appropriate organisational forms to lead the struggle. It is generally agreed that as they stand now the structures need improvement. Discussions are under way. You will be informed in due course on progress. Your contribution will be highly welcome.

[sic]h presidents, chairpersons and all. Rather the structuring should emerge out of concrete practise. Yet, even at the initial stages, and during the preparatory process there would have to be co-ordinating structures representative of the potential participants. The Conference outside the country would involve the ANC and come before the internal one. In this way we would be able to harmonise- to the best possible extent - our views

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.