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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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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 Extended Meeting 12 & 14 September: Main points of Discussion

MAIN POINTS OF DISCUSSION AT THE EXTENDED NEC MEETING OF 12 & 14 SEPTEMBER 1990

The meeting agreed that the question of violence is integrally linked to the negotiating process. There was severe criticism of the government and its entire attitude to the violence. The situation is so serious that we raised with the government the need for a five-a-side meeting as a matter of urgency. This was necessary irrespective of the imminent meeting between Madiba, Coetsee and De Klerk, which had the agenda of release of prisoners.

Thabo Mbeki gave an outline of the state of negotiations, the main points that need further consideration are attached.

A report was given on the violence on the East Rand. People are demanding arms to defend themselves. The situation in some areas is so serious it requires our attention at the highest level, although it was agreed that the leadership as a whole should shoulder the responsibility of visits to conflict regions, not just Comrade Mandela. It is the task of the committee on violence to organize such visits.

It was agreed that De Klerk should visit the conflict areas, but that such a visit must be carefully prepared for so that he sees the realities. We also need to prepare our people on the ground for such a visit, so that it is not opposed.

Reports on the violence indicated the deep involvement of the police with Inkatha. Residents reported that in Phola Park incendiary bombs were used to burn down the squatter camp. Police wearing balaclavas had accompanied those wearing red bands. Threats were made against those sheltering refugees.

A delegation from the region had met the Political Committee, where it was reported that people accused the ANC of doing nothing to protect them. There was a serious crisis of confidence developing, and people were publicly tearing up their membership cards. The enemy was having some success in discrediting the ANC and the whole negotiating process. There was the fear that unless we took the initiative, police would begin arming both sides leading to an escalation in the conflict. Demand was for direction to be given by the NEC. General feeling appears to be that the movement does not have a strategy to deal with the violence.

Given the extent and seriousness of the violence, it was agreed that the Deputy President's tour of the Western Cape be postponed.

A report was given that the committee on violence was not functioning properly. It was agreed that it be strengthened with personnel who have the appropriate skills, and it must begin to function in a structured way. It was agreed that the whole question of strategizing around violence should be the brief of the committee, which should prepare a report for the next NEC meeting.

The question of monitoring mechanisms was also raised and agreed this should be addressed urgently. Branches and structures should be advised of their role in such mechanisms.

The question of defence of the people was extensively discussed. It was said that the people would defend themselves, but in a way that is undisciplined, revenge-seeking and not as effective as it could be unless we deploy tgrained people to assist, and establish a framework within which such self-defence takes place. This must be not be done secretly. There was an appeal for a centrally organized body on defence units, which would also serve as an information-gathering body. It was recommended that we should say publicly tht we are instructing our branches and our MK units to begin the process of organizing defence committees in the affected areas. We cannot leave it to spontaneous responses.

There was full agreement on the characterization of the violence as orchestrated, systematic destabilization along the lines perpetrated against Mozambique by the MNR. It was also recognized that Inkatha was becoming irrelevant in the situation, as it did not have the capacity to wage this type of war. Agreement that the violence emanates from the government.

There was discussion on a two-pronged policy being pursued by the regime: peace on the one hand and efforts to destroy the National Liberation Movement on the other. To some extent they have achieved success, given the extgent to which all attention is focused on the question of violence and self-defence. The atmosphere of terror is creating a crisis of confidence in the ANC and its ability to defend the people.

Cosatu conference felt that constitutional change was taking place too fast. The constituency on the ground was not involved, and the masses are being left behind. This results in frustration and a lack of decisive leadership, as well as failure to organize mass campaigns and mass mobilization. People must be part of the process, including the mistakes. It was agreed we need to focus on pressure points in taking action against the regime. They also felt it was time to consider suspension of the talks.

It was reported the Askaris were on a major offensive to seek out MK cadres. The Askaris are also involved in operations in Natal and on the Reef. A special meeting with the regime to discuss this issue was requested.

It was felt that we need to convey to the regime that they cannot get away with everything without any sanction from us. It does not warrant abandonment of the peace process, but it does warrant us finding ways to make a statement of protest and dissatisfaction, letting them know that we will not continue the peace process under any conditions.

It was decided that there must be systematic briefing of our people on decisions taken, and that the people must be drawn into the process. We should use mobilization for the forthcoming national conference to do this. A committee should be carefully selected which will be mandated to draw up speakers notes so that every aspect is uniformly covered in report-backs to all regions.

There was extensive discussion on the question of indemnity and what we understand by it. It was pointed out that it was not only what was agreed by indemnity that is important, but what the regime is trying to do in manipulating the indemnity question. Mac, Ronnie and Chris were not acting as individuals but on instructions of the movement and in the interests of the movement.

The Working Group on Suspension of Armed Struggle strongly raised the question of the exclusion of Chris, and it was reported that the matter was receiving urgent attention with the likelihood that his indemnity will be granted in the near future.

A recommendation was made for us to seriously consider the formation of a broad united front against the violence. This should bring together all organizations in the oppressed community, including Azapo, Inkatha, PAC, the councilors and Bantustan leaders, as well as churches and MDM formations. It was recognized that the attitude of organizations such as the PAC and Azapo does not help this process, because when we attempt to draw up a programme we will encounter major obstacles and unacceptable demands from them. We should try to create such a front, but recognize the possibility of failure.

Discussion was held on the proposed meeting with Buthelezi. This should be looked at in a broad perspective, including a recognition that Buthelezi will not simply be satisfied with a meeting with Mandela. He is working with the government and certain international forces. He will come to such a meeting with his own agenda. Amongst the items he is likely to demand is an end to sanctions and that we drop the question of nationalization before there can be settlement. We need to strategise on how to extend the invitation to him. We must also recognize that a meeting that ends in failure will be disastrous and violence will become even worse.

It was recognized that it is time to convey to the government that we are fully conscious that they are conniving with Buthelezi and other forces. We have made an error in our own approach, giving the impression we will not allow anything to stop the negotiating process. Extensive discussion was held on the recommendation by the Deputy President that we suspend the talks. It was agreed that an extraordinary extended NEC meeting be called immediately to consider the suspension of talks with the regime. The time has come for us to tell De Klerk that he settles the issue of the violence within seven days or talks are suspended. We must remove the impression that we are so committed to the peace process that nothing will stop it.

There was some opposition to this position, saying we should not use the threat of the suspension of talks lightly. The prisoners are not yet released, nor have exiles returned. Ultimately, it was agreed that it is tactically correct for us to say that in view of what is happening in the country, and given the fact that the regime is reluctant to co-operate in bringing violence to an end, we are suspending negotiations. Resumption of the process would be conditional on the regime demonstrating its bona fides regarding ending the violence. The full consequences of such a suspension must be elaborated on and weighed up carefully, with the necessary arrangement and precautions being taken.

We must launch a propaganda offensive to ensure we explain our stance to our members and the international community. The timing of such a suspension is vital, especially given De Klerk's forthcoming trip to the US on 23 September. We must also be able to answer and question : what next?

It was acceptable to delay the decision to the extended NEC meeting, but the point was made that we need to look at ourselves very frankly. The most evident characteristic of our work is that we drag our feet and do not implement decisions. This is unfortunately our style of work. We must pull ourselves together and act with speed. People are dying today. A loss of confidence in the ANC is taking place and must be stemmed. We must face this immediately.

The women were planning a regional consultative conference on the violence for 22nd September, and a meeting with De Klerk on 12 October.

It was agreed that the extended NEC meeting should be held at the first possible date. This was set for Tuesday 18th September. UDF and Cosatu present here should also be asked to attend.

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.