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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Karl Edwards: Strategy and Tactics of ANC/CP

MAY 1980




Since Oliver Tambo went into exile in the sixties, the ANC/CP have been building an external infrastructure which constitutes the command structure of the ANC/CP, for external and internal work.

This consolidation externally can be regarded as the first phase of the ANC/CP's re-organisation in an environment which is non-hostile and non-inhibitive of expansion and growth. Under these conditions the ANC/CP have launched a programme which persists until the present day, and which revolves around a number of major activities.

One can regard the first four activities as a necessary prerequisite for fundraising, and one must realize that the ANC/CP programme externally has been geared towards support and control for this purpose.

At the present moment the ANC/CP has managed to build up at least twenty-six centres and offices all over the world, and this has sprung from the persistent efforts of ANC/CP members in the fields of propaganda, infiltration, public support and political lobbying.

The purposes of these operational networks are basically several fold :

This system of organizing shows a scientific approach to the nature of their warfare, and this undoubtedly springs from the training being received from the Soviet Union. In this latest phase of organizing there is the injection of professionalism and training which is unprecedented in the war of attrition against the RSA. The emphasis now is most definitely on operational methods, and success in this field.


Operational information comprises that information collected by the agent and staff officer on the actual nitty-gritty of ANC/CP activities – which is never or hardly ever placed on file and which is virtually never included in evaluated pieces.

Not because it is unimportant, but because both the agent and handler assumes the evaluator can divine the importance of the information simply by its content. This of course, is not enough, the fieldworker must convey the message of how possible he feels it is for the enemy to put his ideas into practice. The type of information in question is that intimate knowledge of the ANC/CP mechanism collected through slow processes of infiltration and handling of agents and constitutes, for example:

The political lobbying has badly damaged the Republic's political and economic position, and has led to a degree of international isolation. The RSA can no longer pretend that it has not been affected by the insidious efforts of the ANC/CP. During Operation Daisy it became quite apparent that the ANC/CP was influencing many levels of European public and private political opinion – through support for the Communist controlled SACTU, the banning of South Africans from nuclear conferences, the application of a visa system for South Africans visiting Scandinavia and France; the acceptance of the ANC in the UN as the representatives of the RSA; and a hundred and one other niggling impositions that are geared towards the erosion of the Republic's image abroad.

The erosion of the RSA's image can be seen as emerging from two main thrusts of the ANC/CP which relate constantly to its consolidation process, namely, the mobilization of its camp followers in conjunction with the deft use and control of media (see example below).

The ANC/CP has started a most successful process in motion which has virtually developed a momentum and dynamism of its own. This is the propaganda process. Under the financial umbrella of such organizations as IDAF, AAM and the IUEF a wide range of propaganda exercises have been successfully carried out, for example, the financing of a secret French film team who entered the RSA on false passports to gather film material for screening in Europe. This type of project, among a large number of others, achieves certain specific propaganda and organizational objectives which increase the power and influence of the ANC/CP. For example, the following occurs in the classical propaganda operation:

Firstly, the propaganda is screened where it will be most likely to get the most support e.g. at colleges and universities.

Secondly, as a result of the screening people are asked to donate money and/or join a support organisation of the ANC/CP. At this point the naïve, neurotic, dedicated or converted come forward. It is this type of operationally accumulated information which, if scientifically collected and analysed, gives real insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the ANC/CP. In addition, when this information is utilized in the correct fashion, it transforms information collecting from a simple scientific process into the art of intelligence work.

It is the accepted role of the NTS that it is an information collecting body with no executive powers. This being the case it is the duty of the NIS to collect operational information on the activities of the ANC/CP. The responsibility of the NIS however, goes one step further, and that is the obligation of ensuring that its knowledge is transferred so that the necessary operational executive or political steps can be taken.

In the light of the ANC/CP methodology in Southern Africa, and the obligations of the NIS, it should be a role of the NIS to practise operational evaluation by formalizing the process within the Department. This will serve the following purposes:

To breach the gap between operational and evaluation personnel by providing operational evaluations of the ANC/CP, e.g. by talent spotting and recruitment techniques; personalities in the ANC/CP and their modus operandi etc. Such evaluations grow from field experience, and this experience should be conveyed to the evaluator so that he or she is better able to determine the efficiency and determination of the enemy.


The ANC/CP is working very hard towards the formulation of a United Front within the RSA, whereby Blacks, Indians and Coloureds from all groups and organisations are being pulled into line for a common alliance against the government of the RSA. This active alliance is aimed towards a unity of action in the labour field (for common strike action), in school boycotts, in mass action (riots) accompanied by sabotage in key economic areas (factories and installations) and an intensification of the bush war. During this process a united front of political demands is planned to take place whereby the government will be asked to hand over "power to the people". The whole strategy and tactics of the ANC/CP is designed for this purpose, which is the reason for its military, political, economic and intelligence infrastructure inside and outside the RSA.


Although the ANC/CP is most definitely behind the recent strikes and school boycotts, this action must be seen as only a preliminary round to a much wider and more extensive ANC/CP strategy

In addition to the above, there is a second advantage, and that is embodied in the closer lines of communication and logistical support between Headquarters and operational staff. The operational staff is on the spot to refer their ideas for action to the leadership, and have their projects approved or disapproved in a short space of time. Confirmation of this fact was obtained from Maharaj at the Daisy meetings in London, where he constantly referred to returning to "headquarters in Lusaka" for approval of certain courses of action.

In the past, many ANC/CP operations were being run from London, during the time of the ANC/CP consolidation process. These projects included the Ahmed Timol, Rabkin and Holliday, Lee and Jenkins cell systems, all of which finally came to grief largely through their long lines of communication and the nature of their communication with headquarters.

The problems associated with a distance headquarters have largely been overcome, giving the ANC/CP more rapid, more variable and more viable footing in Southern Africa. Coupled to this in the process of change in neighbouring states which are falling under Marxist or Socialist domination, and which are therefore sympathetic to ANC/CP aspirations. One must take it for granted that the growth of Soviet Union intelligence services in the forward front areas, especially Botswana, bodes ill for those leaders who are not yet pushing a Marxist line. (To keep the wolf from the door, the RSA should be paying special attention to events within Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland and the Northern Homelands with an eye to keeping the present leaders in power, or preparing other benevolent leaders for power.)

In the light of the above one can expect ANC/CP operational activities to intensify, their support to solidify and show direction within the RSA (as a result of recruitment and better communication and their urban guerilla success rate to improve with the establishment of an internal military and intelligence infrastructure which is already partially established in the form of the IRDD).

Although the SACP leadership is quite clear cut, and although the SACP claims to have numerically strong black support, the SACP membership and infrastructure lower down on the hierarchy is vague.

In order to perceive more clearly the function and power of the SACP within the ANC a number of facts have to be considered, and these are outlined below. They revolve around the re-organisation and consolidation of the SACP internally and externally.

Furthermore, in any future operations against the SACP special attention should be given to the names found in lists in the sitting room at Rivonia and in the houses of John Matthews and Ivan Schermbrucker. These lists ostensibly contain the names of SACP members, and include such well known people as Chaskalson, Bizos and Dennis Kuny.

Below is a brief outline of SACP strategy and tactics. (A more comprehensive document on the SACP has been prepared by Capt. Williamson of the SP for the Rabie Commission. This document will be released to the NIS when the commission makes its final report.)


Immediately during and after the Rivonia trial the SACP instructed certain of its leadership to leave the RSA for two reasons:

This twofold strategy was carried out on the instructions of the central committee of the SACP, which was still operating whilst Bram Fischer and others were in goal. Secret communications are available which prove this change in SACP strategy and show Fischer and others as the source of this directive.

The above strategy has had a profound effect on the strength, organizational advance, propaganda thrust, financial status and general consolidation of the ANC/CP. (As mentioned in the sections above.)

An examination of the leadership of the ANC/CP externally leads one to the conclusion that the ANC/CP is dominated and controlled by the SACP. This leadership comprises a large number of those who left in the sixties in terms of the SACP strategy mentioned above and comprises many Indians and Whites, and a growing number of Blacks. This leadership, who are too numerous to name, have infiltrated and influenced virtually every anti-apartheid body outside the RSA. SACP cadres of the sixties-era control organizations such as the British AAM and IDAF and on a clandestine level the SACP is involved with all manner of schemes, and methods of talent spotting and recruitment.

It is probably also true to say that the SACP has closed ranks with regard to recruitment into the higher decision making echelons, for security reasons. For this reason alone, the lists found at Rivonia and in the houses of John Matthews and Ivan Schermbrucker must take on a new significance, because the SACP knows from Rivonia those people who are faithful to the cause. The lists take on a further significance (within the framework of this report) when one considers that the safest method of SACP recruitment is realized through family ties (e.g. sons and daughters).

The following factors prove that external consolidation has been successful for the SACP.

The support from the CPSU to the SACP has almost certainly given the SACP the necessary strength and leverage to hijack vital ANC structures such as Umkhonto we Sizwe and the IRDD.

A partial analysis of SACP Blacks within the ANC is interesting. Capt. Williamson states that people such as Alfred Nzo, Joe Nhlanhal, Dan Tloome, Tom Nkobi, Alex Leguma, Jele, Ruth Mompati, Thami Sindelo, Eric Mtshali and Taballo Matopanyhane and all CP aligned and comprise the Black leadership – (actual and potential) in the ANC. These people are prominent and aspirant leaders within the ANC.

Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) is the army of ANC/CP, and is under the control of various SACP leaders who occupy key positions of power as political commissars and actual leadership. (The control of the armed struggle is a traditional CP strategy globally.) For example, Joe Slovo runs MK with other SACP members, and Ronnie Kasrils is a political commissar in the Angolan camps. Many of the Black SACP members mentioned above also fill prominent positions in the movement.

This situation gives rise to the same sequence of events as take place in other parts of the ANC/CP organ, namely, that those Blacks in training are selected for their SACP qualities, and for further recruitment and training within other parts of the ANC/CP structure e.g. for IRDD operations; for training as commissars.

In addition, MK receives logistical support from the IRDD for its internal operations (e.g. target selection; finance; siting of arms caches). But it must also be borne in mind that there must be SACP networks already within the RSA that can also supply logistical support, and which are working independently of the ANC structure. These are the networks which have grown out of the internal consolidation of the SACP (discussed below), and which are run entirely through SACP mechanisms.


From the 1964 strategy it is clear that the external consolidation of the SACP was meant to be a stepping stone to re-organisation and control of internal networks. The external groups form the basis for continued re-organisation of the internal SACP structure which, it must be assumed, has reached a fairly advanced stage of re-organisation since Rivonia. (This being due to the shift of the centre of gravity of the ANC/CP to Africa, and therefore the intensification of operations in this theatre.)

In addition it must be pointed out that the SACP is working along the same lines as the ANC in its internal work, in that there are strong indications of zonal divisions of labour (Maharaj reports 22 zones for ANC activity). It is logical for this to be the case, since the SACP will certainly work towards a policy of separate but parallel networks to the ANC, for reasons of military and political control in the event of a successful revolution. (Given that the ANC is strong enough in the first place to achieve such results.)

There are a number of facts and trends which bear out an internal re-organisation and consolidation of the SACP, and these relate directly to the fact that the people from the older Rivonia era are now, through their experience and organizational ability, able to rebuild activities from the new generation of dissidents that have sprung from the 1976 era.

It is clear from the documents pertaining to Rivonia and secret communications between Bram Fischer, Joe Slovo, Charles Katz and others, that a restructuring of the SACP inside the RSA took place immediately after Rivonia. (A key to who these people are is contained in the list found at Rivonia, and in the houses of Matthews and Schermbrucker.)

In personal communication with Molly Anderson (nee Doyle, listed communist no. 652) she stated that Bram Fischer had made a mistake with her by recruiting her into the Congress of Democrats. Fischer said that she would have been more useful as a clandestine operator in the underground networks of the SACP. (To my knowledge no lists of the underground networks exist, unless they comprise the names on the Rivonia list on which, however, Molly Anderson's name occurs. Presuming Anderson's statement is accurate, then further lists of people existed at the time of Rivonia which have not been found and which reflect the underground recruits to the SACP.

The re-organising of the SACP internally revolved around a number of people who to this day are active, and who are presumably still working for the SACP. At the time (1965) they include Ilse and Tim Wilson, Violet and Eli Weinberg (Violet being the right-hand of Bram Fischer), Charles Katz, Gerhard Cohn, The Firsts, Olive Gibson, the Heymans, the Schermbruckers, Harold Strachan, Turok and others.

Although these were the central figures of the time involved with the White element of the SACP, there are a whole host of others in the Black, White and Indian communities who appear on the lists mentioned, e.g. the Cachalias, Joe Gqabi, Essop Jassat, Indres and Shanti Naidoo, John Galetsewe (SACTU), Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, P Radebe, A Msimang, K Makgothi and over 1000 other names who were either SACP members or supporters of the SACP, through the ANC, at that time.

A whole host of people who did not appear on these lists then made their appearances after Rivonia, and demonstrated a new wave of recruitment which was pioneered by those unaffected by Rivonia. These new people included the Rockey Street Naidoos, The Timols, Nanabhai, Maharaj, the Pahads, Holliday and Rabkin, Jenkins and Lee, Schoon, Suttner, and many others who have involved themselves in the military aspect of the SACP activities, and who could only have been recruited into the SACP by older and experienced members.

The above list shows military-type involvement and must therefore raise the question of how these people were recruited (the section on ANC/CP talent spotting and recruitment indicates how the process occurs at UCT).

what Sheila Weinberg is actually doing, as this requires a more sophisticated investigation of her activities. Suffice to say that it appears that she is running a cell comprising only Johannesburg people, namely Esther Levitan, Ester Barsel, Beryl Unterhalter, Helen Joseph and Ruth Eastwood amongst others.

It is presumed that these cells came into being prior to the departure of Violet and Eli Weinberg, and that they are pure SACP structures with their own lines of communication with the external structure. They are insulated from the ANC networks by their own particular nature, based on family ties and common historical involvement. (One must accept that the same process is at work here, as with the Simons family in Cape Town.)

One of the most interesting discoveries to date which comes out clearly from the Sheila Weinberg study (summarized later in this document) and the Maharaj study, is the manner in which Sheila Weinberg has broken her close contact with ALL her Cape Town and Durban comrades with whom she was once so closely acquainted. This goes against her nature, and conflicts with her behaviour in Johannesburg where she keeps contact with a huge variety of contacts.

This breaking of contact can only mean one thing, and that is that the SACP is working on a zonal system, and that SACP cells of a local and sedentary nature exist in Durban and Cape Town in particular (and in the other delineated zones as well) with their own leadership and lines of communication with the external hierarchy. (For example, perhaps Dan Tloome (SACP) who lives in Botswana and who has nothing to do with ANC bodies in this country handles SACP communications from the internal networks and reports to the SACP.)

From experience within Operation Daisy, the IRDD operatives in the neighbouring states comprise one of the many channels which could be used for SACP communications. Other channels may be more sophisticated and probably include the use of Fanny Klenerman's "Vanguard Books" which was used during the time of Rivonia as a contact point and communication centre.


The list found at Rivonia, and those found in the houses of Schermbrucker and John Matthews, were found at different periods. At present (May 1980) an attempt is being made to determine the precise date on which the Matthews and Schermbrucker list were obtained (which may be as recent as 1970).

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.