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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
Conducted by Howard Barrell,
Johannesburg, January 28 1991
Right, I'd like to start with, were you involved in the Conscientious Objectors Support Group, and what was your involvement in the genesis of ECC [End Conscription Campaign]?
I was involved briefly in the COSG. Basically, my initial involvement with this issue came in 1982 where, at the prompting of the movement [ANC], through people in Zimbabwe it was stressed to me that this was an important issue, an important way of mobilising whites; that we must get involved in it; and, in the sort of terminology of the time, it was an important contradiction to work in and exploit. And so I got involved initially in COSG in Cape Town. And I would say it was early 1982. Maybe the context of the time was: there was the beginning of a debate between different people who had different positions on the whole issue of whether to serve in the army. I am sure you are quite aware of that debate.
Just recap it: Some people saying go in; some people saying stay out; go in and spy; or don't?
It was quite complex. Because it overlapped over all sorts of other divisions which later emerged...
This is Van Heerden and all that sort of stuff?
Ja. Well, my interpretation of it, and I was on one side of it, so I am biased, but what happened was, within Nusas, there was a group which was running Nusas and doing it in a way, I guess which was consistent with the politics of the time. It was a small clique of people and, when there were challenges, those were put down much the same way as, I suppose, existed in the NIC politics of the time, for example. There were, over the years, several challenges to that group, of which Auret van Heerden was the central person in that group. But, because they were coming from a local level, whereas that group around Auret operated at a national level with power and finance and through Saspu National, they were very powerful; they were able to stop that. My own involvement in challenging them came towards the end of 1981, where we started discussing the whole question of going into the army. We had previously, kind of reluctantly, accepted the position that was put forward by that group around Auret which was that the most effective thing one could do was to go into the army in order to stay in the country; and therefore those who, like Peter Moll and it was in that kind of time period, went to prison were seen as sort of Christian martyrs who weren't getting to the central contradiction in our society, etc, etc. I think we kind of accepted that position although a lot of us just personally found it hard to accept the idea of going into the army, and were worried about how that was going to be perceived in the black community where we were working in whatever capacity. And I think then what started happening in 1981, there were pamphlets coming from the movement - Harare and Gaborone - which were saying: Don't go to the army. And then there were people in Johannesburg who were starting to push a different position, who I didn't have contact with at that stage - people like Mike Roussos, for example - people who later emerged as movement members, who would have been movement members in that time.
What were they arguing?
They were arguing that we need to start organising around the issue and that one of the things that one must do is that those who have a political profile and who are involved in organisations can't go into the army - whether people infiltrate, that's a different thing, but then they must be prepared to take the public condemnation even though they are doing with the approval. So that was the kind of position. And then, for example, when I was out of the country, end of 1981 or beginning of 1982, movement people pushed that very strongly to me: that this was the line of, at that stage, the RC: that people shouldn't go to the army if they are in that kind of position, and we must start organising around that.
So, in other words, people are known activists in the white community should be seen not to go into the army?
Well, they don't need to be very public about it, but I think more it was that they should not be seen to go into the army, because of the damage that could cause to non-racialism. And I think the other concern - which I still think was a valid one - is that I was involved in 1979 in Nusas: there were the Milcoms, which were set up, I think, at the beginning of that year, or maybe at the end of 1978...
This is investigations set up in 1978?
Ja. And once Auret van Heerden made his decision to go in, they were shut down. I mean I remember we were told Andy Smale - he was a difficult character, I don't know if you ever knew him - well, we were told he was probably a spy. Well, he turned out not to be; he was a difficult character, but he was very good at organising around this issue and quite energetic about it. And on that basis, they were all shut down.
It was Auret who shut them down?
Ja, they basically closed them down very quickly.
Nusas central office?
Ja. Ja. Well, Auret personally really, and then through him, the people he was close to in the different regions.
Can we stop at this point, the closure of the Milcoms. I just want to clarify a few things. The kind of pamphlets that you received in the early 1980s - you say from Zimbabwe and from Botswana --...
It was 1981, 1981...
Can you - I have got some pamphlets along these lines , but I am having difficulty dating them - can you remember the phrasing or the format of any one of those pamphlets?
Look, it was never done in a way which said, as blandly as, if you are a high profile activist, don't go in. It was done in a more general or rhetorical way. But it was clear what they were getting it.
Can you remember what any of those pamphlets looked like?
I remember them as being A5 pamphlets, you know, the small ones, half an A4, ja. But it was a long time ago. I wouldn't remember what they were saying. You know: Apartheid war machine, and this is what they are doing, and so on and so on.
OK, Auret van Heerden closes down the Milcoms in what 1978, 1979?
At the end of 1979. It was the end of 1979, because I remember we had our last Milcom meeting at the beginning of 1980, and then they were closed.
So they were closed, as I understand you, because Auret has decided that Milcoms are the genesis of an unfortunate line; the correct line that we must go into the army in order to be able to stay inside the country?
Ja. And I suppose it's also that, if you are the Nusas leader and you are going into the army, and Nusas is organising Milcoms which are likely to have the opposite effect or make it difficult, it's not going to look so good for yourself. Maybe that's a bit cynical but, ja, anyway. So what happened them was that in the beginning of 1982, we were given this very clear line that we must organise, and that people are not to go into the army; and to start challenging Nusas on this one. Which we did. And a group of us did at UCT. Some of the people involved were myself, Brett Myrdal, my brother, Chris Giffard, later others like Tony Karon, and later Laurie Nathan. And they started challenging this. And then this was seen as a challenge to Nusas as a whole, as adventurism and so on and so on.
What, your position was seen as adventurism?
Ja, and the fact that it was seen as an attack on Auret. And you remember there had been that whole thing at Rhodes where there were spy rumours about him, and it was seen as playing in it and that sort of thing - as a kind of dangerous thing.
You are getting your line from Zimbabwe, is that correct?
Can you tell me who in Zimbabwe?
Well, I mean, what I'll have to say is: off the record.
OK, it's off the record.
The person who was heading the structure at that time was Garth Strachan.
Garth wasn't in Zimbabwe in 1982.
Was he not there yet?
No. I mean I know Garth very well.
He was later the head of the whole...
He comes in about 1984.
Is it 1984? Well, then I'm a bit out of time. The person I was dealing with at that initial stage, the beginning of 1982, was Pete...
Pete Roussos. Who was head of the political committee in Harare.
Oh, OK, right.
So we are on the record again now.
That's fine. Then look, it was also coming from the Botswana people.
Do you know who?
Fitzgerald [Patrick Fitzgerald]. But now a lot of us didn't have much time for him...
Because he was getting everybody arrested?
Ja, I mean he just operated in a very unfortunate [way]. I mean I had some really bad experiences with him knowing of my involvement and then doing things which were quite dangerous. So we didn't maintain any contact there. Because there were also overlaps and crossed wires, you know. Which even in those days.
OK, so that ends off the record.
Ja, this is all off the record, ja.
OK, so we end off the record now. Now my next question is: Do you know who Auret van Heerden was getting his line from or how he was developing his line? What was the genesis of his line?
I think he formulated his line himself. I think he sold it quite successfully to a number of key people in the movement. I mean one at that stage was Thabo Mbeki. He was connected with the people in London, I think with...
Aziz Pahad was another person he was close to at that stage. And then he was working together very closely in terms of funding with the people in Holland. The key person, I think, there was Gerald Kraak, who was also pushing that line. Gerald, I think, at a later stage, ja, he moved back to London. But, ja, those were three people he was definitely working with.
Now, how was he presenting this? Was he presenting it as: I have endorsement for this position?
Ja, they were saying this is the movement line. We were saying: No, the movement's line is something else. As it turned out we were both correct because it depends which section [you were dealing with]. They were the international people; these were the RC people; and they had different lines on this question. So, both sides felt the other was being mischievous, I think. But there was also a strong line coming from them at the time which was very, very anti-Botswana particularly, but anyone in Nusas going out of the country.
Coming from who?
Coming from Auret van Heerden and the group around him. No, not London, from the group around Auret. That you mustn't go outside the country, but particularly you mustn't go to Botswana because you'll get...
Ja, which maybe was correct. But then at the time we felt very angry about that because it was for the movement to decide who should recruit people and who shouldn't; and it's not for people in the country to make that decision. I mean I am not sure whether we were correct or not, but that was certainly our very strong opinion at the time and that we should encourage people to travel, and what happened to them and what decisions they made, whether they said yes or no when overtures were made, well, that was up to them individually and up to the people who might or might not make overtures to them.
OK, I just want to ask you once again for a clear formulation of the line that you, in consultation with Zimbabwe, were pushing in 1982.
It was very clear. It was that firstly no-one who was involved with organisations which, at that stage for us meant Nusas, but we felt it was generally applicable - people involved in the trade unions it should apply to as well, for example - should go into the army in any capacity. If people did go in, it should be on the instructions of the movement, and then they must be prepared to take the public criticism and they have got to be strong enough to take that and not say: Well, actually, I've been told to go in. But we did accept that there obviously needed to be infiltration of the movement...
You mean of the army?
I mean of the movement in the army. But that the public position must be one of that people mustn't go in. And then the reason for that was partly negative in that people going in were very damaging for non-racialism, but more importantly that leaving people going into the army made it very difficult to organise a movement, which we were starting to conceptualise in a very unspecific way of what became ECC. That's what we had in mind; we never knew exactly how it work out, because things have unintended consequences, and they become bigger than, or different from what you believe [is possible]. We thought of an anti-war movement, and at that stage we thought about it largely as people not going into the army and sort of anti-militarisation. We hadn't sort of latched onto the conscription thing as a distinct issue rather than as an issue among others. That came later. So that was basically the position. And then what happened was that in 1982 that group started working within Nusas to shift things; they worked as a caucus against another caucus ; and then there was a big battle in Nusas, which later paralleled attacks on that group which became the Freeway House group in other circles independently.
By the Freeway House group, you mean Auret van Heerden's group?
Yes, which later became known as the Freeway House group. But at that stage, those of us who were involved had a much more limited aim which was simply challenging a position. We also had an idea, which proved to be fairly naive, that we would win it fairly quickly, because this was the obvious position, it was the movement position; when people became aware it was the movement position, they would accept that, and that would be that. In the end it turned out to be quite an intense struggle within Nusas. And then we--. So 1982 then, I went into COSG initially - I think I was the first person to go in from the non-Christian people - and then I had been too much in the forefront of that battle within Nusas, so I was then, it was decided that I should move out of COSG and then other people moved in who were less tainted in that struggle within Nusas. And my brother moved in there and Richard Goode moved in - he was also part of that group, by the way, and Chris Giffard moved in.
Is Goode, G-O-O-D-E?
Ja. But then, outside of that, we started organising, I think we had an anti-militarisation week, for example, which was at UCT, which we put a lot of effort into and it was highly successful. We got people to say on platforms - I remember my brother was at Nusas head office at that stage; it was bit sneaky what he did; everybody else was away, I think, except for Di Sandler - and he got up on a public platform where he - we kind of manipulated that he was the speaker - and he said: People mustn't go into the army. And he spoke as a Nusas person. and then he was slapped on the wrists for that. But that was intended. And then we made sure it was printed in the student newspaper. And so this line got out.
This is 1982 or 1983?
1982; it's all 1982. Because I left Cape Town at the end of 1982.
Can I check one or two things at this point. OK, You have got these links with Zimbabwe which go back to - can you remember the date and the year?
Well, you see, with different individuals, it was different...
In your case...?
It was December 1980.
Were there any other individuals who predate you in that link to Zimbabwe, significantly at all?
Not that I know of. Because I had been involved in organising in 1980 a trip to Zimbabwe to do research there and, you know, one thing led to another.
Now, after that 1980 - between that December 1980 trip and the end of 1982 - do you visit Zimbabwe again?
The beginning of 1982, that's when they give me the line.
That's when they give you the line.
At the end of 1980, they didn't tell me anything except that this is an important issue.
Now, do you consider yourself at that point a member of the ANC, or do you consider yourself as working with the ANC?
From the end of 1980 as a member, ja.
OK, now can you tell me: Do you maintain frequent contact with them, a message system?
Ja, look in 1980, it was a bit, the way things were set up was - I hadn't had any training then because of the circumstances then, a lot of other people going around. So there was a system of communication that was set up, basically posting stuff to an address, material, and then sending reports, also using the post. So that was a very unsophisticated way.
Were they coming back to you with stuff. Did you have an address for them, or some means of them getting messages to you?
No that year.
Not 1981, ja. So, there was a years inbetween with just me sending reports and publications and things out.
And you go up in the beginning of 1982?
Ja, beginning of 1982.
And then you set up, what, a better system?
A much better system with coding and whatever.
And do you have stuff coming in to you then as well?
After 1982, ja.
And how regular is this contact?
I'd send out reports on about a monthly basis, and we got back stuff more occasionally. I would say the stuff we got back was about every two months, maybe three months sometimes. And then publications also, we were sending a lot of stuff our in addition to reports. And then, in terms of us getting stuff, I was in a unit at that stage, distributing publications; but then that proved risky because of the profile in terms of other things. So we asked to stop that; and so we stopped that role. So there was quite frequent communication; the system worked fairly well, I think.
And then that post-beginning of 1982 communications, how long does that go - up until 1986?
Then you see I moved up to Johannesburg at the beginning of 1983. So, then I was working outside of any Cape Town connections.
Now, your unit in Cape Town, how large was it?
There were three of us. I can't mention who else.
I don't want to ask you. But it was a three-person unit. Were you all working more of less in this area?
Yes, we were all in the student movement.
Do other members of your unit overlap with the what becomes the ECC, with the...?
Mmm, ja. Me more directly. But, in terms of that caucus, all three members were involved in that.
In developing position and putting forward...?
Ja. They were all part of that.
The character of COSG: my understanding is that it's really a quite informal network of mainly church-based friends and whatever of the people, people like Moll, that first group of objectors from the mainstream churches?
So its initial character is not, of itself, political?
It's churchy; it's mainly support-based, as a support group, and campaigns around individual objectives. I mean there was Peter Moll and then there was Charles Yates, and then there were a whole lot of people in 1982. I think there were about six, or five in 1982. And then we worked directly with those. But I think once the more political people came in, we shifted things to a much more political emphasis in terms of militarisation as well, and so on, and because we were very unskilled at that, it created some tension between the church-based activists and the political people which gradually was reduced within ECC. But that did survive for a while. I mean I think initially our ends were - I would see them now, I didn't see them at the time - as fairly cynical in that we saw that this was a useful group to work within - you know that kind of--. It was not entrism, because our agendas were fairly clear - I mean we didn't go and shout ANC all the time - but we, later I think we started to realise that one needed a genuinely broad-based coalition where you accepted people for their own positions and you did try to sort of schny those who didn't hold your positions and sideline them and that kind of thing. So it wasn't just a platform. But at the time it was, we didn't always handle things in the best way possible - also because of the battles within Nusas where sometimes we tried to draw some of those people in to those battles, you know, to say things we couldn't say. So it was using people. But it was early days for that kind of broad-based politics. You know we had come from a different kind of tradition.
OK, so can we pick up on your brother giving this speech at this Nusas meeting? Can you give a date to that and can we move on from there?
The date, I would guess, would be about April 1982.
What kind of Nusas meeting was it?
It was a public meeting. It was the first time that anyone publicly from Nusas had said don't go to the army. And it was part of a big anti-militarisation focus...
And had Milcoms already been disbanded?
They had already been disbanded for a long time, over a year, two years, ja. I remember we also had a mass meeting in Jameson Hall - it was the biggest mass meeting they had had for years - and Peter Moll got up and said: Don't go in; and those who go in are part of the system and that kind of thing. And he got a standing ovation, so we thought we were quite bucked about that.
So, your brother - what's your brother's name again?
Michael gets wrapped over the knuckles by some people in Nusas?
At the time he had portrayed the things as he was prepared to listen to both sides, and some of these younger people at UCT are going overboard - although, in fact, he was part of the whole thing. We organised different people - you know it was, you know the politics of those times.
So let's pick up from that point. what are the developments then?
There is a massive row in Nusas about this thing?
Now, who is fighting against the position which your brother has put forward?
Well, the entire head office, the entire Johannesburg.
Who are still, what, aligned to the Freeway House group?
Well, to what became that; it wasn't called that at the time; it was only a bit later.
So who are we talking about?
We are talking about the Nusas president at that time - I think Jonty Joffe was the president...
Who was as thick as thieves with Auret van Heerden...
Ja, and Clive van Heerden. And then Auret came out of detention, and carried on putting that position. Then there was Mike Kenyon, who was at Rhodes...
And Sammy Adelman, where was he in all this?
Sammy just predate that. He left before that conflict broke out, so he wasn't part of that.
He had gone to Lesotho...?
Or wherever he went for, ja. Later Kate Phillip. there was a lot of conflict with her because she was from UCT and, you know, went along with that group and this kind of thing. So that's the way things basically panned out.
So, during this period, do you send any message out to Zimbabwe to say: Look, for Christ sake, there are a whole lot of other people here who are saying that the movement line is something different? Do you send that kind of communication?
Ja. Well, we had contact with them. We sent one of our people out and they met with somebody outside the country. And they said: Look there are problems; there's a couple of people who are out of line outside the country; but this is not the position, we can assure you; this is the position, so don't worry about it; continue.
And can you remember the approximate date for that reassurance that you got?
I remember somebody went out in July 1982.
OK, can we move to 1983, unless there is anything important that remains to be said in 1982. My understanding is that, in 1983, according to Laurie Nathan's thesis, that COSG has two national conferences and the Conscription Advice Service is formed in 1983. We also get the new Defence Act, or the amendment to the Defence Act, and we have the establishment of the community service provision and also this massive increase in penalties for conscientious objectors...
That's at the end of 1983, ja...
And then ECC also gets formed...
At the end of 1983, ja.
Now can you give me the development in 1983? What's the narrative?
Well, I guess there are two narratives. At the one level, what happens is that there is a COSG national conference in 1982, which...
Ja, the 1982 COSG national conference is very important because it brought people together nationally on a much more political way than had been the case previously. And that started forming a national alliance and this kind of thing. Then what happens is that Brett Myrdal - we decide that he should go to jail...
No well, he was happy about this, because it was only going to be two years. But we needed someone who was directly political and who was respected politically. At the time he was head of the Nusas labour committee, he was national coordinator. And he also, he's a nice guy and he's charming, this sort of thing. He's not combative like the rest of us, you know. So, he travels around the country; and this was a very good way of organising, both within Nusas and more generally. So he speaks to all the Black Sash people and this kind of thing. And then, at the Black Sash conference - I think it was about May or around then in 1983 - Sheena Duncan makes a call that we need a movement to oppose conscription. And so I don't know if that was related to Brett discussing it with her or not; but that was her position anyway. But then we picked up on this and pushed it through COSG, that now we need to form a campaign around this.
This is what, now mid-1983?
Ja. And so then some organisation started for an end conscription campaign or committee. For a while, the names were interchangeable. And I think the first one to launch was Cape Town.
The first what to launch?
ECC. I'm a little bit vague. I am sure that history's in Laurie's book. But so Brett played a big role and he was working also in the COSG which became the main forum and in Nusas: there was this parallel development going on. And by early 1983, those who were opposed to the kind of position we were putting were starting to drop it; it was becoming unpalatable politically to be going into the army, and I think the tension we had created around that, through pushing a contrary position, made it very difficult for people to go into the army, although quite a few did still in 1982. But, by 1983, that was beginning to die out. But there was still a reluctance within Nusas as a whole to take up the issue in more than a very token way. The COSG were quite strong by this stage in Cape Town, in Johannesburg, in Durban - I don't know if there were others; it was a bit later Pietermaritzburg and Grahamstown - but in those three areas the COSG were quite strong and they had a number of political people from the kind of Nusas tradition involved in them and pushing hard around objectors. We ran big campaigns around Billy Paddock in 1982, then in 1983 Pete Hawthorne, for example. We really put a lot of energy into the political objectors, and Freedom Charter and all this kind of thing, as part of their stand, like Pete Hawthorne for example. So that was giving real impetus to political objection. And then Brett's campaign - I mean we had him speaking on every platform that we could get him on to.
But why does he fuck off?
Because he's about to go on trial. And the day his trial is about to start, they postpone it. And then the new Act comes in, and it is eight years; then they reduced it to six. And we thought to go in for eight years, to take someone out for eight years is not worth it when he can rather be organising.
So this caucus decides this? It wasn't Brett who decided this alone?
The caucus decided this?
Ja. And he consulted with UDF people.
So it's not that Brett got cold feet?
No, not at all. He was happy to go for it if we decided he should go for it. He would have gone, definitely. So he was completely...
I must tell you a story about that. I once under-estimated Brett terribly...
Well, in another context, but I'll tell you about it some other time.
Well, he was quite happy to go in for the full period, you know. And was very reluctant not to go in. but he also consulted the UDF people and so on. The way he consulted was also not putting a position and then--. He was asking people what do you think? And then coming back to them. And that was the position he was getting from everybody, as well as from outside.
OK so Sheena Duncan comes out with this challenge in what, mid-1983? ECC in Cape Town forms first, as far as you can recollect. What's the process from there onwards?
Then 1984. End of 1983, there are also ECC set up in Johannesburg and Durban. And, at times, quite small but it's involving church people, Black Sash people. And then there's this ECC declaration which, I think, is about 1983 - that's when we start formulating it. I can't remember if we had finished by the end of 1983. and then we got signatories, organisations signing to that, who then became affiliates, or member organisations, I think that's the way we put it, to the campaign. And a lot of church groups, the Black Sash, etc, etc. In 1984, we also started setting up a relationship with the Progressive Federal Party Youth. And then in 1984, we ran a Namibia campaign. But it was still small until the troops went into the townships, end of 1984. Then it took off. And then there was a big fast as well, with Ivan Thoms and a couple of others, I think.
What I want to pick up on is this: you said that Sheena Duncan came out in what was it, early-mid 1983, with this call for the creation of an end conscription campaign of some kind. Now, what I am interested in is: Well you could have called for nobody to go into the army; you could have called for a number of things. But the call for an end to conscription strikes me as being quite ingenious; it was a very, very good pitch. Is it Sheena who gives this pitch? How do you people decide on this formulation of the issue?
I think what we had worked out then was we couldn't simply - the issue of objectors was too narrow. And with the six or eight years - at that early stage - penalty which later came in, that we weren't going to get many people to take that stand; we didn't expect to get any, really. And so we couldn't hinge things around that. There had to be a sub-, a side issue. Also that was too controversial to get that broad-based support. What we needed was a change in the law which would be acceptable within the liberal community, and within the white community more generally, and that ostensibly people could take that stand and still go into the army. Now, even though we were pushing hard at one level within Nusas and UDF structures and had won, by that stage really won that battle, we couldn't make that the general line for the average person in the white community.
I.e. not to go into the army?
Ja, because they weren't going to do that. So, although for a long time, ECC - in fact, right throughout really - was made up of people who weren't going to go into the army - I mean there were one or two people later on who went into the army and were part of ECC - it took a lot time for that to gel. ECC's position was perceived by the public as one of don't go into the army, even though it wasn't its position.
It wasn't formally it's position anyway.
It wasn't really it's position - even more than formally. We sort of accepted that we were going to have to have people who still went into the army.
You've spoken about "we" when we've spoken about this formulation of the end-conscription campaign as opposed to not going into the army. Who is "we"?
We at that stage, before ECC, was still that kind of caucus, but now it was linked to the movement and now it had strong links with the UDF.
Did other people in this caucus also have links to the movement? You had a unit, OK, which overlaps with this caucus. I am talking about independent of your line of communication.
Well, put it like this, we encouraged people to travel to Zimbabwe or wherever, and presumably people were recruited in that period. We knew never to ask. But, ja.
But you're pretty confident...?
Ja. Well, say Chris Giffard's trial. And Brett Myrdal is the person who was his handler, or whatever the word was. So Brett must have been recruited, I guess 1983, or whenever he went. But anyway, I am not sure.
But it is a safe assumption as far as you are concerned that there were other lines of communication to ANC external mission feeding into your caucus in the same terms that you were getting these positions?
Yes, yes, ja. I would be very surprised if they were all connected with Pete Roussos, though. I know that he fell out of favour at some stage.
Well, at one stage there was a change in structures.
That's off the record there - the mention to names there.
Yes, I take the point. Sure, OK. I know there was a change in structures. We're back on the record now...
Were there links with Cosawr in London over this period of development towards the formation of ECC?
At about that stage, I think, ja. People involved started to set up links with Cosawr, and it would have been mainly people within the caucus who would have had those links. There was always a sort of tense relationship with Cosawr. A lot of the people, because of the London connection with this Freeway House group, the Cosawr people were connected with them, so there was a little bit of tension there. And often The Resister publication hinted at different lines, and that kind of thing. So it was a tense relation, but it was the beginnings of setting up some kind of relation there. But not openly. That was very much. We never discussed that at that stage.
Did you ever send material at all for The Resister magazine? Material, reports for Resister?
Well, I didn't. Maybe other people did, I don't know.
But you were not aware of this?
Not at that stage, no.
I want to come back to a grey and murky area later. But OK, Cape Town is formed. You've got Johannesburg and Durban; they're all very small. There's the ECC Declaration that comes out...
And there's the Namibia campaign.
There's the Namibia campaign. When does ECC take on a national character - when Cape Town is formed?
No, it's in 1984 that it starts on a national basis. There was communication before then. But really what got it going as a national movement was the troops in the townships and then the fast. And what happens then is that that gives it a real impetus. And the big campaign around that - Pietermaritzburg and Grahamstown become involved and Port Elizabeth. End of 1984, early 1985, all of those start to set up committees. And then, by this stage, the "we" have people in each of those areas. So this is now a national network parallel to ECC. But Cape Town really remains the kind of genesis of it, where the key strategic thinking is done; everyone else is sort of missionaries.
Who's doing the strategic thinking?
I'm trying to think.
Well, there's Gavin Evans...
No, but in terms of the individuals in Cape Town...
Laurie at that stage? No, you see he was still in Nusas head office.
He becomes the national organiser in 1985, doesn't he?
Ja, that's when Laurie really comes into it, in the beginning of 1985. Not much before then. I think my brother, Michael Evans, was the Western Cape chair and then Chris Giffard, Richard Goode, Janet Cherry, who was also part of that caucus from the beginning in Port Elizabeth. Then in Grahamstown, Sue Lund and Roland White; in Durban Garry Cullen; Myself [Gavin Evans] in Johannesburg and then others, such as Grant Rex and Bonita Pavlitchovic.
Now, isn't Bonita married to Pete? No, no, no...
Ja, of course.
They weren't married then. Ja, those would have been the main people then. But what happens then is that once ECC is formed in Cape Town, there's a change because we then accept we can't operate as a caucus within ECC anymore. Even though we were operating as a caucus within Nusas - although I was out of Nusas and my brother was out of Nusas - but we still had our kind of proteges there, you know.
This is at UCT campus?
You learn political patronage young?
Ja. So, but within ECC we stopped, I think quite definitively, pushing lines and insisted on the integrity of the organisation. If the organisation takes a decision that goes against any line that we push, we accept that; we don't caucus ECC; that it must be a broad-based movement; and it must be genuine and democratic in a real sense.
Why do you decide this?
Because we felt that, if one is going to have a broad-based movement, then its character, to be effective, the people who are broadly based must be involved in the decision-making. It was uneven. Some people - someone like, off the record, Roland White, who was sort of given to caucus politics - found it difficult not to impose lines.
We are on the record now?
But OK, on the record, there were some people who found it more difficult than others in some areas to do that. But that was the position we were pushing; that the ECC is a separate organisation and, very importantly - because there was a push from some people, I can't remember who...
[End of Side A]
I think within ECC in Cape Town you had a lot of ultra-left elements, who were later people connected with the Marxist Workers' Tendency, people like Jack Lewis and Achmat and people like that, who later were quite vocally connected with MWT - at that stage were even more ultra-left - then there were people, I can't remember, maybe within our sort of broad Nusas-type structures who wanted the Freedom Charter to be adopted by the ECC, and we realised this would be wrong; it would be divisive. so we didn't do that. And there were also some people who wanted us to become an affiliate of the UDF. And we realised that wasn't going to be acceptable within ECC itself; it would lose people, and there would be no gains from that; that the strength of it was in its breadth.
Did you get any guidance from the movement for this kind of approach?
No, they accepted our approach. We were saying to them: This is what we think. And they said this is right. At this stage, we were determining the pace, and they were saying: Look, what you are doing is great; go for it.
So they were giving you positive encouragement?
Ja, all the time, and we would be saying: Look, these are the difficulties we are facing. And they would say: Look, you seem to be taking the right position there. So, we never got kind of negative feedback in terms of this kind of thing. I mean the relations with the movement - individuals had extended way beyond the ECC into more strategically orientated things. But, in terms of ECC, that was the way things worked; we were the determining the pace and the direction, and they were saying: Go for it; this looks great. So we decided not to affiliate to UDF, not to adopt the Freedom Charter, and so on. And, although it still had quite a line-to-UDF character.
Now, you do subsequently affiliate to UDF don't you?
That's interesting. I had been under the impression that you had.
No. It would have definitely divided ECC and taken away a lot of the very important people, people like Richard Steele, who were very key within ECC.
OK, the troops move into the townships. We have Sebokeng, Operation Palmiet and all that. Now how does it go from there?
In terms of ECC's growth?
Then April 1985, we have our first national ECC conference in Natal, and what happens then - by this stage there is already a national executive, which is the chair and one other rep from each region. And that operates right throughout. And then we have our first national conference; it gets raided by the special branch; and we elect a national organiser who is Laurie Nathan. That was a little bit controversial because he had just come out of Nusas. But we - the temptation to caucus, we didn't have to give into that, because there were no other people put up for that position.
You wanted Laurie anyway?
We wanted Laurie, ja.
Ja, Laurie was part of our caucus by then. But he had been through Nusas. And Laurie also handled things very well in terms of, in the way he handled things, in not operating like a caucus-type person, but in treating everyone equally within the organisation.
He's a very impressive guy.
Ja. He was very good. And so that he won the respect of people who justifiably and in the past with good reason would have been suspicious of the agendas of these UDF people, as they would have seen us. I mean there were always debates in ECC. But maybe gradually they stopped taking party political lines where people were pushing positions because they were UDF people and this was the UDF position on this issue in ECC; which, in a way, UDF was very backward in terms of this issue, so we were doing all the running anyway; and they would just accept what we decided. Later there were tensions with UDF and ECC.
When do those come?
I am trying to think. About 1986. I can't remember. There was one issue, for example, where we wanted Breyten Breytenbach to speak, and we got a very strong line against this from Jeremy Cronin and others because of their prison experiences. And I think in the end we bowed to that pressure, which was wrong. But it was going to cause too much tension with the UDF, but the Stellenbosch branch were very upset about that, I remember, at saying no to Breyten. And it was wrong; we should have gone for it. then in 1985, I think, in Johannesburg, ja it's towards the end of 1985, we had a debate between the then-leader of the PFP, Van Zyl Slabbert, who had come out quite critical of the ECC at that stage - something he has later regretted - and we had David Webster. Now, there was a line from some people in UDF, quite a strong line, that you don't ever have these people on your platform...
PFP people on your platform. And that we were having this debate. but we didn't bow to that pressure; we went for that debate. It was very successful in terms of drawing people; it was bad in terms of creating tension between the PFP and the ECC...
You mean the UDF and the ECC.
Between the PFP and the ECC, and it also created tension between the UDF and--. Ja. And also within this time, by this stage, the Freeway House people had come into ECC, but were critical of the direction: that we were too soft, that we were one-issue focused; we were using, talking about peace without giving content to this issue; that our symbols were naffy and it didn't help the workers' struggle and this kind of thing.
Why weren't you organising the revolution single-handed in other words.
Ja. We fought this out. We fought them quite hard within ECC. We never said these are people from another caucus, and therefore you must do this. We did it on the issues as they came up.
Now, who were these people from Freeway House who started challenging you?
In Johannesburg, there was this guy Peter Cranko, he was one of them, he was in Nusas. Also Nusas was an affiliate of ECC, so through the national head office there was input in this way. I can't remember the other individuals. Ja, there were quite a few.
Now, you hold a huge mass meeting in Cape Town. Is that in 1984 or 1985? Or is it much later.
On the troops out of the townships? Three thousand people in the City Hall; there were loudspeakers outside and that. That would have been either end of 1984 or early 1985.
Now, I understand why Garth Strachan was so proud of that meeting.
I remember Garth saying to me at that time: These ECC guys - forget these old toppies from the 1960s; you know, he's talking about the old COD people - he said: These ECC guys can get three thousand people...
It was a genuine three thousand. It might even have been more than that. That was a big thing. It was also a sort of - that meeting, I think, you know you have key things - it was showing that we could deliver, which was very important.
OK, we go through to 1986 and we have tensions with the UDF. But is it just continual sort of growth in the national relevance of the ECC? Is there any incident after 1984, 1985, which indicates any change of direction in the ECC?
Look Laurie would be better to speak to in this way. But there were periods when ECC had lulls. There was a big growth period of 1984 to 1986, where it just grew and grew and grew. We had about 10 branches by 1986 - Stellenbosch and all sorts of places. And they all there fairly strong in their own terms, and they had viable structures and they had membership and they were relatively broad based. I mean very relative at that stage. I mean broad-based was like Black Sash and church people rather than much further than that. We had PFP youth there in some of the areas and so on. One big thing in July 1985 was that festival. We had a huge ECC festival in Johannesburg where we got a whole lot of international speakers: Tutu spoke and there was somebody from the European parliament who spoke and there were movies and plays and workshops and discussion forums and public meetings, and so on. It was probably the most successful thing up until that period that we had organised. We called it our Peace Festival. But I can't remember what it's name was. And very good media. By that stage, ECC had its own tone. It was quite vibrant. A lot of people had come in from the arts community - we had art festivals and film festivals - they came because they didn't like the army, and it was one issue, and they could be comfortable within the organisation and no-one was pushing lines down their throat and they were part of a decision-making process - so a lot of refugees from Nusas. And refugees from other things. And people who were just gatvol with the army. And by this stage, it was - and all their skills were used and came into play. Cape Town was more successful always, partly because of the kind of city it is, a very liberal city, but other areas as well. They had successes. Work in schools started by then. the ANC was very encouraging of that; we had church groups and school groups and all sorts of things - various kind of outreach things. And a very kind of vibrant, colourful media profile and quite gimmicky. We would build sandcastles and get everyone around on the beach in Cape Town - was one example. And then the police would come and break down the sandcastles, and that's exactly what we wanted them to do.
Only in South Africa could the police be sent to break down sandcastles.
Ja. And of course by this time they were also trying to flood it with spies. We caught various of them. So that was - it was all kind of growth and forward-moving and outward looking, and there was competition between the regions in a kind of nice, healthy way. The festival was a big thing. Then there were ongoing smaller campaigns, and then, in 1986, we had this thing, this campaign "Working for a Just Peace", where we went into the whole thing of needing to show a positive face to the world; that, instead of fighting for the army, we should be doing these kinds of things. And then we got into helping to build schools and painting derelict buildings and community centres, and assisting in the building nursery schools - scores of these projects. This was a big campaign in 1986. And then we also started establishing international connections at that time. In 1985, Laurie Nathan went overseas to a big international peace festival. Then in 1986, I went to the United Nations at the United Nations Centre Against Apartheid to speak about ECC and conscription and about people in jail, and that kind of thing.
Now, where was ECC getting its funding from over this period?
It came from various overseas funders. I never dealt with the financial side of it, so I can't remember all the sources. Some of it came internally via I think SACC and SACBC. A Lot of it was channelled through them - we had very good connections in both of them.
SACC and SA Catholic Bishops' Conference - that was actually our best funder, I think. And then through the EEC and then, when I went overseas, we got funding through various American peace groups and others.
Were you aware that some, or all of these organisations, may have been going to the ANC and saying: Do you have any objection to this funding?
We used to suspect that they were probably doing that.
Most of them did. I'm just asking if you were aware...?
I mean they never said so outright, and the ANC never - the people they went to weren't probably the people that we were dealing with directly. Ja, we assumed as much.
And I understand the normal question that is asked of the ANC is: Do you have any objection to our funding this? And the ANC either says: No or yes. So it's not the ANC's endorsement; it's just the ANC's gainsay.
OK, I want to move back to the ANC now. OK, so you've got this unit; you are in contact with outside; they are giving you positive encouragement, as I understand you, on the establishment of ECC, on the kind of line that you are pushing, on your isolation of the issue which is end conscription; you're making the running; they're encouraging. Does there ever come a point where, in your contact with the ANC, you get corrected; they say: No, we think you are going about something incorrectly as regards ECC? That you can recall?
Look maybe. But I never had that experience.
Nothing significant that you can recall?
So, they never said: Look, we think you are fucking up here, change direction, we suggest you do this?
No. I would have heard if there was anything major.
To what extent did you get creative input from abroad?
You see, it came not at the campaign level, but in terms of ANC interests, obviously the ANC was interested in ECC, not just as a campaign, but there were a lot of subsidiary interests: setting up reading groups, for example, involving people in ECC and then out of those people recommending people to be recruited. So there were people within ECC who I am sure would have been recruited.
Were you involved in making recommendations of that kind?
Do you know if, in some instances, they were in fact followed up?
You do know they were followed up?
OK, that is one subsidiary interest which I have no difficulty in understanding. Were there other subsidiary interests?
Well, then there was the whole question of - what they did encourage us to do was to start thinking about a different strategic perspective, not ECC as a whole, which they were happy about - but in the back of our minds, it was stressed to us, we must be aware that what's needed, in terms of the kind of training that we had got, that we need to be infiltrating the SADF. We need to be looking for people in that way, and so on. That was the kind of--.
Are we on the record now?
OK, when you say the kind of training we got. What was the kind of training you got?
Well, it was this, what is it called?
MCW, military combat work.
You actually got MCW training?
Ja, quite extensive because there were a lot of things that we needed to - I say myself that I needed to know. I mean like--. Maybe I should just backtrack a little. My profile in Cape Town - because I had been the person in our group had been chosen as takin the forefront of the whole debate within Nusas - was that my security profile was quite [bad]. And that was a deliberate decision: that different people were chosen for different roles. Bret Myrdal was one thing, my brother Michael Evans was another, you know. But I was to be the hard man in that. Then you would have other people coming in with a compromise position, and that was all deliberately kind of worked out. And in 1983, there was a possibility of me going to Johannesburg - there were all sorts of personal reasons why I wanted to go, but the movement was very encouraging of that because they felt that we needed to start working at this level within Johannesburg. And initially, that first year, I wasn't involved in ECC at all; I didn't attend meetings, but I was involved behind the scenes in getting people to move into that. But one of my main things was to work, to find people within Nusas who could push our kind of position on the military. It wasn't just the military, it was a whole attitude to the movement, etc, etc, armed struggle and so on. Then there was also a subsidiary debate about that time, 1984, which was the whole CST thing which, at that time, we were encouraged to push within Nusas. And we got a lot of resistance from the Freeway House people who opposed it very strongly; they were pushing a racial capitalist position.
When you say you got pushed. This is from Zimbabwe?
Ja. And now I see it as no co-incidence that, at the same time, Jeremy Cronin was coming out with his arguments. It was all a [South African Communist] party thrust, you know. And I guess many of the people we were working with were all party people anyway, although we didn't know that at the time. I say "we", but we didn't work as a big caucus at that level. There were always assumptions made; but people didn't say: Well, I've got the hot line and that sort of thing. But there was just - some people would push a position, and you would suspect where it was coming from, and you worked by that kind of innuendo. So I went up to Johannesburg and worked in a much more low-profile way; there was one reason why I kept a low profile was that there were some people that came in mid-1983 who were questioned about me in connection with the ANC, but they didn't get anything. Nothing concrete. But there were also indications of surveillance, that kind of thing. I had to be hell of a careful at that stage. And we also felt that, at a security level, we had gone in so hard, that it had been a bit exposing of some of us. There were just so many coincidences. So we had to play things differently in terms of security.
So Gavin, so we are working up to this MCW training. When do you receive it? How do you receive it?
Well, first in the beginning of 1982 when I went there, but I went up with a group of people, so I had to find ways of breaking away from them and that. But then there were various people brought in. I don't know who they were; they all had other names. The only person I knew at that stage was Pete. And it was theoretical training, and then there was training in counter-surveillance, which did prove to be quite useful.
It's the only thing that I ever learned.
And then all this stuff about coding and concealment, which was also useful. And they taught me photographic techniques and all that, but I never had to use those; the use of tapes to send messages and ways of hiding it, when things were in a tape and those kinds of various ways of concealing documents, or concealing information. And then the whole theory of, I think it was about that stage, I think they were starting to push the whole insurrectionary thing. It was around about 1984.
Well, some of them were.
And a lot of reading and so on.
So you go this training in 1982?
Well, it started in 1982. 1982 was mainly in terms of coding and a little bit on counter-surveillance.
How many times did you go out?
Mainly once a year. But during that period where I was under surveillance, then there was a gap of two and a half years.
And what is the period when you are under surveillance?
When I was in - from the beginning of 1983 to the end of 1984. Two years. So there was a gap of two years. Or the beginning of 1982 to late 1984, where I didn't personally go out but there were communications structures - messages came to me from outside and that kind of thing. And it worked fairly well. I was also eight months in Port Elizabeth on that SAAN cadet course, so did a bit of work there, which was useful for them but it didn't fit in with the whole thing that was set for me.
OK, the component of MCW that strikes me was most appropriate to you was work in the enemy's armed forces. So what form did this take?
Well, it never got very far because the movement was a lot less organised than we had been led to believe, you know. Oh, the other thing we did was write pamphlets and that on local issues, and sometimes we would send them out, and sometimes when we would out, we would write them. And there was great [excitement??] when they came back in some recognisable form. In terms of work within the armed forces, it was basically what we were told, we needed to get ANC people in the armed forces, mainly at a political level, and in terms of when there are tensions, so that people outside in the glorious movement's underground, which was linked to the military underground, would be able to then send in a pamphlet there which manages to catch up on this issue of tension and create revolt within the armed forces and that we needed to look for people and recommend people who could be sent in to the military. But it was hard to find those people because most people, once they become politically involved, they already have a profile instantly. All the people we found - it never worked out properly because the movement was too slow.
Did you have any successes?
Well, I wouldn't know. I mean we did recommend people. I don't know. I would guess not, because they fucked things up always.
The movement did?
I think so. We would recommend things and then ages and ages and nothing would happen, and then the person was already high profile; and then we would send out another report saying: Well, look, this person is too high profile now. So I don't know what happened inbetween. There were people who I recommended.
Can you give a number as to how many people you recommended?
Myself. All I can say - I don't know what anybody else recommended - but for that period where they were worried about my security, they were thinking of me wanting to take me out of the country and that sort of thing. Which I didn't want to do. But they felt it was too risky for me to work within a unit for that period, so I was working by myself.
During this period I want to mention two names. Did you have contact with either - this is up until 1986 - with either Bill Anderson or with Ronnie Kasrils?
No. Much, much later briefly with Kasrils. And with Bill, I later met him and knew all about - it was clear that he knew my background. But not directly. But I gather indirectly some of the other people we were working with.
Were you aware of working specifically with anybody within ANC military intelligence?
Look, off the record, Brett Myrdal was part of military intelligence.
OK, let's go back on the record again.
And I sometimes did work with him outside.
What period do you start working with this person, Brett Myrdal - we are off the record again now.
OK. It was - well, you see, usually what happened is I was staying with him as an old friend, and I could justify that as an old friend. Also his profile - he was fairly successful as things went there, in terms of maintaining an acid-head profile, and he did it quite meticulously, so it was fine for me to stay with him. I could just say I didn't know if I was every interrogated about him. So, often he was a conduit for things and we would have a whole lot of strategic discussions, whether he was briefed of not to tell me things, I can't say, because it was operating on a more informal way. At times it was more formal in terms of establishing contact with various people and warning me about various things and whatever. But, ja, it was more on an informal basis with him. But it was approved that I was staying there, so I should think there was some formal level [of approval]. I never pressed him on it.
When do you start your dealings with Brett?
Well, he goes there mid-1984. but he's not my key person. By 1984, off the record for a while, there was this absolute poephol I had to deal with for a while called Jimmy Corrigall - he was useless and we made a recommendation about him, and then we didn't have to deal with him anymore. And then later I was dealing directly with - I can't remember what name we used to call him - but with Garth Strachan. Peter Roussos by 1984 is out of the picture.
Garth, alias The Fart. Well, he's good. Did you find him good?
Well, he was very competent. Jesus, after Jimmy Corrigall, anybody's competent. There were a whole lot of other people whose names I never knew; you know, they had other names. I didn't even know until much later who these people were.
OK, that's off the record then.
Now, a third area in which strikes me you may have been approached is general intelligence work of a military kind. Who's being called up when? Which train is passing which point when? Were you approached on this kind of work?
Yes, they said any information which I came across which could be useful to MK. I mean there were things like - recommendations for example - this if off the record...
Like there are hundreds of soldiers standing around at [...]; they are easy targets. Why are you hitting Wimpy Bars, when you can hit these people. There was one report where I gave in quite a lot of detail, went into all sorts of other things. Then there were things like, I remember one report about troop carrying planes going in an area. Then there was one report about Wits Command, and that - this is all of the record...
That it would be a very easy place to hit. And it was in fact hit later. I don't know if it had any connection with what I had said. I am sure they had independent people dealing with that. And there were also things of general intelligence, nothing particularly military about them - you know, various individuals. In fact, we were asked to send reports on them. They handled them fucking incompetently. One was this Joy Harnden, for example. I had sent out a report in 1984, the end of 1984, or the beginning of 1985, that there were strong reasons to suspect she was a spy. And I later hear, now, that she was recruited nine months after that report was received; and it was received.
What's even worse is that, in the interim, off the record, Olivia Forsyth had named her as an agent, and she was still recruited.
Was it after that?
Jesus. Oh, Olivia was another one, but it was only later, very late in the day. It was when she had come up to Johannesburg, and she was about to leave. We were quite stupid because of the whole conflict there, that we - I remember early 1985, Grant Rex was someone that I worked with at not a specifically movement level, who was the SRC president at Wits University at the time. And he said he thinks his grounds for suspicion are real...
About Olivia Forsyth or Joy Harnden?
About Olivia. No, Joy, I was sure about, right from the beginning. But it was very, very difficult to deal with her because she got into the Black Sash and a lot of people in the ECC trusted her and so on. So you just isolated her from all strategic decisions. But it took ages. And the movement wanted us to get her out of the country. And the car kept breaking down just as she was about to leave, and all sorts of things. And then I was sent down to Grahamstown to investigate her in the university records. And one of the people I asked about it, told Olivia about it - when I had told the person not to say anything to anybody about this, but this person trusted Olivia and so she came and asked me about Joy. And by this stage I was already suspicious so I said: No, no, we've cleared her of all suspicion. But, I mean there was this kind of thing. Olivia was another - this is just a side issue - we said there were grounds for suspicion but it was being handled within Nusas; mustn't discuss it within UDF circles. I can't remember, but I am sure at that stage I would have sent out a report saying there were grounds for the suspicions around her. And then much later, I heard that she was in fact caught. But we were never sure about her because the people we were working with at Rhodes trusted her. So we never even discussed those suspicions with the people at Rhodes because it was just too sensitive.
Well, she completely fooled me.
Ja. She stayed for a week in my flat, uninvited; she just arrived. And my flatmate, Maxine Hart, said: Oh, I just don't trust this woman. And I knew already then there were suspicions about her, because six months earlier I had had this discussion with Grant Rex and he had said: Look, we are still looking into it at this stage, but make sure she doesn't get any position in UDF; sort of block her without using these reasons. But anyway, that's an aside.
OK, Gavin I just want to return to one or two points. The first is: I am not going to want to know names now, but I just want to know were there other people - you said you assumed there were other people in this caucus, in this ECC network, who were doing similar work to yourself. Have you subsequently managed to establish that in the period up to 1986 there were other people with independent lines of communication, who were doing these different sorts of tasks that you were involved in?
You are saying yes, there were?
Do you - in your direct knowledge - can you give a rough indication of the number that you know?
OK. Some of them peripherally involved, but input into ECC things indirectly, and if you include those - let me just work it out - there were people I know, rather than strongly suspect. If you include Brett then at least eight. Some of these I've only discovered quite recently because now talk quite openly about things in the past. I think I always suspected all of them anyway, but I didn't know on some of them until recently.
I just want to read you Laurie's formulation of the ECC's central objective. He says: The ECC's central objective was to contribute to the struggle for national liberation by building opposition in the white community to conscription, militarisation and the role of the SADF. Would you go along with that? I'm specifically interested in his statement that it was "to contribute to the struggle for national liberation".
You would say that that...?
Ja, but you see that was not ECC's central objective as ECC. It was to change the law regarding military conscription, full stop. That's it. Those of us who were UDF people had that central objective that he spoke about; so it is only partially correct; because, if you ask Richard Steele what the central objective was, he might say to end the law regarding military conscription. But there was no hidden agenda in the sense of that because it was always made clear.
[Break in Tape]
OK, this is two additional points on the record.
Ja. The one point - the way it has maybe come across is that things were maybe a lot more conspiratorial than they worked in practice. In practice, the decisions on both the major and the minor issues were taken within the ECC quite openly without hidden agendas. But when we decided on a central thrust, let's say a campaign or even something small like a sandcastle thing, whether it was big or small, it was the ECC that decided that and the movement had no, or virtually no input into that. They never disapproved, but that was the way it worked. So, from quite early, it did work in a genuinely democratic way, rather than in a caucused way. The ANC wasn't steering it; we were steering it and the ANC was saying: Ja, lekker. Then the second point is that probably all of us - we had other roles in the movement - we weren't just, ECC wasn't our sole or, I don't know about other people, but it wasn't our sole area of work. So, the fact that we were movement people wasn't just related to our ECC involvement. We were ECC members among other things, whatever roles we were playing.
What other roles were you playing?
Well, it differed from individual to individual.
Well, in your case?
Well later, this is off the record...
From what date is this?
From early on, there was involvement with the UDF. Then I was starting to work in a unit again from about late 1986, a new unit.
Based in Johannesburg?
Ja. And then, from about the end of 1987, or beginning of 1988, things were...
That's outside my period.
Then they were based within the country and things changed completely.
What I'd like to know is that, up until 1986 - following from the last point you have just made - up until 1986, sorry up until 1986, were you receiving whatever guidance you were receiving for movement work only from outside?
So, am I correct in putting it this way: that up until the end of 1986, there was no internal ANC command structure under which you, as ANC, fell?
I'm correct in saying that, am I?
Yes. I was part of - at the end of 1986, I was put back in a unit. But that unit reported directly to outside the country. So there was no internal command structure.
So, to the extent that you ever received command and control from the ANC it was from outside [until 1986]?
It was from outside.
[End of Interview]