Introduction: "The Memorandum" refers to a searing criticism of the armed, anti-colonial, anti-apartheid movement in South Africa in particular, southern Africa in general, that was being waged from the early 1960's until the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) unilaterally and without consultation with that armed wing brought it to an abrupt end in 1992. This armed resistance extended beyond South Africa and included present-day Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. The document is sometimes called "The Hani Memorandum," after Chris Hani, one of the principle leaders of the armed resistance, Umkhonto we Sizwe. Hani, a South African Communist Party member, and its future general-secretary was assassinated in 1993 in front of his home by a lone Dutch man who reportedly flew all the way from Europe to do so because he hated communism. Hani's signature to this document only made its words that much more potent and a matter of urgen concern for the ANC leadership.
The Memorandum, and its "16 Points," was disseminated from the trenches in 1969 out of tactical defeats and as some of the armed resistance became aware of concerns described in the document. Its dissemination initially got Hani suspended from the ANC, and there was talk of having him killed. His standing as a leader and the intervention of a few prominent ANC and SACP members averted this.
Of the signatories, only one comrade did not come back into the ANC or SACP, and he became an informer for the apartheid South African security services and was himself assassinated by the ANC in 1977.
It is clear from this criticism of the liberation struggle that was becoming corrupted that dealing with traitors with assassination was uncontroversial and supported by the signatories. They say so. The Memorandum opposes the "veil of secrecy" under which these executions happen, implying those in prestige are merely liquidating opposition.
Since I support this tactic it is important to qualify the difference between the signatory who became an informant for the racist, apartheid government and Hani himself who was clearly trying to improve the movement for the success that has evaded it to this hour.
When Mandela in talks with the white government agree to an end of the armed struggle, Hani was vocal in opposing this but, like a good soldier, relented.
And so it follows that the suspicions around Hani's assassination are warranted since assassination was a blunt instrument in the arsenal. It was assumed that Hani, by this time general-secretary of the SACP, would either become South Africa's first democratically elected president post-apartheid or would certainly succeed Mandela. By extinguishing him and severely marginalizing Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, what the "new" South Africa would look like was forecast.
Since institutions - even communist ones - are conservative by nature and suspicious of growth and change, insular, incestuous, and afraid of its young, every radical movement needs a Hani Memorandum to clean its Herculean stables. We certainly need one now, as many of the Memorandum's pointed criticisms can be laid at the feet of our ostensibly "leftist" political parties.
This they say openly and in fact show it. Such a situation is very serious and in fact a revolutionary movement has to sit down and analyze such a prevailing state of affairs.
The situation is further aggravated by the fact that accredited members of the Organization are no longer consulted or no longer participate in policy-making decisions of the Organization – there have been two or three conferences when the leaders met or did not consult or inform the membership of the resolutions. The inference is that we are no longer considered members of the ANC. As the leading revolutionary core of the Organization it is imperative for members of M.K. to participate in all matters affecting the revolutionary struggle in South Africa.
We raise the above points so as to arrest the present trend.
1. The ANC Leadership in Exile has created a machinery which has become an end in itself. It is completely divorced from the situation in South Africa. It is not in a position to give an account of the functioning branches inside the country. There has never been an attempt to send the Leadership inside since the Rivonia Arrests. There has been an overconcentration of people in offices – this has become a fully fledged activity in itself, (e.g., you get a Director of Youth who maintains no liaison with the home front.
There are other departments, such as the Treasury Department, which is to all intents and purposes catering for activities outside, and whose functioning is only limited and known to a few people. The Department of the Secretary-General, which has not furnished any reports on political activities in the various regions in the country. The Department of Publicity, which is giving out propaganda geared only to external consumption. The quality of information is not revolutionary and is out of step with the existing political situation inside the country. Its material hardly gives a deep analysis of the prevalent situation inside).
We strongly feel that time has come that the department should make every effort to reach the masses of our people by seeing to it that more and more of its revolutionary propaganda is written in the language of our people.
2. We are disturbed by the careerism of the ANC Leadership Abroad who have, in every sense, become professional politicians rather than professional revolutionaries.
We have been forced to draw the conclusion that the payment of salaries to people working in offices is very detrimental to the revolutionary outlook to those who receive such monies. It is without doubt that such payments corrupt cadres at any level and have the effect of making people perform their duties or fill offices because of money inducement rather than dedication to the cause – they become in effect merely salaried employees of the movement. It is high time that all members and cadres of the ANC, be they in M.K. or not, should receive equal treatment and be judged only on the basis of their dedication and sacrifice to the cause we serve. The principle of thorough selection of cadres should be on the basis of merit and such selection should never be delegated to an individual – this will prevent individuals owing allegiance to those who appoint them rather than to the Revolution.
3. The Leadership of the ANC abroad must be committed to a resolution and program of going home (to South Africa) to lead the struggle there, which resolution and program must be seen to be implemented. Presently there is a Leadership vacuum as all the leaders are either locked up in Vorster’s prisons or are in exile. This has deprived the South African masses of leadership which is so vital at this crucial moment of our Revolution. A situation where our people, because of this vacuum will be deceived by opportunists of all shades is strongly developing. We feel that the number of leaders attending international conferences and other globetrotting activities should be cut down to a reasonable few and the remainder should work around the clock working on the home front.
4. There are certain symptoms which are very disturbing and dispiriting to genuine revolutionaries. These comprise the opening of mysterious business enterprises which to our knowledge have never been discussed by the leadership of the Organization. For instance, in Lusaka, Zambia, a furniture industry is being run by the ANC. In Livingstone, Zambia, a bone factory whose original purpose was to provide cover for underground work in Botswana is now being used as a purely commercial undertaking.
As a result of these enterprises more and more M.K. men are being diverted to them.And some of the people in charge of these enterprises are dubious characters with shady political backgrounds. We are therefore compelled to conclude that there is no serious drive to return home and carry on the struggle. This is disturbing because the very comrade, Thabo More, who is supposed to be planning, directing, and leading the struggle in South Africa is fully involved in these enterprises. Now he has assumed complete responsibility for the running of these enterprises in collaboration with others, and it is extremely doubtful that with his attention so divided he can do justice to the armed struggle in South Africa, which should be his primary and absolute concern. The Leadership of the ANC can’t but be blamed for this state of affairs.
5. An equally disturbing situation is that M.K. is being run completely independently of the Political Organization. The Political Leadership Abroad is not aware of the activities and plans of M.K. We therefore infer that M.K. is separate from the ANC; that there is conflict between the ANC and M.K.; that the ANC has lost control over M.K.; that there is no co-ordination between the ANC and the M.K. All this has brought about a situation where the ANC is run single handed by the Commander-in-Chief who appoints and dismisses arbitrarily – as a result there is a tendency among members of the Headquarters to owe allegiance to the individual who appoints and dismisses them and it takes a genuine revolutionary to challenge him. We are compelled to blame the National Executive for this anomalous situation.
6. The Security Department is internally directed. It is doing nothing against the enemy. It has achieved nothing of military importance. The failure of the so-called Security Department has been shown by its inability to furnish the Organization with the fate of our most dedicated comrades in Zimbabwe. Or how is it possible that so many comrades have been able to desert so successfully? In the prosecution of its internally directed activities the Security Department has become notorious. Those who serve in it have the central task of suppressing and persecuting dedicated cadres of M.K. who have nothing to lose by participating in the struggle except their chains.
Most disturbing is that a comrade raised this matter with the Secretary-General and Chief of Security of the ANC, Duma Nokwe, who agreed that the matter of the above comrades flirting with the Peace Corps was true and that it should be furnished in writing, but no action was taken. This is very disturbing and discouraging to serious revolutionaries who know fully well that these three comrades are close to the leading figures of the ANC and M.K. For instance, Joseph Cotton is the son of Moses Kotane the Treasurer-General of the ANC and General Secretary of the South African Communist Party (S.A.C.P).
Shadrack Tladi is relative of Thabo More who is Commander-in-Chief of M.K. and member of the National Executive of the ANC Abroad. This has made us and many other comrades conclude that there is nepotism in the ANC.
An equally perturbing fact is that Mrs. V. Nokwe, the wife of the Secretary-General and Chief of Security of the ANC, Comrade D. Nokwe is presently working for Amiran-Israel, an internationally known Israeli intelligence Organization operating under the cover of an Import-Export firm. This Amiran-Israel is a coordinating center for Israeli Intelligence Services (Shinbet) in Southern Africa, Central Africa including Congo-Brazzaville, and Congo-Kinshasa.
Israel is a nest of imperialism, which is actively sabotaging the National Liberation. Presently it has colonized parts of Arab territories and is maintaining close links with the most reactionary and fascist governments, such as South Africa and the revanchist Federal Government of [West] Germany. We demand an explanation for this anomalous situation, and we demand that we should cut links with the counter revolutionary organization forthwith, and should there be any other links with the Israelis, the ANC should sever them in the interests of our Revolution.
7. The tragedy of the Zimbabwe campaigns is the fact that we have been unable to analyze our operations so as to be able to assess and draw lessons that would make it possible for us to formulate a correct strategy and tactics vis-à-vis the enemy.
8. It is a cause for serious concern that comrades who have come back from the battle front have not been accorded a comradely reception and the fact that there has been no re-appraisal of their combat experience.
We are shocked by the criminal neglect of our most dedicated comrades who have either fallen in battle, sentenced to death, or serving long-term imprisonment in Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia). These men are heroes who have performed their revolutionary tasks gallantly without flinching. How can we possibly keep quiet over these valorous sons of South Africa?
Is this not an indication of callousness and irresponsibility on the part of the leadership? The behavior of the Secretary-General and Chief of Security of the ANC, D. Nokwe, and his attitude towards Comrade J. Mlenze, when we petitioned for a meeting, disturbed us greatly. For him to have said he did not know, did not recognize Mlenze is a height of indifference and cynicism and we are really very worried about it. Here is a comrade from the battle front, a Commander of a unit, and a Security Chief of a vital region, namely Transkei (a Bantustan established by the apartheid South African government in southeast Africa), accorded this type of snub.
9. We are perturbed by the fact that certain members of M.K. are receiving payments from the External Mission, e.g., the Commander-in-chief and the C.P.O. who as a matter of fact are getting allowances and the fact that the Commander-in-Chief has a posh and militarily irrelevant car at his disposal. The fact that these soldiers are paid has a very demoralizing effect on the other Revolutionaries.
10. Individual leaders keep cars and run them and this coupled with the fact that they receive salaries as allowances is in every way building them up as a middle class in our revolutionary organization and in M.K.
11. A strange and alarming trend is developing whereby secret trials and secret executions have been carried out. We are not against the execution and liquidation of traitors, but we are against the veil of secrecy. We are having in mind the trials of Zola Zembe, Wellington Mbata, Phalanyane, and Bopela.
It is a shame that we should have been witnesses to the emergence of extremely reactionary methods of punishment in M.K. There have been instances when offenders in M.K. have been dumped in dugouts filled with several drums of water without blankets or any other protective material for periods of up to about 22 days. The cases in point are those of Daphne Zwane, Tallman Ndlovu, Bob Zulu, Erends, and Joseph Ndlovu. This type of punishment, among others, is, from any angle, criminal and inhuman, and must have been designed to break the physical and moral integrity of its victims.
12. The ANC is the vanguard of the revolutionary struggle in South Africa, and it is strange that its leaders have not been obliged to take the M.K. oath. We strongly feel that there is no difference between the leaders of the ANC and men of M.K. who are obliged to take the oath, for such an oath might have dealt with J. Radebe’s desertion and will definitely deal with any other leader harboring right-wing designs of sabotaging our revolution.
13. The development of the Revolution has necessitated a renewal and rejuvenation of those who are leading it. We must guard against the fossilization of the leadership as this is likely to hinder the progressive development of the Revolution. There has been a tendency to appoint people to the National Executive outside. We would like to know what is the yardstick for these appointments. After proper consultation with all the members of the ANC a method should be found of changing leadership and the fact that there have been no conferences involving all our members at home should not be used as an excuse for not renewing the leadership. We should not depend on mandates given at national conferences 10 or more years ago. We have been forced to conclude that a few individuals are monopolizing posts in the Organization. This has brought about a situation where members of the Planning Council are also members of the National Executive.
14. It is very alarming that double standards as regards to health of the members of the Organization are maintained. Whenever leaders are sick arrangements are made for them to receive excellent medical attention without delay, but this sort of concern is hardly shown to the rank and file of the movement. We maintain that all of us are important in so far as the Revolution is concerned and should thus be accorded the same treatment.
15. We consider the youth in M.K. as the most revolutionary. We strongly feel that we should be consulted on matters affecting the youth. For instance, we must be informed about the revolutionary International Youth gatherings, and we should be given priority in the sending of delegates. The farce of the Bulgaria ANC Youth delegation should never be repeated and those responsible should acknowledge the mistake they made. The Youth of South Africa is not located in London or in any European capital. We therefore take particular exception to the appointment of certain students as leaders of the ANC Youth. Thabo Mbeki who went to London on a scholarship sponsored by the National Union of South African Students [NUSAS] is a leader of ANC’s bogus Youth Organization.
We are convinced that the ANC leadership in Exile is according better treatment and attention to the students. This attitude and practice has had a disastrous effect of diverting many would-be revolutionaries into the academic field. We feel that it is high time that the M.K. personnel, which is in fact the core of our Revolution, should be given the best treatment by virtue of having volunteered with their lives to give the supreme sacrifice for the Revolution.
Another disturbing symptom is the glaring practice of nepotism where the leadership uses its position to promote their kith and kin and put them in positions where they will not be in any physical confrontation with the enemy. The sending of virtually all the sons of the leaders to universities in Europe is a sign that these people are being groomed for leadership positions after the M.K. cadres have overthrown the fascists.
We have no doubt that these people will just wait in Europe and just come home when everything has been made secure and comfortable for them playing the typical role of the Bandas and others. As opposed to the treatment of the students, we find complete indifference and apathy to the heroes and martyrs of our Revolution who have fallen in South Africa and Zimbabwe. We have in mind the gallant sons of our country, who without doubt lay their lives in the struggle against imperialism. These include, among many, Patrick Mosedi, one time President of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), and former treason [defendant], Benson Ntsele the tireless Commissar, the young cream of our country, Sparks Moloi, Chris Mampuru, James Masimini, and Andries Motsepe.
We have not forgotten those who have defiantly and stubbornly refused to be frightened by the hangman’s noose in Rhodesia following the heroic example set by our murdered martyrs Vuyisile Mini, Zinakile Mkhaba, Diliza Khayingo, W. Bongco, and others. These comrades are the dedicated Alfred Mninzi known to many of us as James Harmanus, Tamane known as Zami, the son of that great revolutionary and women’s leader Dora Tamane, the young Rhodes Msuthu Ngamlana known to us as Charles Mhambi, and Tula Bophela.
16. We call for a full definition of the ANC-Zimbabwe African People’s Union. alliance, its form and content.
We demand that a serious and genuine effort should be made towards the intensification of ways and means of going home. This should be one actively involving the most dedicated members of M.K. and it should be on the basis of a correct strategy.
In conclusion all these problems must be resolved by a conference between the ANC Leadership and members of M.K. and not just handpicked individuals.