25 April 1969
The vital and central task of the African National Congress today is the intensification of the armed struggle for the overthrow of the white fascist regime and the liberation of our motherland. Today armed struggle together with other forms of struggle constitute the weapons of the oppressed in our country against the oppressor. How can we intensify the revolution? What forms of organisation can ensure the maximum mobilisation of all the resources at our disposal? What are the motive forces of our struggle and their potential? What strategy and tactics are to be employed?
These are some of the problems and questions that require our consideration and solution.
Our struggle is being waged in a complex and difficult national and international situation. The correct solution of the problems of our revolution require a proper understanding of the international as well as the national situation.
This involves a correct assessment of the strength and weaknesses of the enemy and its imperialist allies, as well as our own strength and weaknesses, our potential and that of the whole anti-imperialist forces.
Our immediate enemies, the white fascist regime in South Africa, are an important and integral part of the imperialist camp. Internationally the imperialists` main preoccupation today is a desperate attempt to stem the anti-colonialist movement, and to regain their former positions of political, economic and military dominance over the peoples of the world. To achieve their objective they have embarked upon a global strategy of reactionary and brutal counterattack against progressive governments and revolutionary liberatory movements. The imperialists resort to numerous methods, for instance:
The objective of the imperialists in their global strategy is to isolate, undermine, subvert and wreck everything whether it be a State or organisation which is progressive and anti-imperialist and to consolidate and reconstruct all pro-imperialists, and reactionary institutions in the world.
Opposed to this frantic counteroffensive is the mighty anti-imperialist force and movements. It is the united force of popular, progressive and revolutionary States and organisations.
The apparent strength of the imperialists is in their massive military and economic potential. Politically they are weak and getting weaker by the day. They are incapable of complete unity even among themselves because of the constant rivalry to redivide markets. In addition the rise of anti-imperialist revolution is constantly undermining the false image of their superiority. Even militarily their "invincibility" is being exposed by the humiliating defeats they are suffering from smaller and relatively weaker nations which are economically less developed. The dilemma of the United States in Vietnam caused by the shattering and humiliating blows from the heroic people of Vietnam exposed the basic weakness of the leading and most aggressive imperialist powers.
In addition the developing countries no longer wish to associate themselves openly with the capitalist system which to the vast masses of the people spells ignorance, disease and poverty. The impact of socialism on the masses of the people is steering States of the third world to pronounce their objectives as socialist in one form or the other.
Mass support and even submission is shrinking in the direction of resistance and revolt both in the former colonial countries and amongst vast sections of the populations in the imperialist countries themselves. The Anti-Communist bogey through which the imperialists try to justify all their reckless and brutal interference is wearing thin as a veil to hide their fiendish plots of plunder, greed, exploitation, aggression and atrocities, which they perpetrate against the peoples of the world.
As the capitalist world begins to shrink, the rivalry between the imperialists for markets and dominance increases and so do their differences and conflicts. Military and economic organisations like NATO, CENTO, SEATO, the OAS and the Common Market which were set up to protect shaky imperialists economically and militarily, become insecure and are in a constant state of crisis. The domination of her partners by the United States is being challenged. The prestige of the imperialists and especially that of their leader - the United States - is dwindling. Throughout the world criticism of their complete disregard for human rights and their support for fascist and racialist States like South Africa, Portugal and West Germany is mounting and becoming more caustic. Economic crisis is seriously aggravating their position at home and abroad. The imperialists appear strong, formidable and sometimes even invincible but in fact they are growing weaker and weaker as the Socialist community grows stronger and liberation movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America struggle more fiercely for independence; and the masses in the imperialist countries themselves challenge the policies of the rulers.
Apart from inherent causes leading to division amongst the imperialists, one major factor which has contributed to the crisis in which imperialism has found itself is the growing might of the Anti-imperialist movement.
The anti-Imperialist movement is the united struggle and effort of all anti-imperialist States, organisations and individuals throughout the world. It is a broad movement composed of people with different political beliefs, of different races and colours, from different walks of life but who are united by their hatred of the evils of imperialism and racialism and their firm belief in national independence, genuine democracy, race harmony and peace.
The pillars of the anti-imperialist movement are the Soviet Union, the Socialist States in alliance with the progressive States of Africa, Asia and Latin America, the revolutionary liberation movements in countries which are still under colonial or white minority rule, and the democratic forces in the imperialist countries themselves.
The anti-imperialist movement is based on the fact that the destinies of all peoples struggling against imperialism are interlinked and inextricably interwoven. The joint and concerted action of all progressive forces against imperialism and the mobilisation of the vast masses of the people into a united anti-imperialist front constitutes a mighty and invincible force for the destruction of the imperialists. Unity and action are therefore cardinal in the fulfilment of this objective.
The African National Congress and the oppressed and exploited peoples of South Africa together with all genuine democrats are an integral part of the anti-imperialist movement of the world. We share with all other anti-imperialist peoples of the world common aims and objectives and common enemies.
There are numerous international organisations whose basic object is the mobilisation of the people against imperialism, like OAU, WFTU, WIDF, WFDY, IUS, the World Peace Council, the Afro-Asian People`s Solidarity Organisation, the Afro-Asian-Latin American Solidarity Organisation, the Association of Democratic Jurists, the Afro-Asian Writers Association, AATUF, the Pan African Youth Movement, the African Women`s Conference, and others. The African National Congress has and still participates as fully as it can in the activities of these bodies and in many instances serves on their executive bodies. This apart from the bitter struggle of the people in South Africa against the fascists and imperialists has been a significant contribution to the global anti-imperialist struggle. It is impossible, if not fatal, to divorce the struggle of our people in South Africa from the struggle of the peoples of the world. Is the participation of the African National Congress in these international bodies useless and wasteful? Certainly not. Not only do we join the powerful mass of mankind fighting the same enemies, but we are able to disseminate information about our struggle, thereby winning and strengthening ourselves and our allies and obtaining both moral and material support for our struggle.
The international support for our struggle against the South African fascists has been mounting. But misconceptions and even ignorance of the conditions in our country and the struggle are still there in the most unexpected quarters. This is sometimes due to the fact that the enemy and its allies are busy through a well-organised internationally pro-apartheid lobby, distorting and lying about the situation in the country. It is of course correct that action inside our country is a more positive and dynamic contribution towards the struggle against imperialism. But the action itself and constant international explanation and agitation must go hand in hand. It is not necessary to go into details of how the so-called "Mau-Mau" struggle was slandered and isolated by the British to the extent that it was not understood and not effectively supported by the international progressive world for lack of proper publicity. Much harm resulted from this circumstance. Karl Marx`s call "Workers of the World Unite" is equally applicable to the anti-imperialists at this grave and critical time. "Anti-imperialists of the World Unite!"
The past decade has been an era of national revolution and upsurge of anti-imperialism which has resulted in the most rapid and unprecedented disintegration of colonialism in its old form. The frontiers of imperialism have shrunk under the pounding blows of the offensive launched by the liberation movements throughout the world.
Within a period of less than ten years the number of independent African States has reached 41. The phenomenal victory by the national liberation movements over the imperialists was made possible by a number of factors. Firstly the fundamental change in the world situation which has been brought about by the steadily growing strength of Socialist countries which are selflessly dedicated towards the struggle for the destruction of colonialism.
Secondly, militant and determined liberation movements have been growing in the colonial countries. Thirdly, systematic and conscientious efforts have been made by all anti-imperialist forces throughout the world to forge unity and to pool their resources against colonialism.
Fourthly, the inherent greed of the imperialists has produced conflicts within their own ranks which have resulted in manoeuvres and counter manoeuvres against each other. Finally each imperialist country has been weakened by crisis and internal problems within its own State, and the vigorous onslaught of working class and other democratic movements.
The victories of the liberation movements particularly in Africa, whether they were achieved by peaceful or violent means, have been a source of great inspiration to millions of oppressed people and have given impetus and momentum to their dream which almost immediately became a reality. The growth of regional, continental and international anti-imperialist organisations and the numerous acts of solidarity amongst the anti-imperialist people have become a life belt to those who are still battling in the storm against the racialists, colonialists and fascists. One of the great achievements of this era has been that colonialism as an ideology has been outlawed internationally and the people have discovered their immense strength to assault it successfully. The myth and facade of the invincibility of the racialists, colonialists, imperialists have been disproved forever. The victories of the national liberation movements were in most cases not easy, smooth and complete, nor was the retreat of the imperialists always unplanned or a complete defeat. Imperialism resorted to many political, military, economic and other stratagems to extend its lease of life and to save as much as it could in its erstwhile colonies.
In parts of the world like southern Africa and Guinea-Bissau, the imperialists are continuing to resist the legitimate demands of the people through ruthless repressions and terrorism. This is no accident but a deliberate design by the imperialists to maintain these areas as their last frontiers, as bastions of colonialism and as a springboard for recolonisation.
Imperialists have never approved the abolition of colonialism and the oppression and exploitation of the people. They were forced out of their former colonies by the strength of the people. They tried to cover their retreat by making loud announcements that they were "granting the people their independence". This was a despicable lie. It is only through the courageous struggles and sacrifices of the people that they have won their freedom. The disintegration and collapse of colonialism and the growth and unity of the anti-imperialist forces have driven the imperialists to desperation which has led them to launch a sinister and vigorous counteroffensive against the newly independent States, the national liberation movements and the anti-imperialist organisations.
This counteroffensive is yielding to spectacular victories for the imperialists and temporary and serious reverses for the African revolution as well as dangerous cracks in the unity of the anti-imperialist forces of the world. The initiative which had been so firmly held by the anti-imperialist forces of the world is in grave danger due to this counteroffensive of the imperialists.
It is true that the initiative has not been lost yet. But within the space of two years the imperialists have done sufficient damage to independent States, liberation movements and anti-imperialist organisations to shake us out of our complacency and to call for greater vigilance and a closer study of the methods of the imperialists. The victories of the imperialists and the reverses of the revolutionary anti-imperialist forces are undoubtedly a temporary phenomenon. That is a fundamental fact derived from an understanding of the character of the epoch in which we live. However, comforting as this fact may be in the long run, it is no solution to the grave problems which now face us. Nor is it an effective answer to the grim counteroffensive which is causing so much suffering to millions of people.
The real solution can only be found by an exhaustive and candid examination of the strength and weaknesses, mistakes and faults, the potential of the anti-imperialist forces on the one hand and on the other, the strategy and tactics of the imperialists which have enabled them to exploit these weaknesses and mistakes to score the victories they have recently scored.
The bold and aggressive counteroffensive of the colonialists has been timed to take place at a time when there is discord in the anti-imperialist forces of the world both nationally and internationally. In many instances as in the newly independent States the colonialists have cunningly contrived to create internal problems through political and economic intrigues and bribery and subversion in order to undermine the independence of these States and retain political and economic control over them.
One of the greatest tragedies of our time has been the discord in the Socialist camp which has weakened the main shield of the peoples against imperialism. This division has reflected itself in all international anti-imperialist organisations. Those of the youth, students, women, trade unions and even in organisations like the Afro-Asian People`s Solidarity Organisation.
The potency and effectiveness of these bodies have been unfortunately reduced at a critical time. So much precious time is spent by certain sections in reckless and disruptive activities whereas the positive contribution by these anti-imperialist organisations is invaluable. This discord has had the effect of dividing newly independent States, Socialist countries and national liberation and democratic movements.
The knowledge of the discord and disagreement which exist among the anti-imperialist forces has spurred the imperialists to strike left and right in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Some of the strength of the anti-imperialist movement is being tragically wasted on internal disputes whilst the enemy continues to strike with ever growing audacity. Solidarity, that powerful weapon, is being corroded. In some instances corrupt methods have been resorted to in order to win support. Those organisations which maintain their independence and which refuse to yield to pressure become objects of vilification and abuse. On the other hand, charlatans and political careerists and renegades of all kinds whose reputation cannot stand examination by daylight are being frantically recruited and exalted as revolutionaries and true representatives of the people despite the fact that the contrary is well known. There have been attempts to establish organisations which were merely factions or cliques. This is a serious situation. So long as it exists, so long will the imperialists bolster their courage and engage in bolder and more aggressive acts against the people.
Imperialist military intervention and aggression in Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, and the Congo, the numerous counterrevolutionary coups and all forms of subversion to restore the domination of the colonialists have succeeded particularly because of the discord which exists in the anti-imperialist forces. The forums of the anti-imperialist organisations are not platforms for ideological and interstate disputes but are an anvil where all anti-imperialists should try to forge their common weapon to fight imperialism. Difficulties there might well be between members of the anti-imperialist movement but these must never be made to appear more important than the historic and common duty of destroying the monster of colonialism in all its forms.
The anti-imperialist forces have scored numerous victories and their potential in unity and concerted action is boundless. It is therefore the solemn duty of all genuine anti-imperialists to strengthen the unity of this might force, and to make it as invincible as it should be. Those who continue to sow discord and confusion are consciously and unconsciously trying to divert the movement from its objectives and are assisting the imperialists and undermining the revolutionary struggle.
For reasons which we will show later the African National Congress is deeply interested in the unity of anti-imperialist movement. The success of the struggle in South Africa, its duration and cost in human life depends to a great extent upon the solidarity, strength and unity of the anti-imperialist forces of the world.
As we have stated before imperialism and fascism are using South Africa as their base and springboard for launching a counter-revolutionary offensive in Africa. The aggressive nature of these forces constitutes a direct threat to peace and independence not only in Africa but also in the rest of the world.
In this situation, and as an internationalist duty, it is crucial that all progressive forces the world over should realise that they constitute one of the main motive forces in wiping out imperialism and fascism in South Africa. That realisation must be translated into action in support of the national liberation movement in South Africa as led by the ANC.
The duty of the anti-imperialist forces that stand against Vorster fascism is no less today than the duty that faced the progressive forces against Hitler Nazism during the Second World War.
From the progressive point of view there must be a fundamental change of outlook and attitude towards the struggle against fascism in South Africa.
The anti-imperialist movement has tremendous potential. The urgent and immediate need is to cement unity. There is need to work out and implement the global strategy to counter the imperialists, to examine the activities of the numerous components, to ensure greater coordination and an avoidance of duplication. Above all, aggressive imperialist counterattack requires a bolder assault by the anti-imperialist forces along every front.
The African revolution has had a tremendous impact on the world. It has swept aside the hollow myth of white rule based on alleged superiority of the white over the black. In the world forums the rapid appearance of African States has tilted the balance against the former imperialist States.
In the independent States themselves massive funds have been allocated for the first time to secure proper education and health facilities for the people. Africanisation of the civil services is proceeding apace. The beginnings of economic development have been laid. the power of the African States is being steadily built up in all spheres of human endeavour. Yet it should be remembered that the States of Africa start their independent existence with a terrible legacy of colonial rule which deliberately kept the people ignorant, disease-ridden and poor. Furthermore the imperialists never intended to abandon their interests. Therefore through their agents they continue to do everything to place difficulties in the way of African unity and advancement.
The Organisation of African Unity is one of the most hopeful symbols of African aspirations and determination to carve a proper place for our continent in the world. As far as we of the African National Congress are concerned the achievements of the Organisation both in terms of its contribution to the solution of interstate problems and its support of the anti-imperialist struggle have been great.
This is not to say that there are no weaknesses in the OAU or in some of the States composing this great organisation. But on the whole it can be said that our struggle in common with that of many other countries has received solid support from the OAU. It would perhaps be regarded as invidious to single out the States that have given us help and would be tedious to list them all. Yet we cannot but place on record our appreciation of Zambia, Tanzania, UAR and Algeria who have been our mainstay through many a difficulty.
It is not realistic for us to expect that every country in Africa must do the same or give equally to the struggle against the bastion of reaction in southern Africa. The States of white supremacy are strong and are backed by powerful international forces. But in the long run the anti-imperialist and anti-racist forces in Africa will rally to our support.
The situation in southern Africa is a menace to African security and an imminent and serious threat to world peace. This has sometimes been expressed but it has perhaps never been so vital as now, to make the point again and again and to examine its full implications and the consequences which flow from it. The white minority and fascist regimes in southern Africa have maintained through military force and police terrorism systems which have been condemned the world over as a crime against humanity. Nevertheless in flagrant violation of world condemnation, these racialist regimes have intensified their ruthless oppression and exploitation of the people.
There are many reasons why these white regimes have been able to sustain and maintain systems which are against the general trend of the African revolution and world development.
One of them is that Smith, Vorster and Caetano have systematically built and consolidated what is now known to be the Unholy Alliance. It is an alliance based on common ideology - the maintenance of colonialism, racism and fascism. It has a common economic objective - the exploitation of the peoples of southern Africa and their resources. It also has a common political and military objective - to stem the spread of the African revolution and to subvert it where it has already been successful. The South African forces are conducting military action jointly with the Portuguese against MPLA in Angola. Last year it was established that South African helicopters were operating against MPLA militants in their eastern front. For purposes of working out joint strategy the Portuguese Commander-in-Chief and the South African Commandant-General meet at least once a month. Military support and contingents of South African troops in Mozambique have been the subject of frequent reports. The question of South African troops in Zimbabwe is notorious enough.
South Africa is the main pillar of this alliance; with its tremendous economic resources, its military might which is out of all proportion for its needs, it stands out as the senior partner and gives technical, financial and military aid to the Smith regime, Caetano in Mozambique, and Angola. Smith openly declared to the Congress of his party last year that but for the assurance of South African support, he would not have declared UDI.
The South African regime has acquired all the aggressive features of an imperialist State. It is only necessary to mention the brazen annexation of South West Africa against decisions of the United Nations: the constant threats of military attacks on Zambia and Tanzania; the acts of subversion, sabotage and spying carried on in African States; the export of mercenaries - these are all signs of her expansionist policy. Behind this Unholy Alliance is an even more dangerous alliance of the imperialists - the United States, Britain, France, West Germany, Japan, etc. They have deliberately tried to build southern Africa and South Africa in particular, into a fortress of racialism and colonialism, the last outpost of imperialism in Africa and a ready springboard to endanger the sovereignty of African States and threaten world peace. South Africa is the treasure house of the imperialists, but more than that it is one of their most important strategic military bases and ally in their global strategy directed against the forces of national liberation, democracy and peace.
The enormous military might of South Africa has been built with the direct assistance of the imperialist powers. They supplied the technical know-how, the materials and the manpower to accelerate the growth of that monstrous arsenal in South Africa. This was part of a well considered strategy.
The Minister of Defence of the white minority regime in South Africa has stated openly that the role of South Africa in Africa is the same as the role of the United States in the world and that was to fight what he called communism. The commitment and involvement of South Africa in the global strategy of the imperialists is no new phenomenon. In the historic patriotic war of the People`s Republic of Korea, South Africa did not hesitate to send its military personnel there to fight against the people of Korea. Only recently in the Middle East war, so-called South African volunteers were mobilised to render aid to Israel. Financial support was also given. The South African government boasts that it is the most "stable" ally of the imperialist powers and offers them ready passage via the Cape to prosecute their nefarious plots and war in South East Asia.
Britain is involved in one of the most despicable acts of treachery against the African people of Zimbabwe. The British Labour government has permitted and encouraged the white minority to seize and monopolise political power despite British assurances that there will be no independence before African majority rule (NIBMAR). Smith has now introduced a fascist constitution which is intended to relegate the majority to the dust bin. Despite worldwide popular demand and in spite of the fact that Wilson himself declared UDI an act of rebellion by Smith and his racialist henchmen, the British Government has consistently refused to use force to restore order in Rhodesia. Britain has deliberately resorted to all forms of ineffectual methods, numerous and worthless talks, cunningly manipulated sanctions which allow the Smith regime to get its wants through the back door, South Africa.
Both the South African regime and Britain are vitally interested in retaining Rhodesia as a buffer State forming part of a reactionary iron belt barrier with South West Africa in the west, Angola in the northwest and Mozambique on the east to protect the imperialist treasure house, South Africa, from any outside attack. When the guerrilla activities started in Zimbabwe under the leadership of the ZAPU/ANC alliance, South Africa without hesitation sent thousands of troops and a vast quantity of military equipment to the rescue of Smith`s weaker forces. The basic purpose was to protect the buffer from collapsing and to keep guerrilla onslaught as far as possible from the borders of South Africa. Everything is being done to make sure that South Africa itself did not become a theatre of war. The imperialists are aware of the hatred of the people of South Africa towards imperialism and guerrilla war there might spell the end sooner than bargained for. If Rhodesia fell to the liberatory forces the people of South Africa would have a friendly border on their side and this would qualitatively change the situation in favour of the liberation movement in South Africa.
In pouring their forces into Rhodesia the Vorster regime was trying to solve one problem but it has in fact created numerous others. One of them was what is and will be for a long time the bane of South African military strategists. This is the fact that by undertaking the defence of southern Africa the fascist regime is giving its military force an impossible task; drawing them out of their base; creating a long line of defence over a wide area. But on the other hand to fail to do this will be to allow the liberation forces in the neighbouring countries to achieve victory. The heavy casualties inflicted by our forces came as a shock and had an adverse effect both on the morale of the so-called "superior" white forces and on the white population in South Africa. This is part of the reason why Vorster is urging a settlement between Britain and Rhodesia at all costs. The burden of defending Rhodesia is creating problems and difficulties for the South African regime.
For us the main strategic question is to see that the guerrilla struggle spreads to South Africa itself. When that happens the dispersal of the enemy will in strategic terms be complete. This is not to say that the enemy will in fact be tactically dispersed. This depends on how widespread and effective guerrilla war is throughout southern Africa. But clearly we need to disperse the forces of white supremacy throughout the region both in territorial terms and in numbers of engagements. For this we need to launch the struggle at home.
Intensification of the struggle in Zimbabwe is an important part of our aim.
The alliance of ZAPU/ANC has not sprung out of the blue. It is founded on a belief in a united struggle; a belief shared by all the people of Africa and expressed by decades of close cooperation between both the leaders and rank-and-file of the political movement in South Africa and Zimbabwe. In fact when the ANC was formed in 1912 it was founded as the national movement for South Africa, the then protectorates, and Rhodesia. All these countries were under British domination.
It was only in 1924 that a separate ANC of Rhodesia was formed. But coordination continued and later in the fifties was strengthened as the policies in Rhodesia and South Africa became virtually identical. The same repressive laws were passed in the parliaments of both countries. When the ANC of Rhodesia was banned, the ANC of (South Africa) was also banned in Rhodesia. In fact the ANC (SA) was banned in Rhodesia before it was banned in South Africa itself. Many of the laws in Zimbabwe are carbon copies of laws passed in South Africa. The legal system is the same. It is vital to concentrate on the main essence of the question relating to the ZAPU/ANC alliance. A unique form of alliance has been formed between two liberation movements for the purpose of fighting imperialism, racism and oppression. The purpose is to fight effectively in unity. The fact that our enemies are acting in a united and coordinated fashion only lends point to the ZAPU/ANC alliance. It is true that some legitimate questions can be asked as to the scale, the scope of the alliance, and whether it could lead to a lack of attention to that which is specific and different in the situations of the two countries. We consider that these questions have received proper attention by the leadership of ZAPU and the ANC in the course of protracted analysis. There can be absolutely no doubt that honest revolutionaries will seek to build still greater unity and effectiveness among the people of Zimbabwe and South Africa. The alliance has come to stay.
The situation in southern Africa demonstrates: