ANC 1979

The Green Book

Report of the Politico-Military Strategy Commission to the ANC National Executive Committee, August 1979

Transcribed: for by Dr. Pallo Jordan.

PART ONE — Introduction

1. A joint meeting of the full NEC [National Executive Committee] and RC [Revolutionary Council] was held in Luanda between 27th December 1978, and 1st January 1979, to hear a report from the NEC delegation which visited the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in October 1978. After discussing the report of the delegation, the meeting proceeded to consider its relevance for our own struggle and concluded that “the Vietnam experience reveals certain shortcomings on our part and draws attention to areas of crucial importance which we have tended to neglect.”

2. The meeting then discussed and adopted a statement containing a summary of its views, which is annexed, marked “A.” [Annexure A, not included here, is “Statement of a Joint Meeting of the NEC and the RC"]

3. Thereafter the meeting elected a Commission of 6 comrades to be headed by the President and including Thabo Mkeki, Joe Slovo, Moses Mabhida, Joe Gqabi and Joe Modise.

The Commission was instructed to begin its work immediately and to make recommendations to the NEC on the items contained in Paragraph 5 of Annexure “A.” [See Chapter 10]

At a subsequent meeting of the NEC immediately after the joint meeting, it was resolved that the Commission, to be known as the Politico-Military Strategy Commission, should complete its work in time for the projected meeting of the NEC in February 1979.

4. Immediately after the joint meeting, the Commission proceeded to carry out its mandate. Three sessions were held in Luanda for the purpose of mapping out a programme of work. Thereafter, the Commission adjourned and completed its task in Maputo, where 15 sessions were held between February 1-20 1979. A final session was then arranged for Lusaka for 9 March to finalise the Report.

5. In order to facilitate its work, the Commission immediately took the following steps:

6. Comrade Mac Maharaj was invited to attend a number of sessions of the Commission in Maputo and participated fully in our discussions on the Bantustans and the institutions being imposed on the Indian and Coloured people.

7. The Commission assumed that items 5(k) and (l) of Annexure “A” dealing with the question of membership of the ANC and the capacity of the NEC to discharge its responsibilities was not within the scope of its terms of reference, and should be handled directly by the NEC.

8. The Commission’s discussion on certain items and its recommendations will appear separately under the main subject sections which now follow. Certain of the documents which were received by the Commission and which are not annexed to this report will be made available to the NEC when the Commission’s report is discussed.

9. Finally, it should be emphasised that the paucity of information on a number of important questions stood in the way of the Commission being able to develop its proposals more fully. This is, in itself, a reflection of the movement’s poor style of work in many important areas. We therefore regard our recommendations as merely providing the launching-pad from which the whole spectrum of mass mobilisation and organisation can be approached with a new urgency and vigour.

PART TWO — Our Strategic Line

The Commission started its main deliberations by considering the first four terms of reference [among the 12 listed by the joint meeting of the ANC/RC] which required us to make recommendations on the:

The Document is an attempt to set out in succinct and concentrated form a bald statement of our main strategic line. We did this in the knowledge that the broad approach to our revolutionary strategy and tactics is reflected in many of our basic documents such as the Freedom Charter, Strategy and Tactics, etc. In addition there are numerous documents, memoranda and writings which have developed our basic ideas in relation to the changing situation. Some of these (e.g. the Memorandum submitted during 1978 to FRELIMO) were referred to in our discussion.

The Document we are submitting does not therefore claim to be a new departure in all respects from previous analytical perspectives. On certain questions it contains a re-statement of basic propositions. In regard to others, it attempts to sharpen, clarify, or emphasise some basic propositions. But in some important areas, the Document attempts to incorporate the new thinking which emerged at the Luanda meeting, in particular on the vital question of mass political mobilisation and the relationship between the political and military struggle.

We deliberately attempted to present the basic propositions contained in the Document in concentrated form, avoiding argumentation, and without including references to past errors. As was the case at the Luanda meeting, the Commission was, however, conscious of the fact that our revolutionary practice has, in the recent past, not always conformed to the strategic approaches contained in some of our basic documents, and has ignored key experiences of earlier phases of struggle. This is so particularly in the vital areas of our approach to mass mobilisation, the character of our armed struggle, and the way we see it taking root and growing. If there has been such departures or uncertainties in our practice, this implies that in some important areas our line has not been commonly understood and interpreted at all levels of our movement and that it perhaps needs sharpening in order to eliminate vague and ambiguous formulations. Even at the level of the Commission, different interpretations emerged and we found it necessary to debate some very fundamental propositions (referred to below) which go to the root of our strategic line.

We also noted that very often a basic issue is debated at length and leads to what appears to be a consensus, only to find later that even the participants express diametrically opposing views on its true meaning. We therefore considered that, as a starting point for carrying out the Luanda directive, it would be necessary to place before the NEC a document containing a definition of, and an answer to, the main questions facing our revolution. Such a document would not only be a useful tool for consolidating previous thinking and hammering out a united consensus at top levels, but could also become the guidelines for further discussion, elaboration and education throughout our movement, bearing in mind item 6 of the Luanda decision [by the joint meeting of the ANC and the RC] that: “all discussions around these proposals should continue beyond the limits of the NEC and the RC, ideally to encompass the entire membership, and to culminate in an authoritative and representative conference convened to review and formulate policies.”

We draw attention to some of the main issues which came up for debate and discussion in the Commission:

1. In the original draft considered by the Commission an attempt was made to set out a minimum programme of aims which would be designed to attract the broadest possible spectrum of organisations, groups and individuals who are, or can be, engaged in the struggle against the regime. After debate, the Commission felt that it would be premature to attempt such a definition.

We were influenced by the argument that the process of creating a single broad platform of common aims would be the culmination rather than the starting point of united action at different levels of the mass struggle. Such a minimum programme would also be more appropriate at the time when it becomes possible and necessary to create a structured nationwide liberation front.

As indicated in paragraph 9 of the Document, the more precise content and shape will only emerge in the course of the actual unfolding of our struggle. At this stage the vital tasks of mass mobilisation demand that we work for the maximum unity in action between organisations, groups and individuals at the various levels of confrontation with the regime. For this purpose we considered it far more urgent that a programme of action should be elaborated round which mass activity can be generated at all levels of our society. We did not ourselves attempt to elaborate such a programme of action because this would have to be proceeded by a more detailed study of national, regional and local issues and organisations than was allowed by the time at the disposal of the Commission. We therefore recommend further that one of the priority tasks to be undertaken by the control organ (referred to in Part Three) is to work out such a programme of action for consideration by the NEC.

2. We debated the more long-term aims of our national democratic revolution, and the extent to which the ANC, as a national movement, should tie itself to the ideology of Marxism-Leninism and publicly commit itself to the socialist option. The issue was posed as follows:

In the light of the need to attract the broadest range of social forces amongst the oppressed to the national democratic liberation, a direct or indirect commitment at this stage to a continuing revolution which would lead to a socialist order may unduly narrow this line-up of social forces. It was also argued that the ANC is not a party, and its direct or open commitment to socialist ideology may undermine its basic character as a broad national movement.

It should be emphasised that no member of the Commission had any doubts about the ultimate need to continue our revolution towards a socialist order; the issue was posed only in relation to the tactical considerations of the present stage of our struggle.

The Commission finally resolved its thinking on the question in the formulations contained in Paragraph 1 of the Document read with Paragraphs 4 and 5. We all agreed that the way in which we publicly expand on the contents of these paragraphs requires a degree of tactical caution. At the same time it is necessary:

3. Another issue which gave rise to considerable debate relates to the basic perspectives of the armed struggle itself. The following question was posed: Do we see the seizure of power as the result of a general all-round nation-wide insurrection which a period of armed struggle will have helped to stimulate; or are we embarked on a protracted people’s war in which partial and general uprisings will play a vital role? The Commission opted for the latter approach (see Paragraph 8 of the Document), and this choice has an important bearing on strategic planning. This approach is broadly consistent with the thinking of the movement up to now as expressed in the bulk of our basic documents (see Strategy and Tactics), with an added emphasis on the possible role of partial and general uprisings. Therefore, without excluding the possibility that conditions may emerge in the future in which a successful general insurrection becomes a realistic slogan, this cannot be an exclusive perspective in relation to conditions as we know them today.

4. We draw attention to the fact that in the Document there is no specific reference to the peasantry. We have restricted ourselves to the expression “landless mass in the countryside” to describe the rural stratum. We concluded that not enough research and analysis have so far been undertaken to enable us to characterise both the size and social significance of what could classically be regarded as the peasant class and the process of differentiation within it. We consider it of vital importance that such a study should be undertaken. It should also cover those who, as migrant workers, live and work both in the industrial and the rural sectors, and the extent to which these workers continue to rely in part for their survival on “subsistence” farming undertaken by their immediate and extended families. Such a study would better equip us to assess not only the nature of the existing class relations in the countryside and the full extent of the land hunger, but also to evolve a more detailed and specific programme for the mobilisation of the masses in the countryside.

5. Although the Bantustans are referred to in the Document, because of the importance and immediacy of the problem, we considered it necessary to incorporate our fuller policy recommendations in a separate document which will be referred to later in this Report. This applies also to the other government-created institutions which affect the Coloured and Indian people. But it may be said in passing that in this area too, the need for a collective and common understanding of our strategy and tactics is underlined by a number of differing approaches which emerged in the initial stages of the discussion in the Commission.

6. We are of the view that our fundamental strategic objectives must be thoroughly understood not only at all levels of our movement, but that we should also do more than in the past to convey their content amongst the people in a form which will be understood. We therefore regard our proposed Document as primarily serving the purpose of defining the issues more sharply for ourselves as a movement. The elaboration of the main contents for mass circulation and education will require additional popular elaboration and presentation.

7. We attach marked Annexure “C” the information received from the London Research Unit on internal mass organisations.

PART THREE — Structure

The mandate we were asked to carry out in terms of Paragraph 5(e) of the Commission terms of reference was to make recommendations for the “creation of a Central Organ to plan, coordinate and direct all activities inside the country.”

1. The Luanda meeting concluded that there does not exist at any level of our movement a single working centralised structure under the NEC which keeps internal political developments under constant review and which has the capacity to plan, coordinate and implement all political and military activities inside the country, including the effective linking and supervision of all subordinate organs engaged in different aspects of internal work. The Commission considered it necessary, in the first place, to examine the weaknesses and limitations of the existing structures. It thus devoted some considerable time to this preliminary question.

2. The leading organ of every revolutionary organisation can, in practice, only implement its tasks through subordinate working organs specifically created for this purpose. Control of the subordinate working organ can only be assured if the leading organ exercises collective control over the subordinate organ by regularly reviewing its mandate, receiving and discussing full reports and providing it with guidelines for activities between meetings of the leading body.

3. In our discussions we noted that the NEC, as a body, has not in fact exercised this type of control over its subordinate organs. We did not, however, consider that it was within our mandate to make specific recommendations about the NEC itself. But we did consider it relevant to draw attention to this question in a general way because whatever working organs are created to plan and implement our internal tasks, their political control will only be assured if the NEC itself has an effective collective life.

4. We then proceeded to examine the other organs which have been delegated some kind of jurisdiction over internal work. In brief, the following points emerged in this part of our discussion:

5. Having analysed the weaknesses of the existing structures, we proceeded to discuss the principles which should govern the creation of new ones. In summary, the following points emerged:


PART FOUR — The Bantustans and other government-imposed institutions

1. The Commission was directed to make recommendations on:

2. In the case of all these institutions the Commission proceeded from the premise that our movement is unanimous about the need to do everything in our power to destroy the regime’s attempts to impose them on the people. We do not believe that any of these institutions provide the slightest basis for a democratic advance. On the contrary, they are clearly designed to intensify discrimination and the exploitation of the Black mass, to reverse the growth of African national awareness, to divide the black communities and to win black collaboration for the perpetuation and intensification of racial domination.

3. Before coming to a detailed consideration of our strategy and tactics, the Commission found it necessary to define with greater clarity the general factors which should influence our tactics in the struggle to destroy the regime’s institutions. We concluded that, from a tactical point of view, there is no single route which will mechanically lead us towards this result. In this connection we refer (in Paragraphs 4 to 6 below) to some of the points which emerged in our discussion.

4. Until we have achieved people’s power, these undemocratic institutions (or variations of them) will continue to be imposed by the regime on the people. Therefore, when we talk about fighting these institutions we mean:

5. Practice has already shown that there is no single route towards achieving our aims in this important area. The forms of opposition to the different institutions have varied and these forms have each, in their own way, contributed to placing obstacles in the way of the regime’s plans. For example:

6. We also felt that in some cases (e.g. amongst the Coloured people), those who participate in elections in support of candidates who are committed to the destruction of the institutions are often motivated by the same strength of feeling against the institution as those who opt for a complete boycott. It is our duty to ensure a growing unity between both sections, rather than to engage in the Unity Movement’s tactics which mechanically dismiss all those who participate, in any shape or form, as “sell-outs.” The more important level of struggle against the institution lies in the field of mass action not only on election day but, more so, in the long years between. We must ensure that tactical differences between groups of people who agree on the main question of destroying the institution should not lead to conflict and division between them.

7. After the above discussion the Commission debated and adopted the document dealing with our general tactics in relation to the government-imposed institutions, which is attached marked Annexure “F.”

8. The Commission then proceeded to deal separately and in greater detail with our tactics in relation to the different institutions imposed on the African, Coloured and Indian people.

9. The Bantustans. After lengthy discussion which took into account the SACP documents and the minutes of the NEC discussion on the Bantustans, we adopted the document attached and marked Annexure “G” for consideration by the NEC. It should be added that our future attempts to implement a more balanced policy in this area should not ignore the extremely strong feelings, especially amongst large sections of the urban youth that action short of complete boycott amounts to outright collaboration with the enemy, whatever the circumstances. It is nevertheless our duty to provide a correct lead and not to respond mechanically to popular feeling (especially in the case of detailed tactics) which is not always rooted in scientific revolutionary analysis. We must rather concentrate on harnessing the healthy strength of feeling against Bantustans which motivate the radical youth, and in a careful non-hostile debate make them understand and accept our approach which, we believe, will more effectively achieve the common aim of undermining, obstructing and ultimately destroying the Bantustans.

We also considered certain figures (attached and marked Annexure “H”) in relation to Bantustan elections together with comments which draw the inference that the statistics show that the people are in fact boycotting. We discussed these figures, especially in relation to the Transkei. We concluded that more information is needed before such sweeping inferences could be drawn. The reason for this will, if necessary, be elaborated verbally at the NEC meeting.

10. The SAIC and The Three-Tier Parliament. We adopted the document attached and marked Annexure “I” for consideration by the NEC. Our conclusions are based mainly on the proposals forwarded by the group convened by comrade Yusuf Dadoo. We stress the need to urgently intensify the campaign for the complete rejection of the three-tier parliament, to link this campaign with the struggles against the Bantustans and to bring about unity in action against all the institutions between the African, Coloured and Indian people.

11. The CRC and the mobilisation of the Coloured Community. We were helped in our discussion by the document prepared by comrade Reg September, which we attach marked Annexure “J.” At the end of our discussions we found ourselves in complete agreement with the main ... [two missing pages discuss trade unions].

7. The above task is all the more urgent in the light of clear indications that the ruling class is no longer able to evade some form of recognition of black trade unions. It is, however, attempting, with all the resources at its disposal, to ensure that the processes will be a ‘guided’ one and will go no further than the erection of trade unions concerned solely with petty reforms and isolated from the national liberation struggle. Time is indeed very short for our movement to ensure the emergence of a trade union movement which will have the capacity to act in the interests of our revolution.


1. Item 5(f) of Annexure “A” states: “All our organisations, including the women and youth sections, should direct their activities towards the advancement of the struggle at home.”

2. The Commission forwarded a request to the youth and women sections to urgently consider the Luanda document and to make proposals in relation to their own spheres of work.

3. Both sections provided the Commission with memoranda which are attached marked “M” and “N” respectively.

4. We recommend that the central organ should, at an early stage, initiate discussions with the women and youth sections in order to work out in greater detail the most effective ways of mobilising and organising the women and youth at home and building powerful mass movements amongst them.

Annexure “B” — Summarized Themes on Our Strategic Line

1. What is the main content and aim of the present phase of our revolution?

2. Who is the principal enemy?

3. Who are the enemy’s principal allies?

4. Which is the principal social force of our revolution?

5. Who are the main allies of the working people?

6. Who are the main external allies of our struggle?

7. What are the key elements of the enemy’s political strategy?

The key elements of the enemy’s political strategy to maintain and perpetuate its system of economic and social domination are as follows:

8. What is our principal immediate strategic line of struggle?

The leadership core of our struggle is the ANC and its revolutionary allies. It is this core which must provide guidance to the whole revolutionary process. To carry out this task:

9. What is the character and shape of our broad front of struggle?

10. What is our approach to the relationship between the political and military struggle?

11. What is the main emphasis at the moment?

12. What is the role of armed activity at this stage?

Organised armed activity continues to be one of the vital elements in helping to prepare the ground for political activity and organisation leading to the creation of a network of political revolutionary bases which will become the foundation of our People’s War. More particularly, the purpose of such organised armed activity at the present stage is: -

13. How do we answer the enemy’s counter-insurgency tactics?

In general, the answer to the enemy’s counter-insurgency tactics lies in the field of all-round political mobilisation and organisation of the masses. More particularly:

Annexure"D” — Memorandum to the Politico-Military and Strategy Commission [from Lesotho]

2. In all the areas we have tackled, we have made it a point to begin by establishing an underground presence of the ANC. We have thus made it compulsory for all MK members to start with political organisation before carrying out any military tasks.

3. We have adopted the above-mentioned methods out of a realisation that political work provides the following advantages for our cadres:

4. In order to make our local MK cadres suitable for this type of work we have embarked on regular political classes making each and everyone of them self-sufficient in the task of political mobilisation.

5. Internally we carve the areas into sectors appointing comrades to be in charge of these sectors. The comrades in charge are responsible and accountable individually to the collective here. There is no link and communication between the comrades in charge of the different sectors. The sector leader is in charge of the various units in the sector but meets the leaders of each unit separately. Some of the sector leaders are based in our area but undertake visits into their sectors for discussions and exchange of views and implementations of decisions. Others are based in the Transkei and come now and again to discuss with the collective. At other times the collective delegates some of its members to get inside to consult and satisfy themselves that the work is being carried out.

6. The collective has established political and military training facilities for short training for comrades sent by the different sectors. The training course lays special emphasis on trade unionism, underground political organisation, conspiracy and security.

7. The collective has also begun to set up intelligence groups inside the country and locally to collect information on various aspects of our work and advise the movement on dangers facing it, liquidation of those posing a threat to our survival. These intelligence units function independently of the internal units and are responsible to the collective.

8. We have also established a production and propaganda unit in our area. It produces a sheet as regular as resources allow. The propaganda is then fed into our internal machinery for distribution. We decided that the contents should be in our own languages to ensure that our messages are understood by the working people and peasants. We also encourage the units to prepare their own material and send them to us for production until such time that they are in a position to produce these themselves. The advantage is that this enables them to tackle the burning issues themselves.


We believe that serious efforts should be made to involve as many of our people as possible in our struggle. In order to realise this, our collective feels that we should explore the potential of existing legal and semi-legal organisations. It is of the view that our organisation as the vanguard of the National Liberation Revolution must seek a common denominator with legal and semi-legal organisations. This common denominator must among other things embrace an uncompromising opposition to racism and White domination as well as the upholding of the principle of the oneness of our country. Our collective has thus made discreet approaches to the Democratic Party in the Transkei. Useful talks have been held and important decisions taken. We are hopeful that we shall be in a position to make progress in this field.

Our collective has seriously discussed the need to contact the Labour Party to explore possibilities of establishing some links, especially with those elements recognising our leading role. These approaches are to be secret and underground. But we think serious efforts should be made to establish ANC cells among the Coloured people. The aim is to take politics and activity outside the Coloured Representative Council. We want to make the Labour Party a vehicle for mass political mobilisation among the people. At the same time we think that attempts should be made to strengthen the influence of SACTU among the Coloured workers, thus destroying or reducing the reactionary role of TUCSA.

Non-racial sporting bodies are playing a good role in fighting Apartheid. These bodies are beginning to tackle political issues as well, thus correctly arguing that “there can be no normal sport in an abnormal society.” Bodies like SARU [SA Rugby Union], SACOS [SA Council on Sport], the Soccer Foundation, etc. must be contacted to explore areas of co-operation as well as trying to involve them in the task of mass political work.