Chapter 5.

pages 128 - 154


Chapter 5: National Liberation Movements before and after Sharpeville.

    „The war of liberation of our people
    has been one single enormous battle
    of Dien Bien Phu.“
                                    Vo Nguyen Giap, Hanoi 1961

    The following phases can be distinguished in the process of growing political awareness and self organization among the Africans:

1. The formation of the first national movements,
2. The first attempt at forming a united front (popular front),
3. The development of a theory of guerrilla struggle and its practical

    In the onward march of revolutionary consciousness, Marxism has been playing a decisive role, as a method but also as a dogma, since 1919. The theories of Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung and Che Guevara have gained special significance for South Africa.
    The most important organizations of South Africa’s liberating movement are the ‘African National Congress’ (ANC) and the ‘Unity movement of South Africa’ (UMSA). The ‘Pan Africanist Congress’ (PAC) which broke away from the ANC in 1959 has since 1970 increasingly lost its progressive function.
This chapter will deal with the counter revolutionary influence of neo Stalinism on the ‘Congress’ movement via the South African Communist Party (SACP),  which tends to turn the ‘Congress’ into a tool of neo-colonialism. The importance of Maoist influences within the PAC will also be investigated.

    On the other hand theory and practice of the „Unity Movement“, which considers itself the vanguard of the revolutionary movement in South Africa, will be discussed.
    The theories treated here are not necessarily in agreement with our own analyses, which will be presented in the last chapter.

A. The ‘African National Congress’ (ANC).

    In the second chapter we have dealt with the development of ANC between 1912 and 1935. We shall here be concerned with the breaking away of the ANC from the ‘All African Convention’ (A.A.C.) in the early ‘Forties and its political practice thenceforward.


    Between 1940 and 1950, instead of leading an independent anti colonialist struggle, the ANC and its affiliated organizations, supported by the SACP and white liberals, pursued a moderate policy based on critical appraisals remaining within the frame of the capitalist system. A reformist course was adopted. It chiefly rested on the assumption that South Africa’s economic upswing after World War II would also facilitate the emancipation of the blacks and that the pressure exerted by various national and international pressure groups would advance their liberation. Both the programme and the policy of the ANC were therefore characterized by the principle of „hamba kahle“ („go slow“). The government was confronted with resolutions, petitions, and deputations; in extreme cases futile campaigns of non-violent resistance, anti pass demonstrations, bus boycotts, or isolated strikes were organized. They only led to an escalation of terror on the part of the government.
    Nobody bothered to analyse the reasons and structural conditions of colonial-fascist policy and its determinants. The result of such an analysis would have shown, that the forced industrialization of South Africa and its economic boom after World War II were sustained by the ruthless economic exploitation of Africans and the legal and political discrimination practised against them.
    Thus for lack of a solid theoretical foundation all the ANC could achieve through its militant campaigns organized in the cities between 1950 and 1960, at a time when a mere 28% of the black population were working in industry - mainly the processing industries- was a rapprochement with the liberal anti-Boer parties. During a conference in December 1953, a member of the ANC reported:

    "The executive has been invited for round table discussions
    by the South African Labour Party, the Liberal Party, and the
    Congress of Democrats. The working committee co-operates
    closely with the Congress of Democrats, whose programme is
    related to that of the ANC, even though it's identical." (1)

    In 1955 the ‘Congress Alliance’, also called ‘Congress of the People’, was founded. A ‘Freedom Charter’ outlining the policy of the ANC and defining its reformist attitude as described above, was drawn up.

1  „Minutes of the 1953 Conference of the ANC,“ Johannesburg, December 1953.


    In contrast to the federal structure of the ‘Unity Movement’ the ‘Alliance’ possessed a unitary organizational structure. It was formed by the merger of five organizations but thenceforth membership was to be on an individual basis. All activities of the various groups making up the alliance were guided and controlled by a central authority. What did this mean in practice?
After the SACP had been banned in 1950, its members joined the ‘Congress of Democrats’ (COD), which later became a constituent part of the ‘Congress Alliance’. Although the Communists in 1953 formed a ‘new’ CP, they did not relinquish their membership of the COD. The policy of the SACP was virtually made in the COD, while at the same time an ever increasing number of Communists found their way into the central executive of the ANC, the leading organization within the alliance. Thus, the SACP was able to exert a decisive influence of the ‘Congress Alliance’. The most important aspects of this development were the deepening rift between city and country, the financial and ideological dependence of the Congress Movement on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and the widening of the split among liberation movements in South Africa.

    During the ‘Rivonia Trial’ of 1963, at which some members of the ANC were accused of attempted subversion, the public prosecutor revealed a secret SACP document which affords an important insight into the policy of the party after 1960. Part of the document read thus,

    "The Congress Alliance was never meant to be a federation
    but a united front. ... For us (SACP) the united front con-
    sists not of formal organizational machinery .. but of
    people moving into action against the government."  (2)

    Furthermore it is stated that the organizational unity of all ethnic groups in South Africa can by no means be the objective of the ANC since „it would undermine the specifically national character of the ANC and thus reduce its influence on the black masses.“

2  The Growth of Political Consciousness in the South African Liberation Movements, Pamphlet, of the UMSA, Lusaka 1969, p.4.


    At the same time Indians, Malays and Coloureds would never be able to give the ANC its unstinted support. By then the ‘Congress Alliance’ had already fallen apart and the ANC was banned, while the racist regime was arming itself to the teeth. Between 1960 and 1964 its defence budget rose by about 300% and the expenditure for improved equipment and increased personnel in the police force by about 50%. (3) But none of this could make the Congress Movement budge from its policy of non-violence.

    As late as 1961 it was still possible for ANC members like Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and others to be acquitted in a trial because the public prosecutor could not prove that their „political strategy is the establishment of a democratic state by violent means“. (4)  In 1963 however, during the ‘Rivonia Trial’, Mandela explained how some individuals in the ANC came to the conclusion „that, violence in this country being inevitable, it would be unrealistic and wrong for the African political vanguard to go on preaching peace and non-violence since the government replies to peaceful demands with terror.“ (5) This realization of the necessity of counter violence, Mandela explains, was primarily brought about by the restlessness and impatience of the populace which spontaneously began to practice counter terror. Those  sympathetic with Mandela chose in the abstract among the various manifestations of violence: sabotage, guerrilla warfare, terrorism, and open revolution. The group around Mandela opted for sabotage because it would not cost any human lives and thus would not totally exclude the possibility of an eventual peace between the races. Like all operations undertaken by the ANC, sabotage was to intensify the pressure on the world opinion, compel foreign investors to withdraw, and „bring the government and its voters to their senses.“ (6) An underground organization under the name ‘Umkhonto We Siswe’ (Spear of the Nation) was formed. ‘Umkhonto’ comprised members of various political organizations and also others who had not previously been organized. Dual membership in both the ANC and the underground group was the exception rather than the rule, as Mandela reported in his defence speech.

3  United Nations Security Council, Report of the Special Committee on the Policies of Apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, p. 60 73, December 1964, p. 132.
4  The Growth of Political Consciousness ..., op.cit., p. 5.
5  Nelson Mandela, I Am Prepared to Die (London: A Christian Action Booklet, 1965), p.6.
6  ibid., p.8.


    The concrete relations between ‘Umkhonto We Siswe’ and ANC are hard to reconstruct. Mandela at any rate only conceded autonomy to ‘Umkhonto’ with regard to the choice and execution of acts of sabotage, while political control was retained by the ANC, which „remained a political mass organization of the Africans and carried out the same type of political activity as before 1961“ (7) without revising the principle of non-violence. The separation of political control on the one hand and practical sabotage activities on the other accepted by Mandela may have contributed to a considerable extent to the failure of ‘Umkhonto’ by jeopardizing its conspiratorial effectiveness and preventing any critical reflection on the abstract concept of sabotage informed as it is by liberal thought patterns.

    It should not be overlooked, however, that the SACP played a decisive role in the foundation of ‘Umkhonto We Siswe’. In the above mentioned secret SACP document, the function and position of the ANC are also critically assessed. The document states that the ANC would lose the support of the masses unless it propagated a new political line, viz. that of violence, and could convince the masses that it was able and willing to vanquish the armed stronghold of white South Africa.
    „The first step towards realizing this policy was the foundation of the ‘Umkhonto We Siswe’ with its concept of ‘controlled violence’ against carefully chosen objects that would be attached without endangering life and limb (...) but would (...) demonstrate the hatred against the System of apartheid (...) and sabotage the governing process.“  (8)
    A farm in Rivonia belonging to a member of the SACP who had gained experience in the ‘Palmach’ (9) became the operational centre of ‘Umkhonto’.
The next step was the training abroad of about 500 guerrilla fighters. They did not, however, return to South Africa but spent four years in a camp outside the country before engaging, side by side with guerrilla fighters of the ‘Zimbabwe African Peoples’ Union’ (ZAPU), in a battle with Smith’s and Vorster’s army south of the Zambezi (10) in early 1968. The operation was doomed to failure since it was strategically unwise and the guerrillas hardly even knew the language or the lay of the land.

7  ibid., p.6 sq. and 12.
8  Bram Fischer (SACP), What I Did Was Right (London; Mayibuye Publications, 1966), p.27 sq.
9  N. Mandela, op. cit., p.14.
10  CF. The African Communist, No.32, 1st Quarter 1968, p.4


    An important reason for the failure of ANC guerillas to infiltrate into South Africa is the fact that the movement’s organizational basis in the open country was extremely weak, while the destruction of the guerrillas in Zimbabwe - and alien country, as far as they were concerned - resulted from an inability to merge the fighting men and the local population into one, „which is one of the main secrets of success in this type of warfare“. (11) Even the thesis that the fight against the racist block in Southern Africa has to start at the periphery (i.e. in Zimbabwe and Namibia) cannot controvert this fact. This does not mean, of course, that the liberation struggle in Southern Africa should not be effectively co-ordinated.

    The formal separation of political leadership and guerrilla group as practised by the ANC and the SACP invites some criticism. Mandela clearly emphasizes the military aspect of the guerrilla as a „nucleus of trained s o l d i e r s.“ (12) He says literally „(...) No matter what comes, military training will be useful.“ (13)  In this way the guerrilla’s political activity among the populace (14) is necessarily relegated to the background and the freedom fighter himself becomes an object of politics. It is, however, specifically in South Africa, where liberation movements are at present passing through a phase of intense competition, that one of the main functions of a guerrilla movement would be to neutralize the effects of that competition, both among the population and among themselves so as to form a hard core of unified political and military power. Such an approach would not only enhance the effectiveness of the liberation struggle but also facilitate co-operation during the phase of reconstruction after the victory of the anti- colonial revolution.

    During the last few years the activities of the ANC have mostly been focussed on foreign countries. It has organized conferences and started propaganda campaigns in collaboration with the SACP, the ‘Christian Action’, and the international ‘Anti-Apartheid Movements’.

11  Mao Tse-Tung, Selected Works, Vol.II (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1954), p.119 sq. See also Mao Tse-Tung and Che Guevara, Guerilla Warfare (London Cassell, 1965).
12  Mandela, op.cit., p.12
13  ibid.
14  Cf. Amilcar Cabral, Theorie als Waffe, Berlin 1968, p. 52 sq.


    The hope for a United Nations intervention and for economic sanctions by the foreign capital still form one of the pillars of ANC policy at the beginning of the ‘Seventies. In fact the net influx of capital from abroad has decreased rapidly after 1960. In 1961 the decrease amounted to minus 61 million Rand. (15)  This was not, however, due to pressure from the ANC but to the unstable political situation after the massacres and uprisings of 1960. After its ‘stabilization’ through increased terror and intensified armaments, foreign capital started flowing again. In 1965 the net influx of capital attained plus 258 million Rand. (16)  As late as in 1969, Oliver Tambo, the president of the ANC, pointed out:

    „ It was at the instance of the ANC that sanctions as a mode
    of struggling against the South African regime came to be
    considered at the UN ... There are many countries who have
    honoured these resolutions and in doing so have helped us
    not only to weaken the South African regime, but also to
    maintain the type of international pressure, which is of
    considerable assistance to our cause.“ (17)

    The countries sponsoring the oftentimes radical anti-apartheid resolutions adopted by the UN are, however, those that are economically weak: the states of Asia, Latin America and Africa. The economically viable capitalist states on the other hand - South Africa’s solid trading partners - mostly abstain from voting. (18)  In May, 1969, the president of the French Chamber of Commerce, representing a country which is one of South Africa’s top importers, advocated a closer industrial and commercial co-operation between the two countries. (19)  In 1974 the Federal Republic of Germany graduated to the No.1 position among South Africa’s trading partners.

    The ANC has no concrete revolutionary alternative for building the country after a victory in the armed struggle such as that developed by Amilcar Cabral and translated into practice in Guinea-Bissau - and to a certain extent in Angola and Mozambique - while the armed struggle was still raging. (20)  Instead, it invokes a pseudo democratic freedom of decision of the masses to justify an abstract dividing line between the phase before and after victory:

15  Neue Züricher Zeitung (Zurich) 7th February, 1969
16  ibid.
17  Writing in the ANC organ Sechaba, Feba 1969.
18  Cf. Ronald Segal, ed.: Sanctions Against South Africa (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964.)
19  The Star (Johannesburg), 24th May, 1969.
20  A. Cabral, „Die Ökonomie der Befreiung“ in the SDS-VDS brochure 'Angola', Frankfurt. M. 1969, p. 43-51 Cf. also the programme of the Socialist opposition in Kenya, the ‘Kenya People’s Union’ (KPU) in Africa and the World (London) Vol.5, No.47, May 1969.


    "The bountiful wealth of our country will be shared by all
    citizens. Here again the detailed process by which these
    ultimate objectives will be achieved, must be left for
    decisions by the masses after victory. It is therefore
    not possible to spell out how the total and final end of
    apartheid ... will be attained." (21)

    Thus, in ANC theory the ‘revolution’ in South Africa has a merely negative character, since its only objective is the abolition of racial discrimination. The revolution is conceived as mere destruction, which excludes the possibility of subjective and objective elements of a qualitatively new material structure of society emerging from the revolutionary process. Hence this conception of revolution is not a Marxist one. Rosa Luxemburg has described the problem of the socialist revolution as „the identification of the popular masses with an objective transcending the existing order of the day-to-day struggle with the great world reform,“ (22) whereas the policy of the ANC is restricted to the immediate social need of abolishing the discrimination against the Africans.

    Up to this day (1976) the struggle of the ANC can therefore only be characterized as a struggle against apartheid but  not as a class struggle.

B. The Panafricanist Congress (PAC)

    At the meeting of the executive committee of the PAC held in Moshi (Tanzania) from 19th -22nd September, 1967, the organization of the South African revolution was the most important topic. A striking feature of the conference was the constant use of the Maoist vocabulary and the theory of revolution as developed by Mao Tse-Tung.
    In its ‘Revolutionary Message to the Nation’ (23)  the PAC argued that the objective conditions for the revolution in South Africa were propitious. The subjective conditions were likewise basically existent, although there was now a need for the revolutionary cadres to step in, in order to push things forward. „It is the business to make the revolution.“ (24)

21  Sechaba, February 1969.
22  Rosa Luxemburg, „Sozialreform oder Revolution?“, Politische Schriften I (Frankfurt a. M.: EVA, 1966, p.131.
23  In: Pan African Congress of Azania (S.A.), Report of the National Executive Meeting, Moshi, Tanzania, 19th - 22nd September, 1967. Issued by the Department of Publicity and Information, P.O. Box 2257, Lusaka, Zambia.
24  Ibid. p. 9


    In this context the experiences gained in China and Cuba were invoked:

    „The most outstanding modern expert on Peoples War,
    Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, summing up the experiences of
    25 years of civil war in China, has written, that it is
    people, not weapons, who are the decisive element in
    making history. ... Cuba, under the daring leadership of
    Fidel Castro, showed that bold and audacious actions
    by a very few revolutionary patriots, making an armed
    intervention at the right times were able to change
    adverse subjective conditions into favourable ones“. (25)

    Criticizing the pessimism of the liberals and reformists, the PAC came to the conclusion that the South African terrain is well suited for guerrilla warfare. A rudimentary knowledge of geography showed that the country had large areas of forests and immense hill ranges, the latter covering about 2,700 square miles. The colonial war and the Boer War had proved the outstanding suitability of the terrain in the Eastern Cape, in Natal, Transvaal and Botswana for guerrilla operations. Even in the platteland (lowlands) and in the cities, an experienced guerrilla movement could find ways and means of hiding and defending itself. The PAC mentioned the system of tunnels built by the Chinese in the war against the Japanese and, later on, by the Vietcong. It recalled to mind the fact, that the Vietcong had constructed a „maze“ of tunnels, 50 miles in length, only 20 miles from Saigon.

    The ‘Revolutionary Message to the Nation’ pointed out, however, in agreement with Mao and Che, that „ the most thorough-going amalgamation of the guerrilla forces with the leading masses“ (26) is the basis of the guerrilla struggle.

    "The people are thus the guerrillas' protective umbrella,
    his human reserve, his logistics committee, who supplies the
    essentials to sustain his life. In such circumstances the
    guerrilla is like a fish in the water." (27)

    A further important problem discussed by the PAC is the importance of industrialization for the armed revolution. The arguments of the PAC in relation to this problem can be summarized as follows:

25  Ibid.
26  Ibid. p. 11
27  Ibid.


    An advanced industrialization contains both positive and negative elements for the guerrillas. The strength of the colonial-fascist system (28) lies 1), in its relative invulnerability vis-á-vis all kinds of foreign sanctions, and 2), in the well developed infrastructure which allows the rapid movement of troops and generally optimizes communication, the PAC argues which are extremely vulnerable if sabotage is carried out simultaneously in many places. Another weak point of the regime, according to the PAC, is its dependence on a vast network of electric power lines, making sabotage of the electricity supply an effective means of the struggle which is susceptible of enfeebling the enemy both materially and psychologically. The PAC sums up its argumentation thus:

    „Let there be no mistake about the fact that no industrial
    economy can stand a prolonged civil war, without collapsing.
    The collapse of economy and orderly city government
    will mean the disintegration of the State organs of
    repression.“ (29)

    The functional coexistence of industrialized centres and backward agriculture in the colonial-fascist context also lent special significance to the question, where the armed struggle was to begin and to have its basics. The PAC reached the conclusion that the revolution would have to start in the country and be carried into the cities later. In the ‘Revolutionary Message to the Nation’, the first phase of the guerrilla struggle is described as follows:

    "Organized guerrilla bands under the instruction and guidance
    of their revolutionary party, the PAC, they (the rural
    Africans) will strike the first decisive blows against the
    unprotected, isolated settler farmers and force them to
    flee from their land in the absence of the protection of
    the State military machine. The abandoned farms will be
    taken over by the people." (30)

    While in theory and practice of the Chinese guerrilla the armed struggle moved from the country towards the cities so that they would eventually be captured from the outside, (31)  the PAC advocated the opening of a second front in the cities themselves:

28  On the concept of colonial fascism in South Africa cf. Bettina Decke, Industrialisierung und Herrschaft in Südafrika (Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1972), especially Chapter V.
29  PAC, Report of ... p.13
30  Ibid., p.14
31  Bettelheim, Marchisio, Charriere, Der Aufbau des Sozialismus in China (Munich: Tricont-Verlag, 1969), p.15. f.


    "... the masses in the cities must give them ( the rural
    guerrillas) that necessary support by opening up a second
    front in the cities, to PIN DOWN THE ENEMY IN THE CITIES
    AT THE OUTSET. Imagine the rapidity of the growth of the
    guerrillas in the countryside because the forces of
    reaction are unable to leave their city fortresses to
    destroy and kill." (32)

    The idea of an urban guerrilla is developed further:

    "When darkness descends on the Orlando complex, Langa,
    New Brighton, Cato Manor, Thabong, etc., the revolutionary
    forces will rule supreme. In these fortresses of black
    power the workers, students, intellectuals and professionals
    will be politicized and geared to the requirements of our
    revolution ... The cities will reverberate with bombs.
    Policemen will be ambushed and liquidated. The whites who
    terrorize and live by terror of the black man will reap the
    whirlwind of the peoples' discontent. There will be no
    apology for our hatred of the enemy.“ (33)

    Operations initiated by the workers will be an essential ingredient of the revolutionary struggle in the cities. Depending on their degree of awareness and organization these will include go-slows in the production process, strikes and acts of sabotage directed against selected industrial targets, all of which will build up to a general mass strike culminating in the occupation and take-over of all factories. (34)

    The PAC conceives of violence as a more comprehensive phenomenon than the ANC does; it serves to bring about the rehabilitation of African history as one of resistance, which over and over again has been drowned in blood and falsified by the auxiliary sciences of colonialism (35) so as to appear as the barbarous backlash of benighted semi-humans. Sartre points out the nexus between violence and humanity in the Revolution of the Colonized:

    "The rebel’s weapon is the proof of his humanity. For in
    the first day of the revolt you must kill: - to shoot down
    a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy
    an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time:
    there remain a dead man, and a free man; the survivor, for
    the first time, feels a national soil under his foot." (36)

    At the same time the hatred of the oppressed, for the PAC, becomes a constituent element of revolutionary violence in the sense depicted by Che Guevara:

    "A people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.
    We must wage ... a total war. It is necessary to prevent
    him from having a movement of peace, a quiet moment outside
    his barracks or even inside; we must attack him wherever
    he may move. Then his moral fibre will begin to decline." (37)

32  PAC, Report of ..., p.18.
33  Ibid., p.20
34  Ibid., p.21
35  Cf. M. Nkoana, „The Advent of Revolution“ in: The New African (London), No.50, 1968, p.35 sq.
36  F. Fanon, The Wretched ..., p.19.
37  Quoted from PAC, Report of ..., p.20


    Although the PAC regrets the death of innocents, it relativizes this category: in a period of extreme polarization between oppressors and oppressed, new categories arise - those of friend or enemy. (38) And every white man in South Africa who carries out the instructions of the racist regime - even if only as the overseer of a construction gang building a new road in the reserves - becomes an enemy. (39)  But the black collaborator also becomes an adversary:

    "This is a revolution that knows no colour. ... Black
    police, spies and informants had been eliminated at Paarl,
    Krugersdorp and other places, and so were Chiefs in the
    Transkei." (40)

    The proposition that the South African regime would smother the rebellion in the ghettos and Reserves with bombs is dismissed as unrealistic by the PAC; it argues that the South African capitalists could not afford to wipe out their living machines for the production of surplus value. Sartre is support of this thesis:

    "Poor settler ... he ought to kill those he plunders ... now
    this is not possible, because he must exploit them as well.
    Because he cannot carry massacre into genocide, and slavery
    to animal-like degradation, he loses control, the machines
    go into reverse, and the relentless logic leads him into
    decolonization." (41)

    Such a perspective is, however, too short-sighted in view of the fact that the revolution will not only be directed against national but also international capital, and the prospects for a neo-colonial solution of the conflict thus becomes evanescent. The extremely brutal repression of the freedom struggle in Angola, which had been increasingly penetrated by international capital since 1960 (42),  is a case in point, the final victory of the Angolan revolution notwithstanding.

    In contrast to the ANC the PAC at least developed a global revolutionary programme conceived as a minimum programme for a united revolutionary front „of all patriotic forces (...) among the pass bearing, expropriated and enslaved workers, peasants and dispossessed farm labourers, who are the most important social forces for a radical transformation of South Africa“. Its programme envisages:

38  CF. Mao Tse-Tung, Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society (Peking, 1967), p.1. sq.
39  M. Nkoana, „The Advent ...“, op. cit.
40  Ibid., p.37
41  F. Fanon, The Wretched ..., p.14.
42  Projektgruppe Afrika im INFI, Der revolutionäre Befreiungskrieg in Angola, Guinea (B) und Mozambique (Berlin, 1969), p. 51 sq.


1. The abolition of racial discrimination and the  total destruction of the
    white slave state. The establishment of a non-racial socialist democracy.
2. The immediate and unconditional change-over from private control of
    mines, big industry, banks, and real estate to public property.
3. The expulsion of all imperialist interests from Azania and the inauguration
    of a policy based on solidarity with anti-imperialist movements in the
    whole world. (43)

    Especially the Moshi document, which is not typical of the revolutionary reflections of the PAC, is strongly influenced by Marxism. In the course of the PAC’s political development such nebulous concepts as ‘African Nationalism’, ‘African personality’, ‘African Socialism’, and ‘Positive Neutrality’, have increasingly lost their significance. Viewed historically and in an overall African context those concepts originated during the phase of the struggle for decolonization in the African states, which today already possess their formal political independence. The theories of ‘African Nationalism’ and ‘African Socialism’ which burgeoned at that time and which were often seen as identical by their authors merely mean, that once the physical presence of the colonizer, the imperialist, comes to an end, the road is open for the development of the ‘African Personality’ which was conceived as the essence of all positive traditional African values, and that a synthesis of African primitive communism and modern capitalism, could be created. (44)

    These theories have been proved false by the prevailing practice in African states after decolonization. The PAC has clearly grasped this fact. While in its former documents (45) the accession to a formal political independence is celebrated as the beginning of African self-determination, (46) the problem of neo-colonialism, epitomized by the USA , moves into the foreground in its later analyses. As concrete examples of the neo-colonial claim to domination the PAC quotes the military coup d’etat in Ghana, the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the U.S. intervention in Korea and the Vietnam war. (47)

43  PAC, Report of ..., p.23.
44  Cf. S. Thion, Le Pouvoire pale ..., p.261.
45  The Basic Documents of the Pan Africanist Congress of South Africa, issued by the Secretary, Publicity and Information, PAC of S.A., P.O.Box 2257, Lusaka, Zambia March 1965.
46  Ibid., p.19 sq.
47  PAC, Report of ..., p.27.


    It is thus obvious that the analysis of the international situation, i.e. the observation of these relationships between former colonies and semi-colonies on the one hand and highly industrialized states on the other hand, that are generally referred to as 'neo-colonialism', has driven the PAC „into the arms of Marxism“, which offered a concrete alternative to this relationship of exploitation. This is the objective side of Marxist influence of the PAC. Its subjective side consists of the fact that many former members of the UMSA, dissatisfied with its inactivity, had joined the PAC. One of the executive members of the PAC, who played a leading role in formulating the ‘Revolutionary Message to the Nation’, was previously a member of the FIOSA and the NLF of South Africa.

    The PAC is, however, an extremely heterogeneous organization, politically speaking. The radicalism of its documents only conceals the tensions and antagonisms within. (48) There is no end to suppositions that the PAC cadres might have been infiltrated by CIA or BOSS agents. Hence the Moshi conference was dubbed ‘Reorganization Conference’ by the executive. It was no sheer coincidence that this conference was convened after some PAC members, who were labelled ‘agents of imperialism’, had tried to occupy the PAC office in Dar es Salaam. (49)
    The PAC, too, has attempted the infiltration of guerrillas into South Africa via the Caprivi Strip and Namibia. (50) These freedom fighters were, however, detected by the South African army shortly after crossing Namibia’s northern border and shot.

C. The ‘Unity Movement of South Africa’ (UMSA)

    The ‘Unity Movement’ (1943) is the only South African liberation movement to have consistently analysed the history and class relations of South Africa by means of the Marxist method and to have understood this history as being that of the growth of awareness among the oppressed. In the analyses of the UMSA the economic exploitation of African labour forms the basis of oppression and of the apartheid regime as a whole, so that the prime aim of the liberation struggle has to be the destruction of the capitalist-imperialist system of domination in order to hand over economic control to the people themselves by nationalizing the means of production.

48  CF. „Repudiation of the Call for United Nations Intervention in Azania“, in: PAC Report of ..., p.35-38.
49  P.K.Leballo, „Preamble to the Main Address of the Acting President“, in: PAC, Report of ..., p.6 sq.
50  Cf. Africa and the World, Vol.4, No.38, December 1967, p.8-12.


    According to UMSA, the class conflict in South Africa can only be definitely resolved by an armed struggle bearing the character of a socialist revolution.
The ‘United Movement’ considers the black inhabitants of the rural areas - the Bantustans - the true revolutionary potential of South Africa. Although the Bantustans constitute only 13% of the South African land surface, they are inhabited by about 50% of the black population. This majority of Africans consists of two groups:
1. The very poor peasants who work small plots of land, without,
    however, having any legal title to them.
2. The most harshly exploited section of the workers, viz.,
    the miners (1,000,000) and the rural workers (2.5 million),
    all of the migrants.

    The separation between landless peasants and migratory workers is, however, basically not an empirical but an analytical one, for the economics of apartheid are based on the fact, that the borderline between the two categories is fluid. This leads to an integration of the workers’ struggle with that of the peasants. Especially since 1945 a strong political awareness has evolved in the Reserves. It finds its practical application in fierce resistance to governmental authority. According to the UMSA analyses, (51) the liberation struggle, in consonance with South Africa’s objective conditions, developed in three qualitatively different phases:

1. The Struggle for National Liberation (1935 - 1945)

    The initial phase of the liberation struggle was that of the national struggle for equality of political rights between blacks and whites, i.e. for obtaining such democratic rights as had been monopolized until then by the white groups. This phase is characterized by the following distinctive features:

51  Cf.The Growth of Political Consciousness in the South African Liberation Movement, Pamphlet of the UMSA, Lusaka 1969.


1. The unification of the oppressed Africans in a popular movement
    comprising political and economic interest groups, cultural organizations
    and sports clubs (AAC).
2. The popular front had a federative structure. This, the ‘Unity Movement’
    argues, is a more effective means of reaching those to be politicized than
    a form of organization that, only allows of recruiting members on an
    individual basis.
3. The total absence of political rights as a common denominator of
    oppression, which in other respects affects the various African groups in
    different ways.
4. Independence of the liberation struggle from the ideas of the ruling class
    and its agents, the white liberals.
5. A struggle waged according to definite principles so as to root out any
    opportunism. The principles were enunciated in the 10 Point Programme,
    which is to guarantee the maximum unity of the oppressed based on a
    minimum of common claims.
6. The organization of concrete resistance, e.g. of a boycott against any
    institutions created for the purpose of pacifying the oppressed.
7. The boycott had the added function of politicizing those engaged in
    acts of resistance as well as those completely lacking in awareness, not
    only by debunking any institutions designed to perpetuate political and
    economic discrimination against Africans, but also by fighting the feeling
    of inferiority among the blacks.

2. The Transition to a Conscious Class Struggle (1945-1965)

    After the Second World War South Africa experienced an acceleration of the industrialization process, resulting in improved technological standards and, generally speaking, increased economic growth. Simultaneously there was a rising demand for the production factor labour, which necessitated further measures to make labour from the Reserves and Bantustans available. The discovery of new gold deposits in the Orange Free State likewise led to an increased proletarianization of the blacks. This development entailed an intensification of the class conflict. Thus the liberation struggle of the Africans underwent a qualitative transformation from a struggle for national emancipation to the class struggle.


    At first the ‘Unity Movement of South Africa’, founded under the initial name of ‘Non European Unity Movement’ (NEUM) in 1943, concentrated on politicizing the masses of peasants and workers in the sense of a clarification and proletarianization of their consciousness. In keeping with the ‘Unity Movement’s own account of developments we can highlight the characteristic features of this phase of the struggle thus:

1. The policy of non collaboration with the oppressors. It signified the refusal
    of any form of co-operation with institutions and representatives of the
    governmental machinery of oppression.
2. The rejection of negotiations and appeals to the ruling class, the rationale
    being that any hope for a change of heart would be sheer utopianism. The
    massacres of Sharpeville, Langa, Nyanga, Pondoland, Soweto etc. have
    proved this attitude to be historically correct.
3. No pacifist self immolation campaigns, no organization of isolated strikes,
    no demonstrations which would essentially always aim at the white
    electorate and clamour for the setting-up of a liberal government.
4. The rejection of racism through an attempt to organize black and white
    workers on a common platform. However, the social and economic
    privileges enjoyed by the whites through the establishment of the system
    of apartheid had hitherto prevented any solidarization.
5. Criticism of the anti-apartheid struggle as waged by the ANC and SACP. It
    is seen as a false alternative to the existing machinery of domination,
    which is supported by the very same imperialism that it purports to be
    fighting, for its programme merely envisages the abolition of racial
    discrimination. This struggle only takes place in the cities. If it could
    achieve its objective, the blacks, it is true, would obtain equal political
    rights and, given the African majority in the country, black faces would
    control parliament, but such an arrangement could only have the function
    of creating stable conditions for foreign investments without the
    economic exploitation of the African being abolished.


    In other words, the ‘Unity Movement’ sees the seeds of neo-colonialism germinating in the policy of the ANC. After the Sharpeville crisis of 1960 and the revolt in the Reserves I.B. Tabata came to the conclusion, that even the most backward strata of the oppressed - the ‘peasants’ - were prepared to take up arms. (52)  He wrote:

    "... there is a qualitative change in the mood and outlook
    of the people in town and country. ... The slaves from
    yesterday had suddenly dropped their humility and
    presented themselves before the disconcerted magistrates
    like men, who had cast off their chains. ... The
    people are ready to make sacrifices for liberty."

    In 1961, a new organization, the APDUSA, was founded within the UMSA. Conceived as a Socialist Party, if aimed at putting the interests of the exploited „peasants“ and migratory workers at the core of the Unity Movement’s political orientation.

3. Incipient Guerrilla Warfare (1965 - date)

    Since 1965 at the latest the ‘Unity Movement’ has considered guerrilla warfare (53) the only adequate means of liberating the oppressed Africans and destroying the capitalist system in South Africa. It has insisted that the rural areas of the country are of pivotal importance for the liberation struggle. The place, where the mass of the oppressed peasants and migratory workers live, forms the basis of the class struggle.

    During this period, the ‘Unity Movement’ stressed its internationalism even more poignantly than before. Its main objectives admittedly were the co-ordination of revolutionary struggles against imperialism in Southern Africa and the rest of the continent, the solidarity with liberation movements in the colonial world and with the international class struggle in the metropoles, but also with the fight for a socialist democracy in the bureaucratic workers’ states.

52  I.B.Tabata, The Pan African Congress Venture ..., op.cit.
53  On the theory of the guerrilla warfare cf. Mao Tse-Tung and Che Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare (London: Cassell, 1965, Kwame Nkrumah, Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare (London: Panaf Books, 1969). See also Otto Heilbrunn, Partisan Warfare (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd.,1962), and R. Rentsch, Partisanenkampf - Erfahrungen und Lehren (Frankfurt O.M.: Bernard Graefe Verlag für Wehrwesen, 1961).


    In order to translate this new policy into action, contacts with socialist countries and radical left-wing movements throughout the world have either been established or intensified in recent years with a view to bringing about a close theoretical, political and military co-operation.
    As early as December 1961, a conference illegally held in the bush, decided to send nine members of the 27- member ‘Central Executive’ abroad to create the technical and organizational conditions for the training of guerrillas of the ‘Unity Movement’. Currently, the guerillas of the 'Unity Movement' are undergoing training in camps situated thousands of kilometres from South Africa. Later they will be taken back to countries bordering on South Africa, from where they will return to their country to train others.

    While the UMSA criticizes the dogmatic adoption of the theory and practice of other socialist movements as „slavishly following in the footsteps of existing socialist states“ (54) and „contrasts the application of the principles of scientific socialism to the living realities of Africa“ (55) with dogmatic theorizing, it has endeavoured in particular to collaborate with the OSPAAL (‘Organization for the Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America’). The newspaper APDUSA reported at length about the ‘First Conference of the Solidarity of Asiatic, African and Latin-American Peoples’, which started on 3rd January, 1966. It said among other things:

    "For the All-African Convention and the Unity Movement
    of South Africa the Havanna Conference is of historic
    significance. In this Conference we see crystallized
    on an international scale all the principles for which we
    are in complete agreement with the aims and aspirations
    of the Organization of Afro-Asian and Latin-American
    Solidarity, for in fighting against the fascist regime
    of Verwoerd we have to contend with imperialism of
    which Verwoerd is only a tool." (56)

    In October 1967 APDUSA featured an article in homage of the murdered Che Guevara. The revolutionary’s death is not used for a trivial glorification of the victims of the revolution, it rather serves to revivify revolutionary energy:

    "Revolutionary fighters throughout the world mourn him and
    denounce his murderers, the imperialist-backed dictators
    of Bolivia. But they also proclaim his immortality in the
    hearts of men wherever they shall fight for freedom.
    It is fitting that the last ringing words of his challenge
    to the people of Latin America, Asia and Africa for a new
    resurgence of revolutionary internationalism, should
    express at once the selflessness, the indifference to death
    and his revolutionary optimism. Wherever death may
    surprise us, let it be welcome, provided that this, our
    battle cry, may have received some receptive ear and
    another hand may be extended to wield our weapons!" (57)

54  APDUSA, Official Organ of the Unity Movement of South Africa (Lusaka), Vol.2, June/September, 1967, p.2 sq.
55  Ibid.
56  Vol. II, February, 1966.
57  APDUSA, Vol.3, No.1, October 1967


    The revolutionary transformation of South African society after the victory of the revolution must take place according to the principles of Marx, Engels and Lenin: This is postulated by APDUSA in its June/September issue, 1967:

    1. „The confiscation of the means of production on behalf of
        the peasants and workers. From this time onwards, the State
        will by and by lose the basis of its existence.“ (58) In connection
        with the dialectics of the liberation of the State from bourgeois
        class interest and its simultaneous dissolution, the paper
        quotes Engels:

       "The first act in which the State really comes forward as
         a representative of society as a whole is to take possession
        of the means of production (land, labour and CAPITAL) in the
        name of society. (This act) is at the same time its last independent
        act as a State." (59)

         Furthermore it is pointed out that in the first phase of building
         a socialist society it will not yet be purged from all features of
         capitalism with regard to politics, culture, and economic structure.
         The first phase will rather be „a bourgeois State without a
         bourgeoisie“ (Lenin).

    2. The elimination of the class structure. The seizure of political power
        by the forces of the revolution, according to APDUSA, does not
        automatically bring about social and economic equality: „Equality
        doesn’t arise like Venus from the sea, fully clothed and ripe in
        maturity.“ (60) To achieve practical equality the whole population must
        be mobilized and made to participate in the reconstruction of society.
        Social reconstruction involves a rapid and consistent literacy drive, the
        advancement of political and technical training of workers and
        peasants, the organization of transport, production, trade, agricultural
        co-operatives and banking under socialist auspices, and especially the
        implementation of an agricultural reform.

58  APDUSA, Vol.2, No.12, June/September 1967, p.8.
59  Ibid.
60  Ibid., p.10.


    The writings of the Unity Movement consistently eschew any romanticizing of the revolution. They emphasize the fact that the building of Socialism is a long and laborious process, the peaceful development of which is particularly threatened by international capital. (61)
    It is of vital importance that the ‘Unity Movement’ has developed criteria which ought to make it possible to gauge the concrete degree of socio-economic progress already achieved by the intended aim of a socialist society. These criteria were formulated in the form of questions:

a) To what extent has the new state proceeded to take over
    the means of production, land, labour and capital?
b) To what degree is the elimination of classes proceeding?
c) What steps are being taken to bridge the gap in difference
    between the various classes, culturally, educationally,
    socially and economically?
d) To what extent is the rule of the capitalist class diminishing?
e) How far is the elimination of the market control gone? Is labour
    a commodity still regulated by the law of supply and demand? Are
    wages being determined by the costs of reproduction of each worker,
    as under capitalism? (62)

    These questions, which have to be confronted with reality, are meant at the same time as a sharp criticism of the so-called 'African Socialism'.
It is hard to understand why the problems of the liberation struggle in the industrial centres have been neglected in the analyses of the ‘Unity Movement’. It is of doubtful value, to say the least, to juggle with demographic data in order to underpin the thesis, that the freedom struggle must centre on the Reserves, if only in view of the high mobility between the Reserves and the cities.
    Any strategy of the liberation struggle must take account of the fact that the centres of economic and political power are situated in the cities. It is there that the struggle for control of the means of production will of necessity be hardest. In Memoriam it should be added here, that up to 1970 the UMSA made valuable contributions to analysing the history of the South African revolution, but that it was swept over by that very history before it could actually make history. Its ‘weapon of criticism’ never became a ‘criticism of weapons’ (Karl Marx). Meanwhile Tabata has expelled nearly all his members-in-exile from the UMSA. They, in turn, are now considering founding a new Unity Movement without Tabata.

61  Ibid., p.9.
62  Ibid., p.8.


D. The Liberation Struggle in Namibia.

1. The History of German Colonialism.

    In 1883 a big Bremen merchant, Adolf Luderitz, bought part of present-day Namibia from a certain Khoikhoin chief named Josef Fredericks for the paltry sum of 100 pounds sterling and 200 rifles. Before that time various disco- verers, explorers and missionaries had opened the way for German coloni- zation. Adolf Luderitz stated the objective of his purchase thus,

    „If we found a colony and if it is to be worth anything,
    I want Germans to live there.“ (63)

    In 1885 Luderitz sent a second expedition to South Africa „which was to take in hand above all the exploitation of mineral resources.“ (64) Chancellor Bismarck formally initiated the process of colonization by sending three German civil servants to Namibia, who settled at Otjimbingwe. On 24th June, 1889, the military annexation of Namibia as a „protectorate of the German Reich“ began with the landing of two brothers - Captain Kurt von Francois and Lieutenant H. von Francois - commanding 21 German soldiers.
    Like other colonial empire builders, the German imperialists introduced a policy of ‘divide and conquer’ in Namibia:

    „On the basis of my experience I had gained the absolute certainty,
    that the native in this pathless, vast Southwest Africa could only be
    conquered with the aid of other natives“. (65)

    In 1903 some Khoikhoin chiefs in Southern Namibia rose against German hegemony.

    „Governor Leutwein wanted to subdue the rebellious people
    personally, gathered a maximum number of troops in the South
    and thus thinned out the German military presence
    in the North.“ (66)

    The Hereros had only waited for this opportunity; they attacked German military posts, drove away numerous farmers and killed many German soldiers. The Ovambos likewise joined in the fighting. This concerted effort put the German colonial masters in a difficult position.

63  W. Schussler, Adolf Luderitz (Bremen, 1936), p. 39.
64  Eugen Fehr, Namibia - Befreiungskampf in Südwestafrika (Stein/Nürnberg: Leatare, 1973), p.25.
65  Theodor Leutwein, Elf Jahre Gouverneur in Deutsch-Südwestafrika (Berlin: E.S.Mittler, 1906), p.522.
66  Eugen Fehr, Namibia ... p.27.


    On 11th August, 1904, the battle of Waterberg took place. The defeated Hereros fled eastwards into a desert-like sandveld, where they were cordoned off by the Germans for several months. The German colonialists literally caused them to starve and die of thirst.

    „The death rattles of the dying and the frenzied cries
    of madness (...) died away in the august silence of infinity!
    (...) The judgement had come to an end. The Hereros had
    ceased to be an independent tribe.“ (67)

    Only about 21,700 Hereros survived this genocide; over 70,000 were killed.
In 1907 the Khoikhoin rose anew against the German colonial administration. In a similar way as the Hereros they were nearly exterminated by the soldiers of General Deumling. Out of 20,000 Nama counted in 1890, only 9,800 survived in 1911. Hundreds of Namibian resistance fighters died in the concentration camps of Swakopmund and on Shark Island, off Luderitz Bay. According to official estimates about 45% of the interned Namibians died in these camps, a total of about 7,700 prisoners. During these uprisings (1903-1911) the German colonialists destroyed the existing subsistence economy and one third of the productive forces. (68)

2. Annexation by South Africa.

    During the First World War South African troops marched into Namibia and had wrenched the entire territory from the German control by 1915. After the end of the war, in 1918, the League of Nations entrusted Namibia as „Mandate C“ to the Union of South Africa to „further with all its energy the material and moral well-being and the social progress of the inhabitants of the territory“ (Article 2 of the Mandate Treaty). Initially, the South Africans continued the German colonial policy. All the same they expelled 7,000 out of a total of approximately 15,000 German residents. This was followed by a real wave of South African immigration. At the end of the Second World War, the whites in Namibia numbered about 50,000.

67  Die Kämpfe der deutschen Truppen in Südwestafrika, herausgegeben von der kriegsgeschichtlichen Abteilung des Großen Generalstabs, Band 1, Der Feldzug gegen die Herero (Berlin 1907), p.214.
68  Cf. Südafrikas Politik in Namibia, eine Publikation des Aktionskomitees Afrika in Münster/Bielefeld, akafrik-report 3 and 4, 1972, Cf. also Franz J.T. Lee, „Internationales Kapital in Namibia“, in: Forum E (Bonn), No.1, Febr. 1975, p.62 - 64.


Gradually, the South African „native policy“ was introduced in Namibia. In 1925 the white population obtained internal self-government, while the African majority was gradually deprived of virtually all human rights. Even after the demise of the League of Nations and the end of the Second World War, South Africa continued to administer Namibia as a mandated territory, while to all intents and purposes it had been incorporated into the Union as its fifth province. As from 1948, when the Boer „National Party“ seized political control in South Africa, Namibia may be considered to have been virtually annexed.

    After many legal tussles, endless court cases and various stunts performed in the name of International Law, the United Nations on 27th October, 1966, terminated South Africa’s mandate and declared that henceforth Namibia would be the immediate responsibility of the United Nations. The United Nations Council for Namibia, which was to device ways and means of organizing the future administration, was set up. As early as 1968, South Africa debarred the members of the Council from entering Namibia.

3. The Emancipation Movement

    As we have previously seen, the peoples of Namibia have a long tradition of resistance against German colonialism and South African apartheid to their credit. The feats of the Herero chief, Hosea Kutako, the Nama chief, Samuel Hendrik Witbooi, and the leader of the ‘Basters’, Jacobus Beukes, have become a legend in Namibia.
    But it was only in the ‘Fifties that Namibians employed as migratory labourers in Cape Town founded their first modern organization in the form of a workers’ movement. After the Bandung Conference in 1955 and Ghanaian independence in 1957, some political movements which had developed in Namibia began to discuss the idea of nationhood. Under the leadership of the famous Toivo Ja Toivo, a member of the Ovambo people, now incarcerated in the concentration camp on Robben Island (his sentence runs till 1988), the ‘Ovamboland People’s Organisation’ (OPO) with Sam Nujoma as president was founded in 1958.


    In 1959 the ‘South West African National Union’ (SWANU) was constituted under the leadership of Jariretundn Kozonguizi. Various organizations of chiefs headed by Hosea Kutako formed a ‘Chiefs’ Council’ which protested against apartheid, alongside OPO and SWANU. In the early ‘Sixties their resistance primarily took the form of petitions, demonstrations and boycotts, which paralleled the Ghandian-pacifist policy of the South African ‘Congress’ movement. In 1960 the opposition elements among the Herero and Ovambo joined forces and changed the OPO to ‘South West African People’s Organisation’ (SWAPO).

    Under the chairmanship of Nujoma, conflicts developed within the SWAPO with the Herero Chiefs’ Council. The council opted out and founded a new party, the ‘National Unity Democratic Organization’ (NUDO). Although SWAPO and SWANU had merged in 1962 to form the „South West African National Liberation Front“ (SWANLF), the rivalries among the two organizations continued. Since then several small political organizations have sprung up, without however, achieving any noteworthy political relevance. SWAPO developed more and more into a mass organization. Although the majority of its adherents are Ovambo, an increasing number of East Caprivians, Hereros, Namas and people from other ethnic groups have swelled its membership.

    In late 1959 the Pretoria regime, after other unpopular measures, also tried to apply the „Group Areas Act“, i.e. the principle of Balkanization, to Namibia. Under the smokescreen of environmental sanitation a slum in Windhoek (the Old Warf) was to be demolished and the Namibians were to be resettled 5 km away at a place called Katutura („We have no abode“). In December 1959 serious disturbances touched off by this „resettlement“ exercise erupted in the centre of Windhoek. 250 women had started a demonstration which prompted the black population to express its solidarity. The police forces used armoured scout cars and opened fire on the demonstrators with the result that 13 Namibians were killed and 30 wounded, some of them seriously.


    Sam Davis said in a BBC interview,

    „At this battle, 13 Africans were shot and killed, but the
    Boers retreated with many of them seriously injured and
    many cars belonging to the South African police bandits
    destroyed by the angry Namibians.“ (69)

    In another interview, Sam Nujoma described the beginning of the next phase of the liberation struggle in Namibia as follows:

    "In the early stages of our movement we appealed to the
    South African government to grant us freedom and
    independence ... But unfortunately all our demands were
    met with brutal force by the South African police. As
    a result we were finally compelled in 1966 to train the
    independence fighters of the SWAPO in the use of arms.
    Since that time we have been fighting against South
    African oppression in view of South Africa’s refusal to
    recognize our people’s right to self-determination." (70)

    Thus the Namibian freedom struggle went through all the phases that also characterize the Africans’ struggle for emancipation in the Republic of South Africa, ranging from passive resistance to emancipatory counter violence in the shape of armed revolution.

    "We operated in the Northwestern part of our country, in the
    ‘Kaokoveld’ and in Northern Ovamboland; in the East we
    cover Okavango and the Caprivi Strip. That’s where our
    armed forces operate. At the moment we are about to
    extend the military front to the centre and the South of
    the country. We have no areas that are completely
    liberated, due to Namibia’s geographical position, since
    it is surrounded by countries still under colonial rule.
    Our common border with Zambia in the East is very short ...
    We have no large liberated Zone but operational areas
    where we carry out more or less administrative functions
    such as catering for the medical, educational and academic
    needs of the population." (71)

    Already on 26th August, 1966, South African troops attacked a SWAPO guerilla base at Onkulumbahe:

    "Thinking that the African guerrillas were just equipped
    with stones and bottles, as had been the case in Windhoek
    in 1959, the Boers decided to attack the base during that
    time. Here they were met with heavy fire from automatic
    weapons. According to still incomplete figures, 15 Boers
    were killed on the spot and 22 other wounded, of whom
    7 died later." (72)

69  Namibia Revolution, published by the Permanent Secretariat of the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization, Cairo, March 1971, p.40.
70  Information Dritte Welt, Namibia Number (Dortmund), September 1974, p.8.
71  Ibid., p.9.
72  Namibia Revolution ..., p.40.


    These events were followed by hundreds of arrests. In September, 1967, 37 SWAPO guerrillas were charged with „terrorism“ in Pretoria; 87 further „conspirators“ did not appear in court; some managed to escape while others were killed by police during the „Witch-hunt“. On 9th February, 1968, 19 of the accused guerrillas were sentenced to life imprisonment in Pretoria, another nine (among them Toivo) to 20 years each. One SWAPO guerrilla died in prison during the trial, and only one of the accused was acquitted.

    In May 1968 fighting broke out on the Zambesi River near Katimo Mulilo in the Caprivi Strip. The SWAPO leader Tobias Hamyeko fell during this military confrontation. Since then there has been some more fighting in Northern Namibia, although the SWAPO is now trying to work out new tactics of liberation. The Ovambo rising of 1971/72 paralysed Namibia’s economy and prompted South Africa to send troops to Namibia and clamp a state of emergency on the country. The SWAPO published extensive reports on these developments but there are no reliable figures on the victims of South Africa’s acts of violence. According to SWAPO one to two hundred Namibians have so far been killed during the conflict.

    In an interview the present writer had with Sam Nujoma at Frankfurt airport on 18th September, 1973, the president of the SWAPO defined the immediate social-revolutionary tasks of SWAPO thus:

(a)  to extend the people’s war from Northern Namibia
      to the remaining parts;
(b)  to co-ordinate its struggle with the revolutionary struggle in South
      Africa and the rest of Southern Africa;
(c)  to ensure maximum medical, financial, and military
      assistance for its struggle;
(d)  to propagate the democratic aims and revolutionary
      success of SWAPO, and
(e)  to obtain Namibia’s recognition as the legal and
      legitimate home of all Namibians.  (73)

73  Franz J.T. Lee, „Internationales Kapital ...“, p.64.

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