The Heritage Foundation

Executive Memorandum #126 on Africa

July 10, 1986

July 10, 1986 | Executive Memorandum on Africa

A Secret Communist Document Reveals the Real Game Plan for SouthAfrica

(Archived document, may contain errors)

7/10/86 126


United States policy toward the Republic of South Africa (RSA) has reached a turning point. For five years the Reagan Administration has used private diplomacy and quiet pressure to encourage the Pretoria government to speed the dismantling of apartheid, i ts institutionalized system of racial segregation. But under heavy pressure from groups in the Congress and the international community, the Administration has begun a high-level review of this policy. Beyond short-term considerations such as whether or n o t the U.S. should impose harsh economic sanctions on Pretoria, the policy review is considering questions of more significance for the long term, including U.S. policy toward the best-known South African opposition group, the African National-Congress (AN C ). Before coming to their conclusions, Administration strategists should study closely a May 1986 secret discussion document of the South African Communist Party Politburo, captured recently by South African authorities. The report discusses at length the attitude of the Communist Party toward the negotiations between the ANC and South African reformist elements. The document not only reveals the close links between the ANC and the communists and the way in which the communists exploit the ANC to manipulat e Western opinion, but it also echoes the success that Communist Parties have had in the past in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Vietnam, Nicaragua, and elsewhere in fooling the West by hiding behind the respectable' front of "genuine" reformist national liberatio n movements.

The South African communist document begins by noting the increased stature of the so-called "liberation front." The document points out that no longer is the Communist Party-ANC alliance viewed merely as an "agitational opposition"; instead, it is seen increasingly as "the immediate alternative power." Because of this change--and, specifically, the increased visibility of the ANC--the Party has felt it necessary to reassure its membership that it still controls*what it calls the revolution in South Africa. Is While the ANCIs own literature claims as its ultimate goal a "national democratic revolution," the secret communist document rejects this thesis. Instead, the national democratic revolution is described as "a stage towards the struggle fo r social emancipation in

the epoch of the world transition from capitalism to socialism and within the context of the struggle against imperialism." The document discusses the breakdown of consensus among the white ruling elite'. noting.that "there appea rs to be a proliferation of new groupings which consider themselves to be part of the forces for change." Then the document cautions that these new groups "cannot necessarily be embraced as part of ... the revolutionary forces." The meaning: the Communist Party is willing to use these groups for what they can offer, and then cast them aside. This, of course, is what communist parties have done in a dozen other countries since 1945. The Politburo study states candidly its view of these liberal South African reformers: "Let us be clear. The 'liberal' bourgeoisie seek transformations of the South African society which go be@ond the reform limits of the present regime but which aim to preempt the objectives of the revolutionary forces .... They seek transformat i on through negotiation and not the kind of conflict which would culminate in a revolutionary seizure of power." That is, the liberal reformers seek peaceful, negotiated change. This does not serve the interests of the Communist-ANC liberation front, becau s e it does not allow for the seizure of power by the revolutionaries. Though it is essential for the liberation front to be seen by the international community as sincere in its desire for peaceful change, this must not divert attention from the the main g o al: "Nor must a genuine desire to project a-public image of 'reasonableness' tempt us to paddle softly on the true nature of the liberation alliance and its revolutionary socioeconomic objectives .... The main thrust of our present strategy remains a revo l utionary seizure of power." The talks which so far have taken place between the ANC and reformist elements in South Africa therefore are only tactics in a much broader strategy. What the Communist Party confidentially has been telling its members is that t he'only real negotiations the Communist-ANC liberation front is interested in are surrender terms. Before that, there is-to be no real negotiation and no real compromise. The Reagan Administration must understand this when reviewing its'policy toward the ANC. It may rediscover what it has known to be true all along--that when it comes to negotiation with the ANC, the best negotiation is no negotiation.

William W. Pascoe, III Policy Analyst

For f urther information:

"The Role of the Soviet Union, Cuba, a nd East bermany in Fomenting Terrorism in Southern Africa," Hearings bcf ore the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 97th Congress, 2nd Session, March .1982. Alan Cowell, ".Wild Card in South Africa: Communist Party," The New York Times June 26, 1986.


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