Evidence before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons by O. R. Tambo, London, 29 October 1985

CHAIRMAN: I welcome Mr. Oliver Tambo and his friends, Mr. Thabo Mbeki and Mr. Aziz Pahad, and I am glad that they have been able to come... Perhaps I could start by asking Mr. Oliver Tambo if he would describe to us the structure of the African National Congress and its organisation.

TAMBO: May I begin by thanking you very much indeed, and by thanking the Committee, for giving us this opportunity to appear before it. The African National Congress is headed by a National Executive Committee which is under present conditions established by what we call national consultative conferences. That takes into account the fact that we are largely operating outside South Africa and are illegal within South Africa itself. The National Consultative Conference appoints a National Executive Committee which then has various subcommittees under it. Between meetings of the National Executive Committee we have a National Working Committee which has the powers of the National Executive Committee. The National Working Committee has working immediately under it what is called the Political Military Council. This takes care of all problems relating to the internal situation in South Africa; it plans and executes or plans and carries out decisions on all issues related to the internal struggle. Then for largely international work the National Executive Committee has what is called the External Coordinating Committee. Then below these are various subcommittees that constitute the executive arm of the African National Congress. We have, of course, to relate to the national leadership of the African National Congress which is at Robben Island, and we carry out as much contact as is possible in our circumstances. The ANC inside South Africa is, of course, illegal and we operate underground structures there. That is generally the structure of the ANC. I should mention that we have an armed wing in the African National Congress known as Umkhonto we Sizwe. This comes under the control of the Political Military Council.

CHAIRMAN: I suppose the armed wing operates inside the Union of South Africa (sic!) and not outside, is that right?

TAMBO: It operates inside South Africa.

CHAIRMAN: Where do you normally meet, that is, the Working Committee?

TAMBO: In Lusaka, Zambia.

LESTER: Could I ask you what your relationship in South Africa is to other black or non-white groups seeking an end to the present system of political power? Do you consider these groups as rivals to your own or as allies in a common struggle?

TAMBO: The African National Congress was formed to unite our people. This is basic to our policy. Therefore, we encourage the formation of organisations that can operate legally and we support their efforts. We regard them as allies of our struggle, as part of the liberation struggle even though some of them may differ with the ANC perhaps on matters of method, strategy even, or on political questions. Most of them support the ANC in its struggle for the liberation of our country, and I can mention in this context - because perhaps the question is also related to that - the fact that we proposed the formation of Inkatha to Chief Gatsha Buthelezi and he acted on our advice. That is because we thought our people, whether they are in the bantustans or not, are part of the overall struggle against apartheid and, if they are against the apartheid system, then we regard them as part of the liberation movement.

LESTER: We all feel a repugnance for violence from whatever source, but it is especially unhelpful, in terms of British public opinion, when we see violence of black against black. We understand that city councillors and town councillors have been murdered, and we see regularly on our television screens the real problems in some of the townships. Do you support and encourage that attitude - that people should turn on one another within a township - or is this something which you also agree is unhelpful to your cause?

TAMBO: We think it is unavoidable, in a way. It is a product of the violent system in which we live. The councillors, some of whom have been killed, were collaborators with the regime at a very bad time, at a time when people were being killed for their resistance. Angers were aroused. Councillors were called upon to resign from these councils. Many of them did. Others were determined to operate structures which the people had always opposed. At a time when there was violence against the people, it was inevitable that their anger should vent itself against those who persisted in collaborating and sustaining these unwanted councils.

LESTER: How would you assess the support for the ANC amongst the non-white population in South Africa? Do you have a formal membership? Do you have any way in which you could assess the degree of support that the ANC has?

TAMBO: We have no formal membership, naturally, in South Africa, because we are illegal. However, we have no doubt that the majority of the people in South Africa support the ANC, for various reasons. Firstly, the ANC has been with the people for more than 70 years now, continuously, so it is their national organisation, and they relate to it. Secondly, 30 years ago the ANC and other organisations produced a programme - a policy - which was really a programme or a policy of the people of South Africa as a whole, which we call the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter puts forward a programme of objectives which are acceptable to the majority of our people: the idea, for example, that South Africa belongs to all who live in it; that a government of South Africa must be a government that derives its mandate from the people of South Africa, and the question of a nonracial democracy. These have a very strong appeal to our people, and they have given the ANC tremendous support in the country. Various opinion polls (for what they are worth) have invariably put the ANC as being massively supported by the people of South Africa. This support extends now across the colour line. There are whites, there are Coloureds, there are Indians and, of course, there are Africans, all of them supportive of the African National Congress, of us.

THOMAS: Mr. Tambo, I would like to ask you something about your answer to Mr. Lester's first question. We are aware that in June of last year the ANC, at its conference, came to a decision to take - or to intensify, rather - what it described as "the people's war" and to strike at what were described as "soft targets". I wonder if you could elaborate a little more on your answer, and tell us what precisely is the ANC's position on the role of force in bringing about change in South Africa?

TAMBO: The African National was nonviolent for 50 years, before it extended its struggle to embrace violence. When it was banned, in 1960, its policy was deliberately nonviolent. During the last ten years of that period, the people were faced with the onslaught of apartheid violence, during the 1950s. The ANC had campaigned on a basis of nonviolence, but violence against us was mounting throughout and culminated in the Sharpeville massacre. It was only after that; indeed, not even after the Sharpeville massacre,but after a strike which was called in 1961, organised by Nelson Mandela, which the Government sought to stamp out by deploying the army in the townships and all across the country, to stop a peaceful national strike. At that point there was nothing else we could do. Nonviolence had reached its end, and we decided, in the light of this massive violence, to resort to violence ourselves. That was 1961. Throughout the past two decades our violence has been largely confined to attacking economic installations, pylons and so on - very few casualties, in comparison with the massive casualties that we have sustained from the apartheid system, including the Soweto massacre. This has been part of our life. After two decades, from 1961 through 1981 to the present, we met in June, we looked at this long history of violence from 1948 to the present, which has remained unabated, which has increased, which has mounted, and we said, "We have virtually been nonviolent now for about 30 years."

THOMAS: What do you mean by "nonviolent", because you had your military wing which was operating in Mozambique and various other places, did you not?


THOMAS: Then you had the agreement between Mozambique's President and South Africa, which meant that you were no longer able to operate. You were exercising military violence from across the border, were you not? What do you mean by the "new violence" which was agreed in June of this year at your ANC meeting? What do you mean by it? What do you mean by "the soft targets" and the "people's war"? Mr. Lester mentioned the inter-black struggle which is going on, the policemen who are killed, the officials who are killed and their houses burnt, and that sort of thing. Is that something that you say is part of the ANC policy? Do you not condemn it?

TAMBO: That, of course, was going on when we met in June. That had started a year earlier. No, what we decided in June was to intensify the struggle. We recognised that if the struggle is intensified beyond the levels that we had maintained for 20 fruitless years of selected sabotage - if it was to be intensified - it was inevitable that life would then be lost. Even in the course of attacking military establishments, the army, the police, there would be bloodshed, that would involve bloodshed, and you would be reaching a level of conflict in which, as happens in all conflicts, the innocents would be hit not deliberately but unavoidably. We would be fighting an intense struggle with arms and it was unavoidable. This is what we decided in June, that now there is going to be more bloodshed than there has ever been before. But we recognise that we have been the victims of violence, there has been bloodshed on our side all the time. Now, this question of black versusblack is generally misunderstood, I am afraid. The South African Government uses black police which it arms and which shoot at our people, so they have got an area of conflict between black and black, but it is not really between black and black, it is between the agencies of the regime - its armed police force killing civilians who are unarmed, and this has been presented as a conflict between black and black. It is not really, it is conflict between, on the one side, the victims of the apartheid system and the forces that represent and defend the apartheid system on the other. In the course of all this, of course, there are excesses which we do not condone, but we understand the circumstances in which all this is happening. There has been such an onslaught on our people by the Pretoria regime, there has been so much killing and shooting - shooting of children who do not have to be killed, they are killed because they are taking a stone and throwing a stone, they cannot hurt anybody throwing a stone, but in return for it they are shot and killed. This enrages the people and makes them more angry and we can understand that they can go to excesses in the way that they respond to this unbridled violence by apartheid.

THOMAS: The children of black policemen and black officials have been killed and their houses have been burned. You say you do not condone it. Are you willing to condemn it?

TAMBO: What I condemn with all the vehemence I can muster is the fact that for 70 years now - 75 years this year, three-quarters of a century this year - we have been the victims of white minority rule which has progressively become more and more violent against us up to the point where it now assumes the forms that we are witnessing. It is that violence, that is where it all starts. I condemn that because, if the apartheid system stopped - and it is violent, it maintains itself by violence - if it stopped, all this would not be happening. No child would be shot dead, none would be killed even by a petrol bomb. All this is the precise result of what people, South African journalists and writers, reporters and editorial writers, have been warning the apartheid regime about. They have said during the 1970s already that unless the Pretoria regime changes there is trouble ahead, and the constant message was "Change before it is too late". They did not change before it was too late. We have had Soweto only in 1976, a few years ago, and we have had this persistent violence which we have witnessed ever since Botha came into power. Now, all that must be taken into account before one condemns an individual act. I regret all these things, I regret them, but I would refuse to be asked to condemn individual acts when I know that these acts would not have been there in the first instance had there not been this criminal system, this crime against humanity. We think this is where we should focus. We should focus on the cause, not the symptom but the cause of all this, and the cause is the apartheid system.

ST. JOHN-STEVAS: Mr. Tambo, you have been very frank with us in stating your attitude to violence. I am sure it will be clear to you that this Committee totally condemns the use of violence to settle political disputes and that is the view not only of this Committee but the view of the entire House of Commons and every party in it. Indeed, it was stated by the Prime Minister - and she was supported in this by the Leader of the Opposition. Do you consider that the African National Congress is a political party as well as a liberation movement, with what you yourself described a moment ago as an armed wing ready to use violence? In the event of a promise being made of a reform of the political framework with an election based on democratic suffrage, would the ANC come forward and contest the election as a democratic political party and renounce the use of force?

TAMBO: We would. This is what we are fighting for. This is what we are insisting on. We say that the government must be the government of the people of South Africa, it should be an elected government, elected by the people of South Africa, not by a small white minority. This is at the very heart of our story. Now, the African National Congress is not a political party, it is a national movement and has within it people of all political persuasions. It is a national movement, but it seeks to establish in South Africa a democracy precisely so that the country should be run according to the will of the majority of the people who would seize upon any opportunity for elections to take place so that we elect a government of the people of South Africa.

ST. JOHN-STEVAS: It is quite clear that you would like to see an end to apartheid - and indeed we all would - but is the ANC committed to a political philosophy that goes beyond the ending of apartheid? For instance, the Freedom Charter has some definite views about nationalisation and land redistribution. Could you say something more about the attitude of the ANC to these matters?

TAMBO: Well, the Freedom Charter is not formulated on the basis of any ideological positions. The Freedom Charter simply looks at our situation in which there is great wealth - immense wealth - concentrated in the hands of a few while the vast majority of people are living in desperate poverty, and we say how do we adjust this position? How can this wealth be put at the service of the people as a whole? What are the mechanisms? And we start by accepting that it cannot go on, we cannot have a system which maintains this juxtaposition of immense wealth and immense poverty.

ST. JOHN-STEVAS: Is it your intention to destroy the capitalist system as such, or to reform it?

TAMBO: No, we do not want to destroy it. The Freedom Charter does not even purport to want to destroy the capitalist system. All that the Freedom Charter does is to envisage a mixed economy in which part of the economy, some of the industries, would be controlled, owned, by the State (as happens in many countries), and the rest by private ownership - a mixed economy. The motive behind it is to ensure, if I may put it that way, a more equitable distribution of the wealth of the country. So we are looking at it purely from a pragmatic point of view. Can you have a government which sustains the present system of the distribution of the wealth of the country? We say that that government will not last in our country.

MIKARDO: Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask two questions, if I may, one supplementing a question of Mr. Thomas's, and one supplementing the last question of Mr. St. John-Stevas. The first is this. Did I understand aright when I thought that in replying to Mr. Thomas what you were in fact saying was that if one of your people attacks or counterattacks a black policeman, that is not a black man attacking a black man, it is a black man attacking a policeman? Would I be right in that?

TAMBO: I was trying to move away from the idea that this thing is essentially black versus black. I was saying that if the South African army employs blacks, puts them into uniform and orders them to shoot blacks, then the blacks that are being shot see an enemy in that policeman who is firing at them. That is not a question of really black versus black, it is the apartheid system functioning in its normal way. The struggle of those who are being shot at is really a struggle against the violent system that they want to remove from the country.

MIKARDO: Thank you very much, that answers my question perfectly. The other one is this: would I be right in judging that the economic provisions of your Freedom Charter amount to no more than the contention that when political power has been shared out through the community, instead of being confined to a small fraction, then economic power and economic resources should similarly be shared out more fairly amongst the people as a whole? Would that be a fair interpretation of that part of your Freedom Charter?

TAMBO: I have said the Freedom Charter seeks to correct a very unfair distribution of wealth. That would be the motivating consideration, to ensure that people benefit from the wealth of the country. The mechanism that the Freedom Charter envisages is that of nationalisation. However, ultimately the decision must be taken by the people in a democratic manner, as to how they want that to be done. The ANC says, "Let's nationalise some of these big conglomerates."

CHAIRMAN: Mr. Tambo, what the Freedom Charter says about that is that "The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people; All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions." I think that that is an accurate quote, is it not?

TAMBO: It is, yes.

LAWRENCE: Mr. Tambo, it is not just what you hope for, but what you actually do, that people judge you by. I just want to go back, if I may, to the armed struggle, because it is very important that the world should not misunderstand your position. I think you will agree that in 1981 you said: "We are now employing every form of violence that we can marshal. It is going to be an onslaught." In 1983 you said: "Our armed offensive will occupy a correspondingly more important role in our overall strategy to seize power from the racist tyrants." Following that, there was a bomb which went off in a street in Pretoria, killing 19 people, and 217 people were injured, on 20 May 1983. The ANC claimed responsibility for that. So far are you agreeing?

TAMBO: Yes, yes, yes.

LAWRENCE: Then can I move on to the question that you have raised today? You told us that the violent attacks were confined to attacking economic installations. It really looked as though you were saying that however bad the violence had been in the past, you were now wanting to concentrate on purely economic and presumably military installations. If that is so, will you disown all attacks in the ANC's name on African security policemen, community councillors, former ANC members who have turned State's witnesses, any bombing in city centres, shopping areas, public buildings and places of entertainment? Are any such future acts to be condemned by you and the ANC?

TAMBO: Let me go back a little to the first part of this question that you have raised and what I said in 1981 and subsequently. In 1981 one of our most outstanding leaders was assassinated by South African agents - by South African agents. In that year South Africa had raided our people - raided Mozambique - and massacred very brutally some 13 of our people who were simply living in houses in Mozambique. That was 1981. In 1982 the South African army invaded Lesotho and massacred not 19 people but 42 people shot at point-blank range - 42 - 12 of them nationals of Lesotho. So there was this mounting offensive against the ANC. I think your question fails to relate to this aspect: that we were the victims of assassinations, of massacres, and in return for what? We were not killing anybody. We were not killing anybody. An armed struggle is an armed struggle. People die. It has been fortunate perhaps, in that time, that there have not been so many people dying on the other side of the conflict, but many on our side. They have been hanged, they have been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment, for exploding a bomb that destroyed a pylon; sentenced to life imprisonment. That is violence. This is what we are going through. As to these other people you are mentioning, we cannot condemn it. That is part of the struggle. The enemy is the enemy. This country has fought a war 45 years ago. How many children were not killed when the RAF was bombing away in Germany and other places? How many? Why is this so strange with us? After all, we have got a fascist nazist regime that came into power in 1948, immediately after the defeat of Nazism in Germany. We are confronted with that. We have decided to fight and in fighting people will be killed. There must be no mistake, gentlemen, no mistake at all; we do not love violence, we dislike violence and we keep saying that this thing was thrust upon us, that we have rejected and resisted it for 10 long years. We never thought we would ever be violent for about half a century. We have restrained ourselves for a further 20 years, and it cannot go on like that. The other liberation movements have taken up arms and intensified their struggles and won their independence on our borders; while we are picking out pylons they were fighting a war. A war is a war. We have delayed it but we cannot delay it indefinitely. Apartheid is a crime against humanity and it is more a crime against us. We have suffered under it. We have got to fight it. We will fight it as resolutely as the British people fought Nazi Germany, as resolutely - and in the process we want to make no mistake about this. We are carrying on a struggle which others elsewhere have carried on, and it is an armed struggle, but it has been an armed struggle with so much restraint that we have tended to draw attention to the few acts of violence that we have carried out, diverting attention from the massive violence that comes from the operation of the apartheid system. Our people are certain about this and I would like to make the position of the ANC absolutely clear: we have acted with a great deal of restraint and I think that that should be recognised and, if we are being pushed to intensify that struggle, it is simply because we feel the need to get rid of that system that much more urgently.

LAWRENCE: So your answer to my question comes to this, that you will intensify the violent struggle and go on planting bombs in busy shopping centres, places of entertainment and places where the public gather?

TAMBO: No, that is not right. I am saying that we have been using a lot of restraint. One of the things we are not going to do is to attack cinemas, to attack children. We do not do that, but we will attack police, we will attack the military, and in the process we say it is inescapable that innocent people will die as innocent people died in the wars that have been carried out in South Africa, in Angola, in Zimbabwe, in Mozambique, in Lesotho and recently in Botswana where they raided and killed innocent people. We cannot accept that we must sit by and avoid all this while it is coming on us all the time. So we are not saying we are, therefore, going to make attacks on bazaars and that kind of thing; we will continue to exercise as much restraint as we can, but it must be accepted that if the apartheid system persists and compels us to intensify the struggle, then these things are going to happen. This is why we have said that the international community should make it unnecessary for us even to intensify the struggle by employing and imposing sanctions on the system to help us to make it unnecessary for us to keep escalating our struggle. But struggle we must.

CHAIRMAN: Mr. Tambo, if you will forgive me interrupting you, I think we have dealt very comprehensively with this question, and I am grateful to you for your clarity...(2) Then perhaps we could turn to the question of sanctions.

CANAVAN: The ANC has consistently called for economic sanctions. Could you elaborate on exactly what kind of sanctions you would like to see? Would it involve an economic boycott of South Africa by countries like the United Kingdom, or could you specify exactly what kind of sanctions you would like to see?

TAMBO: We have been calling for comprehensive mandatory sanctions, therefore total sanctions, total severance of economic and other links with the South African regime, in all economic areas. This is what we think would be most effective. However, we have also, as part of that, addressed the question of specific sanctions which would be most effective in the interim, like disinvestment form of sanctions. Recently we have had the experience of banks withholding loans. So that all falls within the concept of total sanctions. An oil embargo, arms embargo - this is part of sanctions. Severance of trade relations. In other words, total sanctions. Some of these have been mentioned - for example, such as stopping flights from and to South Africa. However, all these would be a whole package of what would amount to total sanctions, ideally enforced by the Security Council, but otherwise by countries individually.

CANAVAN: To what extent do you think such sanctions would help to bring about peaceful democratic change in South Africa?

TAMBO: The thing about sanctions is that it really aims to aid a peaceful resolution of the South African problem. That is the primary aim of sanctions: to make the process of transition through struggle as limited as possible in terms of the scale of the conflict, to limit the scale of the conflict. What happens without sanctions is that we are confronted with the might of the regime and have to rely on our own struggle, our own sacrifices, and we have to mount the struggle, if you like, we have to sacrifice more, it has got to become increasingly violent and escalate to very disastrous levels, involving a lot of destruction of property and life. That is what would happen if we had to do it unaided. However, there is a peaceful way in which we could be aided, which would operate to weaken the system and make it less capable of resisting our struggle, and encourage an early resolution of the problem, without our having to draw on everything we can to bring it down. So sanctions are fundamentally aimed at limiting the escalation, limiting the scope of the conflict, before the problem is solved.

CANAVAN: Critics of sanctions is this country and elsewhere sometimes claim that sanctions would hurt the black people of South Africa and, indeed, black people in neighbouring States such as Swaziland and Lesotho which have got close economic links with South Africa. What would you say to these critics?

TAMBO: This has never been correct. It has never been correct, because under apartheid people are suffering, and are suffering very badly, from this system, so much so that they would want to do anything they can to put an end to it. What would they suffer if sanctions are employed? We have been told they would lose their jobs. There are three million unemployed already, without the use of sanctions. It is part of our life. It has been like that all the time. People who are prepared to die for their liberty must be prepared to make a sacrifice of going without food, of being unemployed, because even that unemployment is with them all the time precisely because of the apartheid system. There have been opinion polls taken in South Africa recently which really confirm what I am saying, that the majority of the people are saying sanctions. Naturally - I think it is natural - it is a sacrifice they can make. Apartheid kills, sanctions will not kill them. As far as the countries around South Africa are concerned, they have said they would not oppose sanctions because they agree that sanctions would bring a speedier end to the apartheid system than a struggle without the support of sanctions. They also recognise that the growing conflict is bound to spill over and affect them anyway and they would suffer more from such a conflict than from sanctions. President Kaunda has said there is an explosion that is building up in South Africa. Sanctions can interrupt that process but, without sanctions, that explosion will affect the whole region. So they are clear that sanctions are the best way the international community can intervene on the South African situation.

CANAVAN: So the British Government has resolutely refused to implement major meaningful economic sanctions. What effect do you think this is having on Britain's relations with other African countries?

TAMBO: Well, I most certainly think that the African countries are very disturbed about the position of Britain. Britain has a long history of association not only with South Africa but with the problem of South Africa, and the African people expect that Britain would want to do something to end a system which has developed out of a British Act of Parliament, and there is such unanimity in Africa on the question of sanctions - the OAU is united on the question of sanctions, and this includes even the countries that are around South Africa - the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth. There are strong feelings about sanctions and Britain stands out as one of the few countries, perhaps even the only country, that is opposed to sanctions. We think that the African diplomat would say, "This is a hostile attitude to Africa because the effect of it is to protect and defend the apartheid system." It certainly gives encouragement to the Botha regime and when the regime shoots down our people the feeling is that it can afford to do so because it is relying on the support of Britain.

LAWRENCE: Are you not saying this, Mr. Tambo, that you concede that sanctions will lead to a large amount of additional unemployment to blacks and when unemployed blacks are running in the streets you will take them into your armed violent struggle against the State, this being thereby the end of the racist regime? Is that not what you are saying? If you are saying that, can you seriously expect the British people to support that?

TAMBO: I am not saying we want our people to be in the streets. I am talking about -

LAWRENCE: But they will be in the streets.

TAMBO: Well, then, let me explain this.


TAMBO: Sanctions in any case do not affect Africans alone. If it is a matter of firms closing down because of the operation and effectiveness of sanctions, the white workers too would lose their jobs. Perhaps they would be concerned about this because they benefit from apartheid anyway. They have no reason to want to stop the apartheid system. But the blacks will see that as weakening a system that dominates them and has dominated them all the time. It is not that we want sanctions so that our people can be out of work; we say that we want sanctions so that apartheid can end, this apartheid which everybody says must end. That is what must end and we are ready to make any sacrifice - it is not suffering, it is sacrifice - in order to see this system ended.


LESTER: Is not the most effective sanction you can employ the internal withdrawal of labour?I was in Soweto in 1975 when Soweto did not go to work for three days and Johannesburg totally closed down. That is surely within your control and that is something you can organise within the country without the external pressure, if people feel as strongly as you suggest they do.

TAMBO: No, we do not conceive of sanctions as a substitute for our own struggle and our own sacrifices; it is additional. So we will continue, we will certainly embark on massive strike actions, we will do all the things that we can and must do for our own freedom, but sanctions are additional and sanctions alone would not bring about any results. We have to be involved in the two pressures from inside and from outside.

HARVEY: On a slightly different subject, could you tell us where the ANC gets most of its arms and support from, and indeed what your relations are with the Soviet Union on the one side and the United States on the other?

TAMBO: Well, may I say that I came out of South Africa in 1960 and the first country I came to, of course, was Britain. Next I went to the United States and sought support there. I spent the rest of the time in Western Europe seeking support for our struggle. I was asking for a boycott of South African goods and all that. In 1963 I went to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union responded to our request for arms. It was made clear to us that we would have to buy weapons if we wanted weapons in Western Europe; we could not afford that, so we went where we could get these weapons free. The Soviet Union was willing to give them to us. We do not rely on weapons only. You know, this armed struggle thing is really an extension of our political struggle. Our struggle is a political struggle which involves violence. So there are other areas in which we can be assisted, and are being assisted. In Western Europe, virtually all the countries of Western Europe are giving us assistance (not arms). Our relationship with all these countries - the Soviet Union, Sweden, Denmark, Italy - is simply based on their support for our struggle, with what they can give by way of support, and we accept what they can give us. In no case are there any strings attached. As a liberation movement, we must go everywhere. Now we have gone to the United States, and what has happened in the United States is that we have had the people of the United States taking up our issue very, very forcibly - for instance, in the formation of the Free South Africa Movement which has challenged the policy of constructive engagement and the alliance declared between the United States Administration and South Africa. So they are giving us that kind of support, which we appreciate. Again, it is without strings. It is support which we must have as a liberation movement, and we take what we are given.

HARVEY: And China?

TAMBO: China too, yes. We have been to China as well.

b: We come to the last question now.

ST. JOHN-STEVAS: I would like, Mr. Chairman, to go back to the very important question of sanctions at the present moment, and to the crucial point that was put by my colleague Mr. Lester, namely, that the only effective sanction is going to be an internal sanction, and the implication of that is that external sanctions simply will not work. Can you, Mr. Tambo, give us an example where external sanctions have actually achieved their purpose? What they achieve is surely that they make the people who impose them feel moderately better, but they do not in fact bring about their result. Is not it therefore reasonable to say that the policy being followed by Britain at the moment, and by Mrs. Thatcher, at least has the merit of being honest and realistic and practical, in the sense that it is resting on the basis that it is easier to persuade South Africa to moderate its internal policies by persuasion without sanctions, rather than arousing the increased hostility of South Africa and the resort to substitution which would be the answer to sanctions?

TAMBO: That is part of the problem; that the whole world has been pleading with South Africa from 1946 and very intensively since the apartheid era, 1948, all over the world, from everywhere. I do not think there is a single country which has been under greater international pressure, as well as internal pressure, for change, with no change coming. This is part of the problem. It is not going to help to continue on this basis. South Africa is no longer concerned about, for instance, the denunciation of its policies. We welcome it, but we know that they have become insensitive to condemnation, it does not mean anything. They are bent on change, but on change at their own pace. We have got to force that pace. We cannot rely on asking them. They have been asked all the time by the British Government. They have been asked to release Nelson Mandela, by the British Government. They have not done that. They are not doing that. The only thing that has not been tried is sanctions - not seriously enough. However, they are very, very concerned now, since the positions taken by the United States, since the positions taken by the banks. In fact the withdrawal of loans, the refusal to grant loans or to roll them over, has demonstrated that sanctions can be effective. One of the consequences of this has been that the business community in South Africa has now been moved not by appeals but by the reality of the threat of sanctions, of disinvestment, to take very firm positions against the Botha regime. That is part of it, because the business community is convinced that sanctions will hurt. That is the only reason they are concerned about it. What has happened is that sanctions have not been tried; they have been rejected on the ground that they are going to hurt us, we who are asking for sanctions. However, they have not been tried. If they were tried, the effect would be immediate.

CHAIRMAN: Mr. Tambo, I am afraid we must stop here. We are very grateful in the Committee to you and your colleagues for having come this afternoon and for the clearness with which you have put your views and answered our questions. Thank you very much. 

Mr. Tambo, together with Thabo Mbeki and Aziz Pahad, members of the National Executive, appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee on behalf of the African National Congress.

Sir Anthony Kershaw was in the Chair. The following Members of Parliament were present: Dennis Canavan, Robert Harvey, Ivan Lawrence, Jim Lester, Ian Mikardo, Norman St. John-Stevas, Peter Thomas and Michael Walsh.

2 Then followed questions on conditions necessary for the negotiation of a peaceful end to the situation, and Mr. Mbeki replied to those questions.