From: The South African Communist Party In Exile 1963 - 1990

The 1980s were the culmination of the mass popular uprising, which had received its initial spark in the 1970s. These developments, including the emergence of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), required more creativity on the part of the exiled organisations.

With the CEC restructured to become a Politburo in 1977 and Mabhida elected the new general secretary at the 1979 augmented meeting, the head­quarters of the Party were shifted to Luanda, where a permanent Secretariat was created to work with the general secretary. The Secretariat was "to attend to the whole range of problems around the internal organisation of the Party, its growth inside as well as proper guidance to the working class and the Trade Unions".1 The PB, at one of its meetings in 1981, established three subcommittees to focus on propaganda; trade union work; and "internal" work in the forward areas and inside the country. Unlike in the 1960s when the Party existed in an organised form only in London, or in the 1970s when Party collectives outside London could only be found in Lusaka, Dar es Salaam and Moscow; by 1981, the Party's organised presence had spread to Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, and, inside the country, in Cape Town. Therefore, for the 1980s, the Party's strategy focused on building a strong underground presence inside the country, and among the working class in particular. For this purpose relations with SACTU and the trade unions emerging inside the country, became very important. Furthermore, in order to strengthen CC leadership on the ground, at the CC meeting of September 1981, some CC members were deployed to Party regions. John Nkadimeng was made responsible for Mozambique and Swaziland, Dan Thloome for Botswana, Slovo for Zimbabwe, Hani for Lesotho, Bunting for London and the African Communist, and Mabhida for Angola and East Africa. And equally important, was the demarcation of responsibilities between the general secretary and the chairperson, with the latter given international work, and the former internal Party building.

The period leading to the mid-1980s also saw the stabilisation .of the workings of the Party in a number of areas. First, the PB, as a recent phenomenon, began to regularise its meetings whose proceedings would focus on minutes of the previous meeting, regional reports, deployment and transfers of cadres (including those sent to the Lenin School), and conclude with a discussion of the international situation. Secondly, the issue of the Secretariat for the support of the general secretary was also resolved. For example, in June 1982, Hani and Slovo were appointed by the PB to serve in the three-person Secretariat; in 1984, with permission from Tambo, Josiah Jele was released for full-time work in the Secretariat. Later in the mid-1980s, also with permission from Tambo, Slovo was released for full-time work as the Party's chair­person. Thirdly, CC members based in Lusaka, at the ANC's headquarters, constituted themselves into a core whose minutes were discussed at PB meetings. Fourthly, new approaches were introduced to establishing the underground in the country. Of interest here was the PB decision in January 1984 to, on the one hand, activate Party stalwarts in the Transvaal, Natal, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and the Transkei; and, on the other, to allo­cate the Western Cape to Ray Simons and Hani, the Transvaal to John Nkadimeng and Dan Thloome, the Eastern Cape to Josiah Jele and Hani, and Natal to Mac Maharaj.

Moreover, Party finances were also in a better position. By 1980, the London Aid Committee, now with a membership including Slovo, Dan Thloome, and Moses Mabhida, had monies in various London-based banks in three currencies (dollars, pounds and rands), totaling £130 000, US $249 000 and R29 000. So demanding was the work that in 1984 the Party had to ask its Soviet counterpart to increase its annual allocation of US $60 000, US $40 000 of which was spent in administrative expenses and the production of the African Communist . The Party appealed for an increase not only because of inflation and the demands of the struggle, but also due to the fact that "we have no other income and underground conditions make it virtually impossible to raise our financial needs from public collections amongst our people". 2

Finally, the propaganda machinery was also stabilising, thanks to a number of steps taken during the 1970s. Important in this regard was the development of the practice of distributing inside the country Party pamphlets in various African indigenous languages (see the propaganda table in Chapter Four). Furthermore, the launch in July 1971 of Inkululeko-Freedom , which was re-named Umsebenzi in 1985, as a mouthpiece of the party was also important. As to the circulation of the African Communist, the number continued to increase, between 1967 and 1972 almost doubling from 3 500 to 6 300 copies. The dis­tribution of party propaganda material, including publications such as Michael Harmel's Fifty Fighting Years, Brian Bunting's Moses Kotane, and South African Communists Speak, was facilitated through special outlet stores, universities, political parties, trade unions, the Anti-Apartheid movement and other solidarity networks. What also strengthened these efforts was the development of a mailing list of influential inpiduals based in the country who were sent Party publications automatically.

A number of factors also contributed towards stabilising rela­tions between the Party and the ANC. First, were the imperatives of the struggle, which were so demanding on the liberation movement in the aftermath of the workers' strikes, and student riots of the mid-1970s. Secondly, with Mabhida at the head of the Party, given his strong footing within the ANC, this promised to bring back the days of Kotane. If the latter's legacy in the Party was that he indigenised and Africanised the organisation, Mabhida's was that he integrated the Party's external mission into Africa, and, in particular, in the whole liberation movement. Finally, the relocation of the Party's headquarters from London to Luanda in 1981, and, the following year, to Maputo, and, after the Nkomati Accord, to Lusaka (where the ANC headquarters were located), was also another factor. Not only was the Party now taking part in meetings between the ANC and SACTU aimed at strengthening the labour movement inside the country, but the Party and ANC, in one instance, "had exhaustive discus­sions on the internal situation and future co-operation". 3 This meeting was probably one of the first formal encounters between the ANC and the Party since the 1969 meeting. At another meeting with the ANC held in 1982, it was agreed that the two organisa­tions should meet at least twice a year. For that matter, the Party could now, probably with permission from the ANC, establish units among MK soldiers in Angola.

But the relationship between the two organisations was still not without its contradictions. The issue was no longer whether the Party should establish its units or not, but what the Party expected of its members in the ANC and other organs of the liberation movement. One attempt in this regard, was for the CC, in its meeting of September 1981, to pass its famous resolution on "Party Work in Fraternal Organisations". According to the resolution: "It is the right and duty of communists working in the national movement to discuss and decide collectively on their common approach to all matters which affect the basic direction and content of the revolutionary struggle, and to ensure that they advance and support such decision in any organ in which the matter arises". Furthermore, "every Party cadre who is active at any level of a fraternal organization is accountable to the Party collective to which he or she is a member for his or her work and conduct in that organization". Party members in the latter position were to be regularly assessed and guided by their units and regions, and "it is the duty of every Party collective to recommend appropriate disciplinary measures against any comrade who has been judged to have acted in breach of this resolution"4

Similarly, in 1985, the CC noted in one of its documents that "it is vital... that already at this stage our Party should be able, with the full cooperation and agreement of the national liberation movement, to function in close and accepted forms so as to bring to the fore the noble aspirations of the labouring people in our country for socialism". The document continued:

But it is not only a matter of co-operation and co-ordination at the policy and decision-making level that is of immediate interest to all Party members. It is also vital that the Party should be in a position to exercise discipline and control over all Party members, wherever they may be in the world or in whatever organization - military or otherwise - they may be active. It is important that our partners in the struggle must see this as something in the interest of the entire struggle, as it will enable a higher ideological level to be maintained as well as higher standards of unity and discipline all round. 5

Nor was the problem with the London Committee on its role in internal work resolved. For example, in January 1983, the London Committee wrote a strongly-worded report to the PB, seeking for "more precise directives" on the matter:

Is the LC to be the main center responsible for internal work, or do we get instructions from the PB? What are we to concentrate on - internal reconstruction and the formation of units etc, or propaganda, leaflet bombs etc.? The LC feels that our most important task is political, not technical - that it is more important to get a unit functioning as part of the local population in, say, CT [Cape Town], than to set off a leaflet bomb.6

People's War

As the liberation movement mounted its offensive in the 1980s, a number of tactical questions came to the fore. One innovation in this regard was the development of the concept of "people's war" thanks to the ANC's Politico-Military Strategy Commission which came up with the famous Green Book: Thesis on our Strategic Line which argued that "the armed struggle must be based on, and grow out of, mass political support and it must eventually involve all our people". Eventually, thanks to the Kwabe ANC conference of June 1985 which revised the thesis of classical guerilla warfare launched from the rural areas, the ANC's new perspective came to be based on the belief that the organsation "should step up the all-round political and military offensive sharply, and prepare for protracted people's war. A general insurrection was seen [by the ANC] as theological culmination of this struggle." 7

But the ANC had to deal with another phenomenon. In 1981 a network of apartheid spies was uncovered, and subsequently a number of cadres were arrested. However, as the ANC was to acknowledge later, some of the organisation's security personnel resorted to the abuse of prisoners in their effort to extract infor­mation from the alleged spies. This caused serious problems with­in the exile community. The Party's response was two-fold: the first was to take internal security measures that included developing security guidelines for the members, and revisiting communication codes. At the second level, the Party took a political position on the matter, including the treatment of prisoners. The Party warned against the "movement" being "panicked into a wild and ground­less witch-hunt against innocent members", and "felt that it is the duty of the Party to ensure that those who are used for interrogation purposes do not unnecessarily adopt methods which under­mine revolutionary morality". 8 These new security concerns were to be deliberated upon at the Party's 6th Congress.

As the Party's exile structures stabilised, with the number of regions and units growing, it no longer made sense to convene augmented CC meetings as a forum for contact with the membership and the election of the new leadership. Thus the 6th Congress (the 5th was in 1962), conceived initially as an "augmented" meeting, was convened in Moscow to deliberate, in particular, on the Party constitution, the approach to "people's war", and the relevance of the Road to South African Freedom as a programme.

The organisation of the 6th Congress was necessitated not only by the shift to "people's war", but also by the fact that, following the Vaal uprising of September 1984 in the country, the apartheid regime was faced with one of its most serious crises ever, and this deepened even further with the emergence of the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) in the form of the United Democratic Front and COSATU.

Finally, there is no doubt that the Party wanted to use the 6th Congress to prepare for the ANC's Kwabe (Zambia) conference scheduled to take place in June 1985. It was at the Kwabe conference that non-African groups were allowed to stand for leadership positions in the ANC. The Party, in anticipation of this decision, had taken a view that:

The revolution must move forward on a realistic basis. It should also be borne in mind that the African majority group in our country suffers vicious national oppression and that the natural desire for national resurgence expressed in their own organization and leadership of the struggle for democracy is something we support in principle. This has to be placed alongside the equally important principle that the interests of oppressed national minorities and of revolutionary forces are fully recognized. We communists are not national nihilists. But we insist that national aspirations should be democratic and progressive. [Thus] ...we are convinced that the time has come for a big step forwards that can result in a qualitative change in the relations between revolutionary organizations with the resultant increase in the mobilizing power and effectiveness of the liberation struggle. 9

Attendance at the 6th Congress was initially set at 35, including both delegates and CC members, but was later amended. Representation by region was as follows: two delegates for Dar es Salaam; one for Zimbabwe; one for Botswana; four for Lusaka; one for Swaziland; one for Mozambique; one for Lesotho; three for London; and three for Angola. Indeed, representation of regions reflected the uneven strength of the Party. Lusaka, with the highest number of delegates, had the highest concentration of CC members in Africa because of the location of the ANC head­quarters there, and even had its own Party school. This factor placed the region in a much better position, and was probably one of the best organised regions. London, the oldest region, was also numerically strong in terms of membership; and Angola was where the MK camps were located.

As expected, the 6th Congress focused on organisational and ideological matters. Among the most dominant debates was the notion of "people's war". As shown above, by the 1980s, with the experience of the 1960s and 1970s, it had become clear to the liberation movement that the success of the struggle against apartheid lay in rooting the "war" among the "people"; and that guerilla warfare in South Africa would have to be conducted under "unclassical" conditions. The 6th Congress, thanks to the new constitution, also laid to rest the contradictory definition of the Party's understanding of its vanguard role. While the constitution's preamble, under "Aims", reaffirmed that the SACP "is a leading political force of the South African working class and is the vanguard in the struggle for national liberation, socialism and peace in our time", this is however qualified later under the same section: the Party was "to participate in and strengthen the liberation alliance of all classes and strata whose interests are served by the immediate aims of the national democratic revolution. This alliance is expressed through the liberation front headed by the ANC." 10 The 6th Congress also expressed concern about criticism of the Colonialism of a Special Type thesis and the so-called two-stage theory by what was regarded as a Trotskyite grouping, and in this regard, between the 6th Congress and the 7th Congress (held in April 1989), the Party's propaganda organs, especially the African Communist, were to concentrate on this debate.

Organisational matters centred around discussion on the new constitution and the workings of the CC and other Party structures. For the first time in exile, the Party, in adopting a constitution, formalised its structures and developed a recruitment policy based on the system of probation. A congress, to be organised every fours years, was also introduced. Furthermore, now that the challenge of establishing regions and units had been realised, efforts were re-directed into improving the quality of the operations of these Party structures. For example, some delegates raised concerns about the effectiveness of both the PB and CC: "It appears that the PB seldom meets, and the CC is simply a prestige organ". As to the units, an observation was made that they "tend to think that they are a 'talking shop'; (hey ought to be functional and CC should pay attention to the structure of the units".11 Nonetheless, Slovo, who had been acting chairperson since January 1984 following (he death of Dadoo in 1983, was elected to that position, with Mabhida retaining his position as general secretary. Mabhida was to fall ill soon after the Congress, and spent most of the time thereafter in and out of hospital until his death in March 1986.

Following the 6th Congress, the PB, given new challenges, established subcommittees based on the following areas: propaganda; education, research and training; industrial work; internal reconstruction; work in mass organisations; military affairs; international work; and security and intelligence. Because of increased security concerns, the CC, at its meeting in 1985, adopted a policy on the "imposition of maximum sentence" at the instruction of the 6th Congress, and established a three-person tribunal which was accountable to the PB. Subsequently, in September 1985, the CC issued a circular to regions and units on "Security Measures to be Taken".12

The formalisation of a cadre policy in the constitution that was adopted at the 6th Congress, was an attempt to clear the confusion that existed on the matter. First of all, it must be pointed out that the Party's emphasis on cadre policy was consistent with what was practised by other communist parties. By and large, all communist parties were very clear about their ideological beliefs as well as their membership policy which included admission requirements such as probation, oath-taking and social status criteria. 13

The SACP's cadre policy came to be based on a number of important elements. First there was the system of probation, which had been part of the Party's history for decades, but which took a clearer shape in the 1980s. The 1984 constitution opened the Party to "all South Africans over the age of 18 who accept the programme and policy" of the Party. But recruitment was to be undertaken by regional committees: "the recruiting of a member requires the unanimous decision of a Regional Committee, or, where no such committee exists, of the Central Committee". Importantly, "the Central Committee shall from time to time lay down rules and regulations which oblige applicants for party membership, unless specially exempted, to serve a probationary period under the supervision of a Party structure prior to being accepted as full members".14 But the CC meeting of 1985 was to observe that "a great deal of confusion has arisen in connection with probation", 15 and eventually, the PB circulated an "Elaboration of Rules of Membership" in 1987 in the hope of addressing the confusion. Probation was to be for a period of six months, the probationer being supervised by one of the members so designated by the unit, and the latter was to send its recommendation to the regional committee for decision. However, con­fusion persisted, and another document, "Probation" had to be circulated by the PB in January 1988, with an illustration of how the probation system should work in practice.

The second element of the cadre policy was the requirement that "no member shall, without the permission of the CC, directly or indirectly pulge the facts of his or her membership to the Party or the identity of any other member to any unauthorized per son".16 This, linked to September 1981 CC resolution on "Party Work in Fraternal Organisations" which required Party members to account for their activities in the ANC, was a very complex issue and politically not without problems. Throughout the exile period the Party leadership tried to exercise control over their members and have them account for their activities in "fraternal" organisations such as the ANC.

However, some interpreted this stance to mean that the Party was a "caucus" within the liberation movement. Hence, in one of its meetings, the PB received a report from one of its regions that "it was felt that there is not sufficient accounting to the Party and that not enough Party directives are given in relation to fundamental questions... [O]ur Party must maintain its traditional approach of not undermining the integrity and independence of the ANC and that it would be wrong for the Party to act as a caucus on every issue which arises in the fraternal organization. Nevertheless it is the duty of the Party to give guidance on major - fundamental questions of political principle." 17 Not surprisingly, the Lusaka Region, in its report of August 1982 to the PB, noted that "our Party life in exile, and the stunted style of work to which we have become accustomed, has resulted in", among other things, "the development of conspiratorial characteristics in our style of work" not least because of "our reluctance to show our Party face to other members of the family [the liberation movement]".18

Indeed, getting Party members to account for their work in the ANC was not that easy. For example, the Lusaka Regional Committee, in its circular of 1 January 1983, called on its mem­bers: "In keeping with previous directives from the CC, the Regional Committee would like to have reports from units on the activities of members in the various sectors in which they are work­ing. The PB remarks that there are serious weaknesses in the work of members in the NLM [national liberation movement], such as an absence of leadership by Party units on important questions of our revolution...."19

Thirdly, a Party member was entitled to participate in decision-making within the framework of democratic centralism. Thus documents prepared for major gatherings such as congresses were circulated to regions and units for comments, as were discussion documents which were developed on major themes preoccupy­ing the liberation movement. An Inner-Party Bulletin was also introduced in the 1970s to "strengthen the political and organi­zational unity and cohesion of the Party as a whole, to rally the rank-and-file around the leadership, and draw the leadership into closer contact with the rank-and-file, and to improve the effectiveness of the political activity of Party members". The Bulletin, as a political organ, "must be of an inner-party character, neither intended nor allowed to be seen by non-members, nor quoted or published" [emphasis in the original]; therefore "the distribution of the bulletin would have to be organized in accordance with the principle of conspiracy". 20 Thus issues of the Bulletin carried a clear directive: "Regions and Units must ensure that this Bulletin does not circulate to any person who is not a Party member"; or "every copy of this issue must be accounted for and returned to the respective regions after study and comments". However, the production of the Bulletin was not as regular as the leadership would have wanted.

In addition, Party members were required to undertake contin­uous political and ideological training. Units were important in this regard, and so were some regions such as Lusaka and Angola, which conducted their own political schools. However, more pres­tigious was the Lenin School in the former USSR. On their return from the Lenin School, the graduates were deployed in various structures of the Party and the liberation movement as a whole. With its membership growing, in the 1980s the Party was offered a quota by the School; but the PB decided, as part of the development of the probation system, that "only comrades who have already been tested in the Party and in the struggle should be con­sidered" for the School. 21 So important was political education at the School that in May 1984 the PB decided to send four CC members there for refresher courses. Cuba also became an impor­tant centre in the 1980s, not least because of the one to three-year courses that it was offering to Party members.

Moreover, by the 1980s, the Party leadership, through the PB and the Secretariat, had devised a system of monitoring and keeping track of the movement of Party members in exile. Permission was sometimes even sought from the PB for movement elsewhere in exile. Finally, subscription fees for members were also an important element, especially in regions where a significant component of the membership had the means of generating their own income. For example, the London Committee could report in May 1972 that "we have £500 available from our collection of subscriptions". 22 Similarly, in 1981, the region in Lesotho had a subscription policy based on 1 % of a member's earnings. But this was not easy to implement, in 1985 the CC even appealing to its members:

It is important that payment of such dues be seen by our mem­bers not only as a means for the Party to raise funds for the work that it has to do but also as an act of political commitment and dedication... We therefore urge all regions to examine the rule and rates of dues imposed upon membership in their respective regions. We are mindful that there are many cases where the membership is unable to pay any regular subscription. On the other hand we have members who are in full-time employment, we therefore urge that when regions look into this question they should consider the possibility of imposing flexible scales which take into account the ability of each comrade to make the necessary financial contribution. 23

All in all, therefore, these developments in the consolidation of the Party's cadre policy were necessitated not only by the quantitative growth in membership, but also by generational shifts in the total composition of the membership as more and more youth joined the Party.

The relations with labour, both in the form of SACTU and trade union formations that had emerged inside the country since the 1970s, became one of the Party's main themes for the 1980s, the CC even circulating a discussion document "The Party and the Trade Unions". An Industrial Sub-Committee (ISC), a structure established by the PB in the 1970s, was the entity responsible for the work. Since its inception, the ISC focused on giving leadership to SACTU, even meeting with the latter probably for the first time in December 1979. In June the following year, the meeting between the PB and the ISC which developed guidelines for Party work in the trade union sector in the country, resolved to "build a powerful revolutionary trade union movement and charged those organs and cadres of the Party specifically charged with trade union organization to make significant progress in this central front of our struggle". 24 Thus in May 1983, an extended PB meeting including ISC members was convened to deliberate on the subject, including the direction that trade unions in the country should take. Subsequently, more attention was given to SACTU with the aim of repositioning it for the internal union work, including making contacts with unionists inside the country. As trade union work inside the country gained momentum thanks to the for­mation of COSATU in 1985 and contacts made with trade unionists, another extended PB meeting was convened in May 1987 to focus on these developments and what was seen as the ineffectiveness of SACTU in this field. Of course, COSATU gained prominence, putting the role of SACTU into question, and thus the CC circulated, in August 1988, a discussion paper on "The Role of SACTU in the National Democratic Struggle". The view of the Party leadership was that SACTU still had a role to play as "a liberation arm in the trade union movement".

On the international front, two important developments were of particular significance. First, there were efforts by the Party to create a platform for cooperation with like-minded parties based in eleven African countries - Angola, Benin, Congo (Brazzaville), Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Lesotho, Reunion, Senegal and Sudan. The process began in 1979, and gained momentum in 1981 when representatives of the twelve parties, including the SACP, met in Berlin and decided to create an International Preparatory Committee, chaired by Dadoo, to organise a summit where the parties would deliberate on the ideological and organisational framework for co-operation in their struggle for socialism on the continent. However, there were delays and setbacks, with the "summit", on a much smaller scale than initially envisaged, only taking place in May 1988, and adopting a programme for co-operation. 25

Secondly, as the SACP had sided with the CPSU in the Sino-Soviet dispute, towards the end of 1982 the Communist Party of China approached the Party: "The CPC wishes to set up and restore Party to Party relations on the basis of equality, autonomy, mutual respect and non-interference in each other's affairs... We would propose that the SACP consider ending all public attacks on the CPC in order that this may create a favourable atmosphere for the restoration of relations". The SACP agreed: "In principle we agree that both Parties must work towards creating a climate in which there can be a restoration of relations between the two Parties... As part of this process we also agree that both Parties must cease, directly or indirectly, from engaging in any public attacks on one another". 26 Communication between the two Parties continued, the Party consulting the Communist Party of the Soviet Union early in 1983. The process of the restoration of the relations subsequently gained momentum, and a delegation of the SACP was even invited to China in September 1986. The following year, the CPC gave the SACP US $9 000 for the purchase of two vehicles.

The period following the 6th Congress witnessed further growth in the Party both in terms of membership and profile. While Party structures had collapsed m Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique after the mid-1980s due to an increase in the activity of apartheid security forces in those countries, combined with deportations and the Nkomati Accord (in the case of Mozambique), the Party experienced growth in other areas, and a new region was even established in Zimbabwe. Thanks to the heightening of the struggle inside the country and the increased in the inflow or cadreship into the exile community, the number of members and units increased from 241 in 40 units in November 1986 to 267 in 45 units in November 1987 By the time of the 7th Congress, in April 1989, the Party could boast of 340 members distributed in 48 units that were located in eight regions: London, Lusaka, Angola, Swaziland, Mozambique, Dar es Salaam, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Lusaka, with 67 members and 10 units, was still the largest region, followed by Angola with 59 members and 11 units, and London with 45 members and four units. Botswana and Dar es Salaam, both with 18 members, were among the medium-sized regions. While the average size of regional committees ranged between three to six members, that of units varied from three in medium-sized regions such as Dar es Salaam, to about eight in larger regions such as Angola.

The breakdown of the 340 members was as follows: 84% male and 16% female; 60% above the age of 35; and 70% African as opposed to 16% whites, 10% Indian, and 4% Coloured. In addition to the 340 members, there were 53 "unaccounted members", 66 probationers, twelve who were in prison, and some 23 were either on mission abroad or students at the Lenin School. Therefore, this figure of about 494 members of the Party in 1989 in exile is far below the 5 000 suggested by Tom Lodge and others. 27

The membership of the Party in exile was deliberately kept small not just for reasons of security and quality of cadres, but also to enable the leadership to exercise control over the membership. In fact, the PB, in the face of this substantial growth of the Party from the mid-1980s, was to express a concern in 1989 whether the recruitment "has not been too fast". 28

As to the workings of the PB and the CC, these also experienced improvement in the period after the mid-1980s. The meetings of the PB became more regular - the structure met on average every three weeks, as opposed to meeting only every three or four months as was the case before the 6th Congress. By the time of the 7th Congress in April 1989, the PB had met 76 times since the 6th Congress, with the CC meeting thrice during the same period. Furthermore, with the influx of the internal leader­ship and the youth into exile, the CC, in its meeting of 1986, co-opted six members but without voting rights, in order to accommodate the latter two sectors. Since "the anonymity of most Party leaders continues to be a serious obstacle to Party organization and to our political impact", the "gradual exposure" of six CC members was effected from December 1985 (up to then only the general secretary and the chairperson were known publicly), thanks to the decision of the 6th Congress. 29 The purpose of this move was not only to maintain the profile of the Party, but also because of the need for day-today contact with regions and their units. Related to this, was the intensification of the practice introduced by Mabhida of regularly visiting regions and units. When Slovo became the chairperson, he also joined in this practice.

The underground was also growing. Thanks to the hard work of the internal sub-committee and other related structures as well as the legacy of the hard work discussed in Chapter Two, by the end of 1988, the Party had functioning structures in the Western Cape, Transvaal, the Border region in the Eastern Cape, and Natal; with 99 members in 35 units, and 19 probationers. The racial breakdown (in terms of numbers) of members was 55 Africans, 20 Indians, 13 Coloureds and 11 whites. Therefore, in total, including the 494 based in exile, the Party had about 609 members at the time of the 7th Congress in April 1989. However, there was still no effective Party presence in the Free State because "one comrade was given the task to begin [Party work in the province] but apparently moved over to the enemy". 30 The Western Cape was the most advanced of all Party underground structures, having established its district in 1985 with its full-time organiser earning a monthly allowance of R250, but it was still faced with an equally important challenge: "Even at its height this region was underrepresented in the African townships". 31 The membership of units in the Border and Transvaal areas was drawn largely from the trade union leadership and factory-based workers in those areas. Indeed, these underground outfits focused their work on propaganda, "interventions" in the trade union and the mass democratic movement, and intelligence and security matters. None of them played a combat role, at least inasfar as their Party brief was concerned.

Nor was the contribution of regions the same with regard to internal work. The degree of involvement in internal work by regions varied from Zimbabwe which was making an "outstanding contribution", through Botswana, Mozambique and Swaziland which were "doing very little in relation to internal work", to London which was making a good contribution on matters of propaganda "but disappointing in organizational field in relation to the potential which exists in this area". According to the PB, the region had great potential even though "no single unit [had been] created by this region" by the end of 1988, and this was "completely insupportable and unacceptable". 32

Besides expanding the underground structures, the Party was also interacting intimately with the MDM structures based in the country, notably the UDF and COSATU, especially from 1986. In fact, between May 1986 and January 1987, at least two "formal" meetings were held with COSATU representatives. Parallel to this trend, at least from 1985, the PB started deliberating on "talks" and the possibilities of reaching a negotiated settlement in the country. This development was partly a response to meetings that certain sections of South Africa's white community were hold­ing with the ANC leadership.

As to relations with the ANC, these reached a new level in the period post the mid-1980s, thanks to the institution of the practice of regularised meetings between the two organisations. By 1985, the concept of "tripartite" alliance - involving the ANC, SACP and SACTU - had entered the vocabulary of the liberation movement. Between the 6th Congress and September 1985, at least two formal tripartite meetings sat, and this figure increased to eight by the time of the 7th Congress in April 1989. 33 However, caution was still needed in the management of the relations between the two organisations. For example, at one PB meeting in December 1984, a concern was raised that "we should be careful how we launch the new phase aimed at seeing that our Party functions and that in doing so the Party should avoid beginning to present itself as a leader of the current stage of the revolution; that we understand the phase we are in and that we keep a balance which will ensure that both [the] Party and [the] ANC grow stronger". 34 Tambo was still central to the management of relations between the two organisations, even developing a practice of approving the list of Party members being sent to the Lenin School.

However, a resolution which was to be adopted by the 7th Congress on the "alliance", reflected weaknesses in the relation­ship between the two organisations that still needed attention. The resolution centred on the representation of the Party at meetings held between the ANC and SACTU and the MDM; the need for more regular and frequent Alliance meetings; and on the need to "ensure that members of the tripartite Alliance share information about their programmes and problems". 35

The management of Party finances was also improving, thanks to the establishment of a Finance Committee - a structure which was also incorporated into the 1984 constitution. With the annu­al allocation from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union having increased to US $ 100 000 by the end of the 1980s and the Party headquarters now based in Africa, more transparency became necessary. Not only was the functioning of the Finance Committee to be improved, but also, as part of preparations for the 7th Congress, a Finance Administrator was to be appointed to attend to the "day to day finance matters and proper recording of financial matters". Furthermore, "all foreign currency funds should be sent to London bank account so that they can give us profit, and only 40 000 US Dollars should remain in our bank vaults in Lusaka". 36 A sum of US $5 500 from these funds was to be used for the travel allowance and airport tax for delegates to the 7th Congress.