Since the banning of the African National Congress on April, 1960, three conferences which were in the nature of general consultations have been held by the A.N.C.
The first of these was held at Lobatsi in October 1962 and was attended by representatives from all over South Africa and from abroad. Its object was to consider the measures which required to be taken to give a new impetus to organisational work in pursuance of the decision to make preparations for armed revolutionary struggle.
The Lobatsi conference was followed three years later by a consultation conference held in Morogoro at the end of May 1965. This was an enlarged meeting of the NEC as constituted abroad following the imprisonment of the leadership at home. Additional to the NEC members were senior leading Army personnel. It followed the pattern of External Mission consultative meetings previously held, when representatives from the various offices were called to Dar to discuss and decide on issues relating to our work. The purpose of this conference was to review our political situation, set new tasks and improve our machinery for vigorously pursuing the objectives of our struggle, including in particular, the movement of Umkhonto units to the home front.
The third ANC consultation meeting was held in Dar at the end of November 1966, and was attended, in addition to NEC members, by members of the fraternal organisations in the South African Liberation Movement who were invited to participate in a joint discussion of the role and status of the exiled members of these organisations in the dual task of mobilising the masses at home in preparation for the armed struggle and building up international solidarity in support of our cause.
Momentous events have occurred since the Morogoro meeting. We have also gone through tremendous trials and difficulties. But on balance, and despite the intensive propaganda of the enemy and his agents, there is no doubt that the prestige of the ANC both at home and in the world at large has never been higher. For the first time since the final defeat of the African people in 1879 the nucleus of a people`s army has been created which has already performed historic deeds in Zimbabwe in direct confrontation with the forces of White supremacy. The general political line of the movement is clear and consistent. The alliance of the people of Zimbabwe and of South Africa which brings together over twenty million people is steadily being consolidated. A unity among the movements fighting Portuguese colonialism and racist White minority regimes in Southern Africa has opened up possibilities of a coordinated armed struggle. The enemy has lost the strategic initiative and is reacting to the plans and actions of the liberation movements.
The forthcoming conference, like the previous three, is also consultative in nature. But unlike these, it convenes at a time when the first volleys of armed conflict have been fired, with telling effect on the enemy, by the combined and heroic forces of the ZAPU/ANC alliance. It cannot, therefore, be regarded as merely another conference. It must give a lasting and effective reply to the great challenge that confronts our movement; it must evolve a more dynamic organisational machinery capable of mounting a sustained and successful offensive against the enemy.
In its composition, the conference combines the characteristics of the 1965 and 1966 conferences, and brings together militants who constitute the entire spectrum of the progressive and revolutionary forces within our movement, for a down-to-earth appraisal of every aspect of our liberation struggle as led by the African National Congress. The conference differs from previous consultations not only in its size, which will be swelled by the vastly increased youth contingent drawn mainly from the Army and students, but also in the large-scale pre-conference discussions now taking place at all levels in all our centres, which can be of tremendous value in guaranteeing a solid basis for our future work. But in the absence of thorough pre‑conference work in the form of expert papers, objective analysis and discussion of issues & a relentless criticism of our work and formulation of proposals aimed at removing shortcomings and ensuring improvements, it will be impossible for the conference to produce fruitful results. The issues to be tackled are raised in a general report prepared by HQ which will serve as a Discussion Guide for all members of our liberation movement who can be reached.
The pre-conference discussions, criticism and recommendations are therefore vital for the success of the conference. AND THIS CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE MUST BE A RESOUNDING SUCCESS, for we are faced with a great challenge to overthrow the most powerful state in Africa and replace it with a democratic people`s state. To do this requires the total mobilisation of the millions of our people. Radical changes are required in our machinery and style of work to enable us to accomplish the tasks that lie ahead. This conference must fashion the instruments that will enable us to achieve a further spurt forward towards the great goals of our movement.