Question: Your guerrillas recently blew up fuel tanks at South Africa`s oil-from-coal processing plant at Sasolburg, and there have been attacks on police stations and a bank. Does this mean that South Africa faces an escalating urban guerrilla-warfare programme by the African National Congress?
TAMBO: I`m afraid so. That is not merely a decision by the ANC. It is dictated by the expectations of the people.
Q: Do you believe violence is the only alternative left to achieve a solution to the problems of South Africa?
TAMBO: This question is always put wrongly because it places the onus on us. We are reacting to a violent system. The South African Government uses repressive methods that are violent all the time. So what are our people expected to do? The real alternative is the acceptance of the just demands of the majority of the people of South Africa for a social system which is based on a recognition of their humanity.
Q: Do you really believe you can overcome South Africa`s military and police strength?
TAMBO: Yes, because it does not depend on our having to stand face to face with their armoured divisions. One of the reasons why we will succeed is because they find it almost impossible to believe that the black man can be efficient, that he can be a good fighter, that he can plan, that he can be courageous. The white population is duped into thinking we are bobbejaans (baboons). But that means the whites are in for a particularly rude shock. Our people are organising all over South Africa, and getting better all the time.
Q: Is it your people who are responsible for the latest unrest?
TAMBO: Not all the time. It does not take a political agitator to resist police brutality and injustice.
Q: You have probably read about the shifts away from apartheid in recent months and about the promises that were made by Prime Minister Pieter Botha. Do you look upon these as encouraging?
TAMBO: No. We are no longer asking for slight shifts in the official forms of domination by the white minority. We have travelled far beyond that point. These shifts would have been meaningful twenty years ago. Look what has been happening in Africa, where Zimbabwe and Mozambique have emerged as nations where control is exercised by all the citizens, black and white. In South Africa, the government is still playing around with what is called petty apartheid. If Prime Minister Botha means well, he has come too late in the day. What is happening in South Africa is too late and too little. Botha persists in the basic concept of racism and apartheid. The whole structure remains absolutely intact. There is no real shift, no real change, and the things that are happening do not affect our people.
Q: What do you think of the new constitution that is to be introduced in South Africa providing for Coloureds and Asians to sit with whites on a President`s council, assisted by an advisory council representing the urban blacks?
TAMBO: It is not acceptable because the majority of the people of South Africa are left out of it. It is not a constitution that includes the people of South Africa as a whole. It has all the features of racism and apartheid. It is designed to maintain the status quo and keep power in the hands of the white minority - to the total exclusion of the blacks. We reject it completely.
Q: Would you be favourably disposed toward a federal-type policy for South Africa?
TAMBO: It, too, would be structured on the artificial racial groupings which have been created. So its basis would be racist. We are working for a unitary system. People must be discouraged from thinking tribally, ethnically and racially.
Q: Would your unitary system for South Africa be a Marxist one?
TAMBO: The power should derive from the people as a whole. They should then use that power to create the kind of South Africa they want. They must ensure that there is an equitable distribution of the wealth, which we will produce together.
Q: But that does not answer my question. The African National Congress is comprised at least partly of Communists and is backed by the Soviet Union. Do you envisage a Marxist society? Or would it resemble any other black State on this continent that you could point to?
TAMBO: I don`t think it has to resemble any other country. I think it must base itself on the history of South Africa, the present nature of South African society, the experience of the people of South Africa. We must take all of this into account and decide what is best for the whole country. Let us take Zimbabwe. What can we say is the system in Zimbabwe today? Is it Marxist? Is it capitalist? Is it African socialism? I think the Zimbabweans are trying to sort it out. They are taking everything into account - the fears of the whites, the needs of the poor and despised, the need to develop the economy. I don`t know if there is anybody who is able to characterise the current social system. Before they took power, the leaders had certain theories of what they would do when in power. But when they did take power, they had to face up to certain realities. That is the way it would be in South Africa.
Q: Are you anticipating that the South African Government will eventually come to terms with your organisation?
TAMBO: Yes. The ANC is the national body, therefore it represents the majority of the people.
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