A state of exile : the ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe in Angola, 1976- 1989.
After its banning in 1961 the ANC, together with the South African Communist Party, adopted the armed struggle. Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) was formed and had its debut in December of the same year. When the MK command was arrested at Rivonia outside Johannesburg most of the remaining members went into exile. The banning of the ANC forced the members not just to go underground but also to go into exile and their first haven was the newly independent Tanzania. The 1960's witnessed the flight into exile of most members of the organisation. In Tanzania, members of the ANC and MK came into contact with members of other liberation movements, including the liberation movements [Tom Portuguese Africa. As the 1960's progressed MK was responsible for training recruits in various African countries, most notably in Tanzania and Zambia. In 1967 they launched their first major campaign, together with the Zimbabwe People's Union (ZAPU), into southern Rhodesia in an effort to reach South Africa. The campaign failed and several members were put in prison in Bechuanaland. On their release some of the cadres, amongst them Chris Hani, voiced criticism of the leadership. This criticism was expressed just as the leaders of the organisation gathered for their first major conference in exile, the Morogoro conference in Tanzania At Morogoro the emphasis on armed struggle was affirmed, and it was agreed that the other pillar supporting the struggle would be international relations. After the Morogoro conference MK continued to train recruits in Zambia and Tanzania, but the situation was increasingly difficult as internal problems in these countries led to the expulsion of several liberation movements. In 1974 a new wave of South Africans went into exile, and at the same time the liberation war in Portuguese Africa entered its last phase. When Angola became independent the ANC began negotiating with the new government about the possible establishment of new training facilities for MK in Angola. When the students of Soweto went into revolt, reacting against the introduction of Afrikaans as the main language in their schools, the ANC, the MK command and their rivals the PAC were taken aback. The first wave of new recruits was flown to Tanzania before they were re-routed to Luanda In Angola they were sent to the southern parts of the country, to Benguela and later to Nova Katengue. By 1979 nine camps had been established in Angola: there was a transit camp outside Luanda, and camps at Benguela, Nova Katengue, Gabela, Fazenda, Quibaxe, Pango, Camp 32 (Quatro) and Funda The main camp was Nova Katengue. The camp got the nickname of University of the South because of the emphasis there on ideological, political and academic courses. But one episode of attempted food poisoning and later the bombing by the South African Air Force focused attention on the need for internal security in the camps, and a Security Department took shape in the region. After the bombing which left Nova Katengue flattened to the ground, MK left their southern camps; a series of meetings took place in Luanda which resulted in a revised strategy outlined in "the Green Book". In 1979 MK participated in a second campaign together with ZAPU; as the attempt to reach South Africa was once again unsuccessful most of the participants found themselves back in the Angolan camps. This failure, together with the degrading conditions in which the cadres were living, fuelled a spiral of discontent in the camps. The food was sparse and the sanitary conditions were bad. A feeling of stagnation spread among the cadres, who were disillusioned at the bleak prospect of infiltrating back into South Africa. In the beginning of the 1980's the roads between Luanda and the eastern camps around Malanje, Caculama and Camalundi became unsafe as the South African-backed UNITA guerrillas increased their attacks. MK forces were deployed around the town of Cacuso to guard the railway line and secure the safety of the road, and this deployment aggravated the dissatisfaction of the cadres. At the end of 1983 some members of the security department beat a sick cadre to death. This triggered off a mutiny in some of the camps. The leadership defused this, the first in a series of mutinies. In 1984 a second mutiny took place in Viana The mutineers elected a Committee of Ten to forward a set of demands to the leadership. But the leadership was not ready to listen and the Angolan presidential guard quelled the mutiny. When a third mutiny erupted in Pango three months later no demands were made and no committee was elected, but the Pango mutiny was more violent. After the disturbances at Viana but before the Pango mutiny, a commission had been sent out from Lusaka to find the reasons for the uprising. The commission found that the main reasons were the deteriorating living conditions, the lack of proper health services and the deployment on the eastern front. Later reports came to similar conclusions regarding the reasons for the mutiny. However, the reports differ regarding the degree of punishment used in the region after the mutinies. The Committee of Ten was imprisoned after the mutinies. However preparations were made to meet their main demand, which had been for the calling of a national consultative conference and in 1985 the Kabwe conference took place in Zambia. Some restructuring of the organisation and army took place and the much criticised Security Department was made accountable to the leadership. Life in the Angolan camps continued much as before but efforts were made to provide some vocational training and better health services. The deployment on the eastern front came to an end, but soon MK came under attack on the roads between Luanda and their northern camps. The attacks intensified as other forces in Angola gathered around the south central town of Cuito Cuanavale, and eventually the siege of Cuito Cuanavale forced the South African regime to the negotiating table. After the siege the Namibia Agreement was signed. One of the terms of the agreement was that MK had to leave Angola and search for new havens, and in 1989 and 1990 most of the cadres were flown to Uganda.
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