A Lesson From History: How Joe Slovo Defeated P.W. Botha


By now most South Africans who took part in the marches against Jacob Zuma on his birthday, probably realised that it had little effect. Zuma laughed it off and enjoyed his birthday with his (corrupt) family and friends.

So what went wrong?

Simple…A lack of proper planning, and of course…Semantics…People have not realised yet that “Peaceful Protest” does not mean the same as “Peaceful Procession”.

And that is what we saw. Peaceful marches, peaceful processions, but very little PROTEST.

Before the marches, the police warned people to not use violence. MK “veterans” pitched up to guard Luthuli House and threatened violence, and what did the people do? …They obeyed. Exactly what the dictator wanted.

Reality check: You can have all the marches and processions in the world, but as long as you “obey”, you are not going to get rid of the dictator.

“Protest” means disobedience and defiance. It means pushing the envelope, calling his bluff and mass provocation. It means presenting the dictator with a “dilemma” not a “problem”, because problems are solved easily, but “dilemmas” have two or more bad outcomes and no good ones.

What you want to do is to get him into the position where, if he does not use violence the protests will lead to his fall. If he uses violence, it will also lead to his fall.

He is stuffed, no matter which way he goes and you need to do this every day, escalating and getting stronger and stronger until he falls.

“Non-violence” does not mean “passive” and “non-aggressive”. It does not mean “quiet” and “subservient”.

“Protest” means, that when you knock on the door and at first it is not heard, you knock harder and louder and when that is not heard either you start ringing the bell and hammering the door with your fist and when that is not heard you start kicking the goddamn door down!

…And when you are asked or told not to, you disobey and defy and get even louder.

You are not violent; you are not hurting anyone, but you are defiant, disobedient, aggressive and loud…because if the dictator does not want to listen to the voice of reason that his time is up and that he needs to go, the people need to get nose-to-nose in his face and the message needs to be shouted into his ear until his eardrum is on the brink of bursting!

But it is early days. People will still learn. How they want to learn depends…They can either reinvent the wheel and learn from their mistakes or they can learn from history.

It took the ANC of old a long time to learn. 25-30 years in fact. Maybe it will do us good to take a look at that.

Myth: Non-Violent Protest Has Never Worked In Africa And Will Not Work In South Africa.

I hear this a lot. It is of course rubbish. Arab Spring case in point.

Nine years ago in 2008, two years before the Arab Spring, I wrote an article called: How will World War IV be fought? in which I predicted that that people will fight civil wars with social networks, laptops and cell phones. As usual I took a lot of flak and ridicule for my ideas. Then the Arab Spring came and people networked on Facebook and Twitter and executed a cyber Blitzkrieg. One after the other Tunisia, Egypt, Libya…all African countries…started to fall.

“But those are Arab countries. It is not South Africa”, the critics maintained.”Black and white won’t stand together in South Africa”, they said…

They already have. There is no better example than South Africa during the 1980’s and how Apartheid fell.

It is a myth that only blacks were against Apartheid. Hundreds of white academics, church leaders, journalists and artists were all against Apartheid and shaped the minds of the white populace to give up the fight.

First Mistake: The ANC Chooses Violence, Terrorism And Guerilla War

In the 1950’s seeing the Apartheid regime, standing as firm as a mountain of granite, through the eyes of a young black man like Nelson Mandela must have been very overwhelming. The possibility of ever overthrowing it probably seemed utterly hopeless and impossible.

Here you had a strong, developed first world country where everyone including blacks was upwardly mobile and enjoyed the highest living standards in the whole of Africa. Hardly a starving, bankrupt nation ripe for revolution.

You had the best, strongest and most motivated army as well as the most efficient, non-corrupt police force and security/intelligence agencies with the highest morale on the entire continent of Africa. On top of that you had a well armed civilian force…just about every white household had several firearms.

But then something happened.

New Year’s Day 1959 was a great day for the 40 year old Nelson Mandela. It filled him with a lot of hope for his people in South Africa. On that day the Cuban guerillas of the “26 July Army” under the Castro brothers Fidel and Raul and their mate Ché Guevara, finally forced the American puppet dictator Batista into exile and Castro turned Cuba into a Communist state on the doorstep of the USA.

Watching the smiling, victorious and cigar smoking Fidel Castro walking triumphantly through the streets of Havana, Mandela thought that THIS must be the way to go. An armed struggle, a guerilla war…for if Cuban guerillas could beat the mighty USA then surely the blacks in South Africa could beat the mighty Apartheid regime.

Mandela was not the only starry eyed Communist with delusions of grandeur at the time. Just about the entire SA Communist Party and the Black Nationalist ANC looked at the Cuban example and were convinced that a guerilla war was the only way to go, because for years they have looked for a solution of how to bring down the white Apartheid regime…

To these Communist revolutionaries in South Africa the Cuban example was the only way to go. So they abandoned peaceful means, formed Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and adopted a violent armed struggle…It was probably the biggest mistake they ever made.

The Outcomes Of The Armed Struggle

Problem was that nobody ever told the MK revolutionaries in the ANC that a guerilla war only had about a 26% chance of success. With peaceful protests you have a 53% chance. More than double the odds.

So within a few years they were all in jail. Several received death sentences for high treason and acts of terrorism. The rest were hunted down and neutralized by the security agencies and by the 1980’s the ANC leader, Oliver Tambo admitted that the ANC was defeated and a spent force. The ANC was reduced from a strong political movement with an armed wing to a mere fax machine in Dares Salaam.

The ANC was terribly disappointed. Where did it all go so horribly wrong for them?

According to them they did everything right…They had funding to the tune of millions of dollars every year, they received the best revolutionary training in the USSR, East Germany and even learned from the Cubans in Cuba themselves. They had tons of weapons, ammunition, hand grenades, land mines, RPG-7’s, etc. They could melt into the civilian masses in the South African townships. They had sympathetic neighboring countries where they could launch their insurgencies from. They had allies in the form of SWAPO (PLAN), the MPLA, ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe, Frelimo in Mozambique, etc…Basically the ANC was spoiled. They had EVERYTHING you need to run a successful guerilla war or armed struggle, yet they still failed…

Not only that. What did they achieve? All they succeeded in doing was to unite and strengthen the Apartheid regime and make the whites more resilient. The National Party was winning election after election.

By the 1980’s the South African Defence Force was arguably one of the strongest armies in the world with an extremely high level of morale who have by then become experts and world leaders in counter insurgency. Armies from Israel and the USA were learning from the South Africans and adopting their tactics and training methods.

Despite an arms embargo against them, the South Africans were not only producing their own weapons, but exporting them. They had the Ratel infantry vehicle, the Buffel and Caspirs…They had the G5 and G7 howitzers. Best in the world. The Rooivalk helicopter was being developed as well as the Cheetah fighter planes. The South Africans had nuclear weapons, tested ballistic missiles at De Hoop and had a space program run at Houwteq between the mountains near Grabouw in the Western Cape.

In Angola, the combined forces of the mighty Communist empire of the USSR, GDR and Cuba, along with all their puppets such as SWAPO and the MPLA were properly and convincingly defeated in battle after battle.

Second Mistake: The ANC Tries Their Hand At Violence A Bit Harder

Despite all the defeats and setbacks over many years, the hardcore MK revolutionaries in the ANC still had hopes of a military victory. They thought better training would do it so the guerillas were sent to the USSR, GDR and Cuba for the best training.

They thought better and more weapons would do the trick…so shiploads full of state of the art weapons such as SAM 7 missiles and T-62 tanks from Russia arrived in Luanda along with MIG 23 fighter jets, Mil Mi-24 helicopters and pilots from Cuba.

When the African Guerillas still proved unsuccessful, the Communist countries got personally involved and took charge. Russia had about 1500 elite soldiers and paratroopers as officers, trainers and consultants in Angola. The GDR about 3000. Cuba about 50,000. Nothing helped. Not even Castro taking charge personally.

So they thought the problem was with the logistics. The railroads were repaired and improved. Brand new General Electric diesel locomotives were bought (all blown up by the SA Recce’s). Roads and bridges were repaired and improved…all to no avail.

The Communists could not even defeat a tiny force of about 3000 committed South Africans on the Namibian/Angolan border. How were they ever going to take the whole of South Africa with an armed white citizenry of about five million?

People who have a fanatical fixation on violent means are hard to convince and often they have to learn the hard way, but by 1983 it must have been clear to even the simplest of Communist idiots that an armed struggle as they envisioned it…would NEVER succeed against South Africa. More than 20 years of armed struggle and terrorist bombs brought the communists absolutely NOTHING.

It was time for a rethink.

The Visit To Vietnam

During the time of the ANC’s armed struggle, another war was being fought by the West against communism…This time in Vietnam.

In the 1950’s during the First Indo China War, the communist nationals (Viet Minh) kicked the arses of their colonial masters, the French, including the mighty French Foreign Legion.

It culminated in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu which occurred in 1954 between Viet Minh forces under General Võ Nguyên Giáp and the French Union’s French Far East Expeditionary Corps. About 4000 French soldiers were killed in battle and about 8300 POW’s died during Vietnamese forced marches and hell camps.

The Americans thought they could do better and invaded South Vietnam between 1960 and 1965…about the same time that Mandela was on trial for terrorism in South Africa.

In the minds of the Americans Vietnam was the domino that could not fall, because if it did the whole world would fall like dominoes to Communism. Today we know the results. 800,000 Western Allies, including 60,000 American soldiers, died.

By 1975 the Americans left Vietnam with their tails between their legs. Despite winning almost every battle, they lost the war. The domino eventually did fall. Ho Chi Minh and General Võ Nguyên Giáp had defeated the mighty USA. How did they do it?

In 1978 the ANC decided that if there was anybody to learn from then it was this man, General Võ Nguyên Giáp and his president, Ho Chi Minh. So with the funding from the USSR they set out to visit Vietnam. Over the next five years between 1978 and 1983 the ANC paid several visits to Vietnam and learned the strategy of “People’s War”.

Having learned the hard way that violence seldom has the desired effect, they were forced to keep an open mind, shut the hell up and listen.

It must have been very hard for blacks with a warrior mindset and culture to adopt strategies of non-violence. It was against all their instincts and even affected and threatened their manhood. In their culture the physically strongest dominate. Men make war! The strongest warrior is king. They had no time and place for this war of the coward. In their culture the warrior gets in the face of the other warrior, he doesn’t strike like a coward.

What The ANC Learnt About “People’s War”

Slowly they learned. The Vietnamese told them that for every dollar they had, only 20 cents were spent on the physical war and weapons in the jungle; 80 cents were spent on the war at home in the USA.

The Vietnamese told them that the guerillas in the jungle were not there to fight the war; they were just there to create the ILLUSION of a war; to draw and tap resources of the enemy. It was a deception. The goal was not to win, but to prolong the war. It only chucked sand in the eyes of the American generals, politicians and public.

The real war was taking place in the USA in the minds of the US citizens. In People’s War the real soldiers are not crew cut marines who wear camouflage uniforms, flak jackets and M16’s; they have long hair laced with flowers, they wear jeans, T shirts and a Peace Sign around their necks.

They don’t march through the jungles of Vietnam, they march through the concrete jungles of Washington DC and San Francisco. They don’t carry the Stars and Stripes; they burn it…and carry banners and signs of peace. They don’t sing the “Star spangled banner”; they sing “Imagine”, “Blowing in the wind” and “Give peace a chance”…They don’t salute each other with a military salute; they give the peace sign salute…They don’t show in the media how strong their own soldiers are; they show how strong and brutal the enemy soldiers are.

The Principles Of War

It doesn’t matter whether you are in a one-on-one Ju Jitsu fight or making war on a grand scale, the principles of battle are quite simple and universal.

There are several ways to defeat your opponent. If you are not strong enough to physically overpower him, you must find a way for him to give up the fight. He must lose his “will to fight”.

Ultimately you target the mind of your opponent. It is in the mind that the will to fight is lost and the opponent gives up the fight.

The soldier’s strong mind is only as strong as his weakest link, which are often his own emotions.

His mind can be strong enough to kill an enemy soldier, but he is still a human being who has loved ones he believes he is fighting for. To keep on fighting he needs their support, but when his girlfriend, his mother and his little sister tell him to stop fighting, he will consider it. When they turn their backs on him for fighting, he will doubt his reasons for carrying on fighting or the sense of it all. When they join the enemy in the fight against him, he will stop fighting, because he is not going to kill his own loved ones. No amount of order, threats or incentives from the best general is going to make him carry on the fight.

How To Beat Your Opponent

You don’t need to physically beat him. You only need to take away his support. You conquer his mind and make him give up the fight.

You use cunning, deception, guilt and his own strength against him. You find out what his weakest link is and concentrate your strengths and attack his weaknesses. You take him from a place of his familiarity to a place of your familiarity.

Violent means by using tools such as bullets, bombs swords and knives are all quick and efficient ways to ultimately shut the brain down…but they are by far not the only means. Besides they are expensive, require manpower and training.

Of course there is a place and a time for violence too. Sometimes only violence can stop violence. When you are attacked by an irrational drug addict or a drunken bar brawler, it becomes extremely difficult to convince his mind to give up the fight. Therefore violence is sometimes necessary.

If the person is physically much stronger, aggressive and wielding a weapon, you might even have to kill him to get him to stop. For the rest…there is always a gentler way, because ultimately what you want to do is make his mind give up the will to fight. You can shut his brain down with a bullet, starve it of oxygen with a rear naked choke or use hundreds of other means, but ultimately it comes back to the same thing. His mind gives up the will to fight.

Think about the general in battle. You either defeat him by killing him personally, or isolating him from his support by cutting his supplies and communications to his men, killing his men or getting his men to run away and abandon him. Like the King in chess, he is defeated when he has no support, isolated and gives up the will to fight.

The ANC Forced To Rethink Their Strategy

By 1983 the ANC planted the Church street bomb. What did it achieve? It hardened the Apartheid regime of P.W. Botha some more and a major crackdown on ANC bases abroad was started.

At the same time, Botha consolidated the powers of prime minister and State president and became an executive president…a powerful dictator with nuclear abilities and commander in chief of the strongest army on the continent. He must have felt invincible.

In 1984 the ANC was frustrated and still not convinced about peaceful means. There was a strong increase in political violence and the assassination of black political opponents in Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). This led to retaliations and the Apartheid regime training and equipping Inkatha which was run by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi of the Zulu people.

By 1985 the main strategists in the ANC, like Oliver Tambo and the former SACP leader Joe Slovo, a South African lawyer who held the rank of colonel in the KGB, were forced to face reality…they have wasted 25 years on a useless armed struggle.

There had to be another way.

Joe Slovo went back to his books such as “People’s War; People’s Army” by General Giap and “The great spring offensive” by General Nguyen Thong.

The Penny Finally Drops

It was then that Joe Slovo sat down at a table with a piece of paper and drew a red line across it. In the top half above the red line he put PW Botha…the dictator he wanted to defeat. Below the line he put himself.

Around P.W. Botha he put all his pillars of strength. The army, the police, the intelligence agencies, the Stellenbosch academics and politicians in the Broederbond, the education system, the NG Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church) and other churches, the business leaders, ABSA bankers, the farmers and mine owners who ran the economy, the artists, musicians, poets, writers and journalists in Naspers.

Slovo didn’t hold back. He put it all down on paper. He looked at the sports councils such as that of Rugby and Cricket, cultural organizations such as the FAK and ATKV, the white voters…everything and everyone that he could think of that kept P.W. Botha and the NP regime in power…and he went to work.

Joe SLovo realized that P.W. Botha and the NP were just like any other dictatorships. They relied on certain pillars of support in order to stay in power. Some pillars were stronger than others, but the strongest ones were only a handful of loyalists around him; a few generals and politicians in the State Security Council. They would probably be the last to fall. Another strong one was the uncorruptable and loyal police force.

He also realized that each major pillar was kept up by several smaller pillars. He then set to devise a plan to undermine each pillar, but not to destroy it, rather to pull it over to his side. At the same time he had to keep up the deception that there was “only” an armed struggle taking place. This kept the focus of the security forces away from the real battle…the battle for the minds of the white South Africans. He needed to find away to isolate Botha, remove his pillars of support and get people to abandon him.

Joe Slovo realised that actually a lot of the work was already done or in progress and he did not have to do much more. Just a few critical sections still needed to be addressed and organized.

Nevertheless, he realised that he could actually pull every single pillar out from underneath Botha and over to his side. When he had all the pillars on his side and P.W. Botha was standing alone on the opposite side of the red line, he realised that he had won. The Apartheid ideology would fall, the NP would crumble away and the bombastic dictator P.W. Botha would be reduced to nothing.

This is what Sun Tzu meant when he said, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

Joe Slovo called his plan “Operation Vula”.

Operation Vula: An Elaborate Plan Of Deception

Some Of The Main Actors And Responsibilities:

Oliver Tambo and Joe Slovo controlled Operation Vula from Lusaka in Zambia. As his generals on the ground he chose Mac Maharaj, Siphiwe Nyanda and people like Pravin Gordhan, the recently sacked finance minister.

First Mac Maharaj had to be brushed up on his knowledge of revolution, urban warfare and insurrection so was sent again to Moscow, East Germany and Cuba for refresher courses. Then he and Nyanda were smuggled into South Africa across the Swaziland border and started their work.

Funding came from Baron Joel Joffe, South African lawyer from the ANC defence team at the Rivonia trial who now lived in England. $100,000.

Chief Communications officer was communist journalist, Janet Love, who would later become assistant GM of the Reserve Bank, Commissioner of the South African Human Rights Commission and currently National Director of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC).

Nyanda was put in charge of the Military committee. He and his officers, Charles Ndaba and Mbuso Tshabalala focused on military recruitment and training.

The political or “Non-violent” committee in Natal was run by the likes of Pravin Gordhan, Jabu Sithole and Mpho Scott.

Secret talks and persuading of P.W. Botha’s closest allies like Foreign Affairs Minister Pik Botha, Minister of Constitutional Development, Chris Heunis and Education Minister F.W. de Klerk as well as the persuading of the generals in the military, police and intelligence services, the academics and opposition party members were left to educated members such as Thabo Mbeki, Cyril Ramaphosa, Pallo Jordan, Aziz Pahad, etc.

Implementing The Plan

On the surface Operation Vula had to look as if violence increased, but in effect, the emphasis was on non-violent means such as the defiance campaigns, the boycotts and the strikes.

For instance when Slovo realized that the whites were very pious and religious and their churches supported the state and rationalized and justified the state’s Apartheid ideology from the pulpit and the Bible, he did not set out to destroy the churches. He did not plant bombs in the churches. He did not assassinate their leaders…he worked on and co-opted the leaders such as Beyers Naudé, Johan Heyns, Albert Geyser…Bishop Tutu, Reverend Frank Chikane, Alex Boraine and Dr Alan Boesak, to name a few.

Slovo did the same co-opting of the white academics at Wits, UCT, Stellenbosch and RAU, the media, the musicians, etc.

For instance, the Voëlvry Movement was a group of liberal Afrikaans musicians organized against Apartheid. Afrikaner writers and poets like Andre P Brink, J.M Coetzee, Dalene Matthee and Breyten Breytenbach (to name a few) were all anti Apartheid activists working on the minds of the white South Africans.

Senior journalist in the media were co-opted and briefed on the “democratic” fairness and innocence of the ANC ideology. If only Apartheid was gone there would be no need for violence.

The farmers and mines were the backbone of the South African economy. South African agricultural products were some of the best in the world, yet their apples, oranges and wine were vilified on overseas markets as oppressive of blacks in SA.

The mines relied on cheap black labour. The unions were organised and united and the mines vilified overseas.The darling sports of the whites such as Rugby and Cricket and the Olympics had to be boycotted and whites vilified overseas. The strong army with its conscripts had to be undermined with the “End conscription campaign” and soldiers fighting Communist forces in Angola were vilified as brutes.

On the ground Bishop Desmond Tutu and Reverend Alan Boesak led the UDF and the MDM (Mass Democratic Movement) on campaigns of defiance; defying Apartheid laws by arriving at beaches, marching and picnicking and arriving at hospitals demanding blacks to be treated in white sections of hospitals.

Trade unions were organized into “Mass Action” demonstrations putting pressure on the mines and industry.

Turning The Police Against The Dictator

During these demonstrations police could only look on. Every time they used violence, shotguns, batons and teargas, the foreign and local media were there to put them under the magnifying glass and film their brutality. Tutu demanded on camera that they apologized “for what they did to our children”…

It did not take long before the cracks started to show in the police. Just before the 6th of September 1989 elections the police cracked down on a riot in the coloured area of Mitchels Plain. A 30 year old coloured police Lieutenant, Gregory Rockman saw people from his own community, people he grew up with being beaten by the police. He commented that his police colleagues, many coloured, acted like “wild dogs with a killer instinct”.

He said the police “feasted on the people“ with their whips, attacking nonviolent protesters indiscriminately.

Tutu sang his praises and the MDM called him a hero. Rockman loved the attention.

When the Apartheid government then announced that sjamboks (whips) would no longer be used to break up protest rallies, Rockman, was right back on foreign television claiming credit, ignoring orders to keep his mouth shut and putting his 12 year police career on the line. He then announced that he would be joining Cape Town`s mayor in a peaceful protest march to parliament that the regional police commander already has said he would block.

He also founded the new police union Popcru (Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union) and many other policemen joined him. The government couldn’t arrest him. The antiapartheid movement was demanding the resignation of Law and Order Minister Vlok and the removal of riot police from duty.

That was all it took to reduce the once mighty SAP to mere spectators of the revolution…one attention seeking policeman who broke rank and the whole force crumbled.

As in any revolution, the turning of the police is a major blow for the dictator. All they had to be shown was that life under the ANC would be paradise in comparison to life under the dictator.

The Strongest Pillars Closest To The Dictator

Joe Slovo studied P.W. Botha very well. He knew he was a crude and bombastic bully who often bragged about how he humiliated those under him.

For instance he once regaled a foreign visitor with the allegation that his press spokesman, Jack Viviers, was so obsequious that he would pull down his pants and sit on a block of ice if Botha told him to do so, an expression the president stole from Bhrezhnev, describing the servility of Soviet Minister Andrei Gromyko.

Working under P.W. Botha was not easy. He swore a lot, threatened those under him with beatings and physical violence, telling them how he would “donner” them.

Along came the nice, educated black gentlemen of the ANC and showed his “friends” in the Security Council a good time, laughing, “braai-ing” and drinking a few whiskies with them. All their fears were allayed. Under an ANC government they would not be prosecuted. They would maintain their positions in government. Their salaries would increase. The ANC were nice guys you could trust and have a good time with…

They fell for it…

Actually easy considering the authoritarian attitude of their hated boss, P.W. Botha. Slowly but surely, one by one they started looking for an excuse to get rid of him.

The 1989 Election And The Fall Of The Dictator

By 1989 the stress started to take its toll on P.W. Botha. On 18 January 1989, Botha (then aged 73) suffered a mild stroke.

On 2 February 1989, Botha resigned as leader of the National Party (NP) and wanted his finance minister Barend du Plessis to replace him. Instead, the NP’s parliamentary caucus selected as leader education minister F W de Klerk. They told Botha it was better for his health, that he could stay on as President and have all the power, whilst F.W. de Klerk would do all the hard work. He did not oppose De Klerk’s election as party leader.

In March 1989, the NP elected F.W. de Klerk as state president and a group of Ministers led by F.W. de Klerk marched to his office and demanded Botha resign and vacate his office. Botha was livid and felt betrayed.

Botha’s former friends and colleagues in the Security Council who were already having secret meetings and parties with the ANC, wanted to push him out and said he should claim bad health due to his stroke, but Botha, like a typical dictator, refused to resign, saying defiantly in a television address that the constitution entitled him to remain in office until March 1990 and that he was even considering running for ANOTHER five-year term. He still could not see the writing on the wall.

They then used the media to make him appear senile and stupid. This was the same Naspers media that Botha bragged he controlled. He often joked how he not only told Naspers chief Ton Vosloo what to write, but also exactly how many lines.

At the end of March 1989 UN resolution 435 came into effect and the UN took control of Namibia. On that day, the 1st of April 1989 Botha and de Klerk reached a compromise: Botha would retire after the parliamentary elections in September, allowing de Klerk to take over as president.

However more and more of his ministers resigned and turned their backs on him joining De Klerk.

Eventually…four years after his disastrous defiant “Rubicon Speech” of 1985 and the introduction of Operation Vula, P.W. Botha was isolated and alone. He was in checkmate. Not a friend or ally in the world. He resigned on the 14th August 1989, three weeks before the September elections.

Useful idiot F.W. de Klerk was sworn in as State President on the same day.

P.W. Botha…The once mighty dictator who felt himself invincible, the commander in chief of the strongest military on the continent, a man who once had nuclear weapons at his finger tips, was reduced to a pathetic figure sitting on his couch with a crocheted blanket over his knees…staring blankly out of the window of his modest home in George….sulking and brooding for the rest of his life over conspiracy theories of who the traitor in his midst was.

For Joe Slovo, the Codesa negotiations and the ANC’s ascend to power was now just a formality.


What would have happened if Nelson Mandela never took the violent route and never formed uMkhonto we Sizwe? What would have happened if the ANC rather adopted the policies of “People’s War” and that of Non-violent resistance earlier?

Simple. They would have been in power 30 years earlier and with a lot less effort and bloodshed.

By Mike Smith
22nd of April 2017

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