(1987 – 1994)

8 Boxes





ACQUISITION: ANC Archive Committee

ACCESS: The collection is open

PHOTOGRAPHS: Maps in Box 8



PRINTED MATERIAL: Periodicals in Box 7

COPYRIGHT: ANC Archive Committee

PROCESSED BY: Sadie Forman, May 1999. Partial rearrangement and description by Razia Saleh and Nombeko Liwane, June 2003





Botswana borders on the north of South Africa and the north-east of Namibia. At the time of the Soweto students’ uprising in 1976 and its aftermath when many thousands of young people fled South Africa, independent Botswana was a natural destination and transit for many of its neighbour’s refugees.


The African National Congress members who escaped to Botswana found themselves responsible for many of the problems attendant on the influx of people and were given the task of setting up a centre in Gaborone. There is a paucity of information in the records as to how this was done. However, a letter from Barry Gilder to the Chief Representative Welile Nhlapo in April 1991 tells that he was deployed to Botswana from 1984 to 1987 and visited frequently up to 1989 when he was declared a prohibited immigrant. The ANC office had to deal with a welter of problems like housing, split families, orphans and permits. Permissions were required to enter Botswana, to gain residence, to assist students, to travel, to get transit visas etc. Most difficult of all was the problem of those who were “P.I’d” (declared prohibited immigrants).


A letter in May 1988 from a firm of attorneys in Gaborone demands that the occupants of a plot vacate it within a month. This elicited a reply of 5 pages from the South African Youth Revolutionary Council, which exposed a network of “chicanery”. A group calling themselves the South African Refugee Project Trust had raised funds and “took over” houses that had been allocated to homeless refugees. Some of the Trust members were the attorneys involved. However there is no indication that the Mission office was dealing with this problem, which extended over a number of years.


Oupa Rantobeng Mokou was the Chief Representative of the ANC from the 1980′s and other ANC members residing in Gaborone assisted him. ‘A Special Operations’ group existed, as is clear from the correspondence dealing with the care of children whose parent/s had been killed by the South African army in skirmishes and while crossing the border. Welile Nhlapo took over as Chief Representative for ’91/’92


In October 1987, the Treasurer-General of the ANC based in Lusaka, Thomas Nkobi wrote to “Comrades Barry (Gilder) and Thenjiwe” (Mtintso) reporting that the tents at the Dukwe settlement (for refugees) were flooded “during torrential rains” as they had been “pitched on bare soil”. They were asked to discuss the matter with “cde Oupa to see how funds can be made available”. An unsigned report by Administration tells of a ‘high rate of crime’, which decreased with the establishment of a committee. Some comrades were sent to prison. All at Dukwe suffered from cold due to lack of clothing and shoes. Transport was a ‘main’ problem, as was finance. Some of the nine children, aged between 3 months and 15 years, “sleep on the floor without mattresses and there is no money to provide lunch boxes for those at the crèche”.


In 1992 a letter from Henry Makgothi in Lusaka reports that 450 members were still living in the Dukwe camp, which was now being funded by the Swedish organisation SIDA. There was a school at Dukwe. A student, Jabu Dladla wrote to the British Council in Gaborone in November 1991, requesting library facilities to study for his A-levels and a number of students were awaiting scholarships to study further.


The Botswana Government, it appears, had a problem in dealing with refugee and exiled South Africans, as it did not want to incur the displeasure of their neighbouring regime. This resulted in a constant number of Prohibited Immigration cases coming before the Botswana court. By July 1991 Attorneys Minchin & Kelly threatened to take action against the ANC for payment of fees. At that stage Welile Nhlapo was the ANC Chief Representative.


In 1990, when the ANC and the other liberation organisations were unbanned, many of the exiles in countries around the world wanted to return to their homeland as quickly as possible. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees began to frame a programme to help returnees. This took some time to implement and the difficulties faced by families and orphans persisted. A letter in July 1991 records that allowances for the care of widows/partners and children had been stopped and requests maintenance information for four such cases where the family men had been killed.


In 1991 Nhlapo began to assist those South Africans who wished to return home with their repatriation. The overriding problem presented was that the Mission was no longer able to pay a monthly allowance to the exiles. Correspondence reveals that Oupa Mokou was the Deputy Chief Representative then.


The work of the Mission continued. It also dealt with visiting delegations from other African countries. People in education, health (Nkosazana Zuma visited in October 1991), music groups and so on came through the ANC, as did those in transit to countries further north.


In 1992 all Chief Representatives were instructed to install computers and to raise the funds for a computer-modem link to a Compuserve telephone line. This facilitated the work of closing down the Missions in 1994.  However, in Botswana it took time to solve the problems of widows, children and other exiles that had no means of dealing with their changed circumstances so the Mission office remained open longer.


Scope and Content Note

Unlike missions in the more affluent countries of the west where fund-raising and publicity were of utmost importance, those in some African countries, such as Botswana, dealt with a multiplicity of humanitarian problems as opposed to campaigns. Furthermore the proximity to South Africa made their position more tenuous. The collections are therefore not as large as those in the developed countries.


The Botswana papers are stored in 8 boxes.


The records are divided into 6 series: Subject, Correspondence, News clippingsPeriodicals, Maps, and Posters.


The Subject Series I is held in 6 boxes with 55 s. s 1 to 33 contain ANC generated and reports of conferences, campaigns, commissions, cards, departmental documents and some miscellaneous items. Folders 34 to 55 hold papers from other organisations, projects, repatriation information, speeches, etc.


Correspondence Series II is in Box 6, s 1 to 5. The correspondence deals with problems relating to students, exiles and letters to Botswana officials as well as telex and telephonic communications.


News clippings Series III are in Box 7, s 1 to 3.


Periodicals Series IV are in Box 7, s 1 to 11 and consist of a variety of political publications. Some periodicals have been removed to create complete sets, e.g. Sechaba, Mayibuye, Umsebenzi. See Periodical section in Africana for a listing.


Series IV – Maps are of the region and are also in Box 4, s 65 to 67.


Posters Series VI – This has been removed and this has been added to the ANC Poster Collection


Box 1

Series I – Subject

1. ANC Annual General Report, 1990

2. ANC Campaigns – 1, 1990-1992

3. ANC Campaigns – 2, 1991-1992

4. ANC Commissions, 1990-1993

5. ANC Conference, Anniversaries, Workshops, 1989-1991

6. ANC Health Department, 1990-1991

7. ANC Memos/Circulars, 1989-1991

8. ANC Missions, 1990

9. ANC Policy/Discussion Documents (1), 1988-1991

10. ANC Policy/Discussion Documents (2), 1990-1993



Box 2

11. ANC Policy/Discussion Documents (3), 1990-1993

12. ANC Policy/Discussion Documents (4), 1990-1993

13. ANC Social Welfare, 1991

14. ANC Statements/Declarations, 1990-1993

15. ANC Women’s League, 1990-1991

16. ANC Youth League, 1992

17. Amandla Cultural Ensemble, 1991

18 Botswana Democratic Party/Botswana National Front, 1991



Box 3

19. Briefing Documents for CODESA (1), 1991

20. Briefing Documents for CODESA (2), 1991

21. Postcards, 1992

22. Certificates, 1985-1987

23. Children of Africa, 1991

24. Conferences (1), 1990-1994

25, Conferences (2), 1991-1994

26. COSATU, 1992

27. Dukwe: ANC Project, n.d.

28. Economy/Sanctions, 1990-1992

29. Five Freedoms Forum, 1989

30. Free press, 1990



Box 4

31. Hani, Chris, Includes statement by Hani and commemoration on his death, 1993

32. Jordan, Pallo, “The Crisis of Conscience in the SACP”, Transformation 11, 1990

33. Lawyers for Human Rights Committee, 1993

34. DIA Meeting and report on violence, 1990-1993

35. National Olympic and Sports Congress (NSC), 1990-1992

36. Organisation of African Unity (OAU), 1989-1992

37. Papers (1), n.d.

38. Papers (2), 1989-1993

39. Photographs, 1979

40. Before Dawn, Mbuli, Mzwakhe, Poetry Book, 1989

41. Projects, 1990-1991

42. Indemnity Forms and visa application forms (blank), 1990



Box 5

43. Reports, 1990-1994

44. News from Russia, 1991-1992

45. Rwandese Patriotic Front, Human Rights violation, 1990-1991

46. Security systems, n.d.

47. Slovo, Joe, on Negotiations and Has Socialism failed?, 1990-1992

48. Solidarity education package – Somafco, (1658-1948), n.d.

49. Speeches 1, n.d., 1990-1991

50. Speeches 2, 1992-1994



Box 6

51. Statements/Declarations, 1990-1991

52. Thebe – An investment in aspirations, 1990

53. Tambo O.R., visit to Botswana and statement to Women’s League, 1991

54. United Nations Centre Against Apartheid, “The Convention for a Democratic South Africa”, 1992

55. Survey for Veterans, n.d.


Series II – Correspondence


1. n.d., 1987-1990

2.  1991-1994

3. Faxes Dispatched, n.d., 1990-1993

4. Faxes Received, 1991

5. Faxes Received, 1992-1993



Box 7

Series III – News clippings

1. News clippings, n.d., 1991

2. News clippings, 1992-1993

3. News clippings, Mauku Philemon: Defence campaign 1991-1992


Series1V – Periodicals

1. Amnesty International, South Africa: A State of Fear- Security complicity in torture and political killings, 1990-1992 (photocopy of book)

2. Association for Rural Advancement: Annual Report, 1988-1989

3. Congress Militant, 1992

4. Crisis News, 1989

5. Grahamstown Rural Committee Newsletter, 1989

6. International Bulletin, 1991-1992

7. PACSA newsletter and report, n.d, 1988-1989

8. Socialist Appeal: Marxist voice of the Labour party, n.d. (photopcopy)

9. South Africa: The case against immigration – a letter to Polish Catholics from the Church in South Africa, n.d.

10. The World: Media in SA, 1982

11. Top Secret: International News and Analysis, Winter 1989/Spring 1990



Box 8     [Oversize]

Series V – Maps





Series VI – Posters

(This has been added to the ANC Poster Collection)