My old friend, Dave Hemson, trade unionist, militant ANC member and academic, has issued this call in relation to the ANC’s former chief representative in London: Solly Smith.
Here he relates how the late Solly Smith demanded the best French hotels and the most expensive restaurants. Solly Smith was unveiled by Paul Trewhela in ‘Searchlight South Africa’ as a South African government agent.
You can read about other activities of the ANC in London in what I wrote earlier.
Is it not time that the ANC undertakes an internal TRC and provides greater information about its past and present leaders?
When in exile, for instance, I provided the chief representative in London, Solly Smith, with an introduction in the late 1970s to French Socialist Party friends of Rick Turner. I later got an earful from them when they described how Solly, who was representing SACTU and asking for funds, insisted on the best hotel and on eating at the most expensive Chinese restaurant in Paris.
Who was this Solly Smith? they wanted to know.
When I had an opportunity, I took up this question with Solly; he told me he attended a high school in the Free State and was initially involved in the PAC before coming to the ANC. Not much more.
Later when the London members were assembled to hear of a plan to reorganize the ANC and to elect a leadership in each country of exile, Solly Smith chaired the meeting. He stressed the utmost secrecy needed in the discussion and that only he and a few leaders in London would see the document; all British supporters (such as the partners of political prisoners) were told they were not members and asked to leave. He then read out the reorganization plan and no notes were allowed.
The meeting was held on a Friday evening. On the Monday the British press reported that the Sunday Beeld had printed the document in full. No ordinary members (or even Rusty Bernstein who sat in the seat in front of me and who grumbled loudly about the way in which the British comrades were treated) had even seen a copy.
Who were the persons who made these and other secret communications which appeared in the SA press and in the hands of interrogators and prosecutors?