Address at Conference on Southern Africa of the Socialist International and the Socialist Group of the European Parliament with the Frontline States, ANC and SWAPO by O. R. Tambo, Arusha, 4 September 1984

We bring to the distinguished participants of this conference greetings of the African National Congress and those of our membership as a whole. We cannot omit to make reference to those of them who are held in apartheid prisons today - leaders like Nelson Mandela whose presence at a meeting of this kind we should all have welcomed as an indication of a process of positive change taking place in South Africa. But he has been out of Tanzania since August 1962 and has since had no possibility of paying another visit to this great centre of struggle for national liberation in Africa. The African National Congress looks forward to the result of this Congress with high expectations, because here are gathered international statesmen and women, distinguished representatives of millions of people, principal opponents of the apartheid system - precisely to discuss what concrete measures they should take, and we should take together further to intensify the international offensive against the Botha regime. There is something about Arusha which reinforces these great expectations.

For Arusha is associated with a declaration of policy which has made Tanzania the great country that it is today - The Arusha Declaration. That is where we first heard of the name Arusha. More recently, in troubled times, Arusha became current again in April 1984, when the Frontline States assembled at this centre and there emerged with their declarations of their commitment to fight back in the face of the apartheid offensive against the liberation struggle, against the countries of southern Africa, against the continent. They were united in that declaration and that served the purpose of halting and slowing down the offensive. For the national liberation movement the communique which emerged from these halls was a tremendous source of strength and enabled us to recover our balance and move forth again on the attack against the apartheid system, against the domination of Namibia by a foreign country.

Today, then, at this meeting, we are entitled to expect that Arusha will play true to its character and send us off greatly reinforced and justifiably confident of victory because we meet not as leaders of southern Africa but we meet at the instance of the socialist parties of Europe and of the Socialist International, who have come here to take decisions with us. They have come to address the same problems that we have addressed in the past, problems indeed that have been the subject of discussion here by various bodies of the OAU. We believe this Conference will have a place in the history of the struggle for liberation in southern Africa, a struggle which binds together the independence movement and the independent and sovereign States of this region. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to reiterate our appreciation of the initiative taken by the Socialist International which has brought us here. We thank the SI Committee for inviting us to attend.

Equally we would like to express our appreciation of the initiatives taken by His Excellency Mwalimu President Julius Nyerere both as President of Chama Cha Mapinduzi and as the Chairman of the Frontline States. He has spared no effort in keeping this meeting before us and ensuring that it receives the attention that it deserves especially at this time. The ANC believes that all of us gathered here move from the same positions of principles, strategy and tactics with regard to many questions that are central to the future of southern Africa.

I should like to enumerate some of these. We believe that we all agree that the apartheid system is properly characterised as a crime against humanity, which has gone further to violate and continues to violate, international peace and security; and to find that violation, one doesn't have to travel far beyond the region of southern Africa, which consists of many nations and countries. We are also agreed that the peoples of Namibia and South Africa, like all other people, have an inalienable right to self-determination.

Accordingly, we all stand for majority rule for a united and independent Namibia; and majority rule for a united and nonracial and democratic South Africa. There is no difference among us in the conviction that the achievement of national independence by the countries of southern Africa and Africa as a whole constitutes a historic victory which must be defended at all costs. The defence of that victory must surely mean the guarantee of the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the independent countries as well as their right to develop themselves and develop such social systems as they may decide without the threat of external aggression or interference. We are certain that it is common cause among us that the apartheid system has not altered from what we have always known it to be. Similarly, the regime which upholds and perpetuates this system has not changed in terms of its nature or the objectives that it pursues. Inherent to the apartheid system, and of central importance to the implementation of policy by the racist regime, is the systematic and the planned use of violence to achieve domination of all the peoples of southern Africa by the racist white minority in South Africa. In other words, apartheid of necessity is violent domination of the majority by the minority. Clearly it can neither be peaceful domination which is a contradiction in terms nor can it be violence used by the minority to achieve equality with the majority it dominates, which is an absurdity. Apartheid cannot be peaceful, the apartheid regime cannot be the architect of a just and stable peace.

It is natural that depending on the circumstances the apartheid regime will use different means and methods to achieve its objectives. What is of importance for us who are meeting here is that we should not allow a situation to arise whereby the peoples of the world mistake a change in the ways and means that Pretoria uses to achieve its policy objectives for a change in those objectives. Botha and his strategists of course know, and proceed from the basis, that it is better that those who are dominated should at least appear to have entered into a voluntary agreement sanctioning the pattern of relations between the rulers and the ruled. That in part is the purpose underlying the new racist constitution which went into effect only the other day.

As to that constitution, the so-called new constitution, comprising amendments to an earlier constitution, Mwalimu President Nyerere has explained it in its true detail. Indeed the whole of southern Africa has become so integrated in its expositions against this regime and what goes on in the region that it no longer takes an Oliver Tambo to explain the intricacies, the tricks and the machinations that go with the system of apartheid.

I sat, Mr. Chairman, listening to President Kaunda and I decided that if we wanted to know what is going on in South Africa today, we have heard it from those who by their commitment, and by the fact that the struggle has been brought to their doors, have come to understand it very clearly. I think what we are trying to achieve today is to extend that degree of understanding of the apartheid system to the parties of the socialist world, the members of the Socialist International who are here, in the hope that in their circles, in their countries, with their friends, they can articulate the position as clearly as it has been articulated today. I should like to say in this regard that my friend and colleague, Prime Minister Olof Palme, has not been wanting in his thorough understanding and acquaintance with the apartheid system and its criminal nature.

And so, by making amendments to the constitution, purporting to bring a section of the blacks - and by blacks I mean Africans, Coloureds and Indians - purporting to bring them into participation in government, in exercising some political power, the Pretoria regime seeks in fact to consolidate its positions and render permanent the system as we know it today. It is building up its strength and defences, weakening those who seek change and then putting that across to the world, to divide the world, to encourage the belief that change is taking place and therefore weaken any opposition to the apartheid system and even discourage any action against it. Already we have been told that, as a result of these constitutional changes, it is necessary to give Botha time. He needs time, time to strengthen and entrench the apartheid system, time if possible to destroy the liberation movement.

This then is an attempt to legitimise the results of a policy of domination through violence and to give these results permanence or at least a longer lease of life. It is also a means used to create the possibility to present the continued use of violence against the opponents of the apartheid system as justifiable defence of an evolving democratic process and thus to arrive at the position whereby the very forces of racist and fascist repression are seen as the guarantors of progressive change, and those who seek to end the apartheid crime as the cause of regional destabilisation and insecurity.

A variation of this theme, argued most consistently by the Reagan Administration, is that progressive change in South Africa, and indeed in Namibia, is conditional on the achievement of so-called regional security throughout southern Africa. This is another version of the linkage issue, for it is then argued that both SWAPO and ANC are the cause of insecurity and should abandon armed struggle - if they do that then there will be change, apartheid would end, because SWAPO and ANC have abandoned the struggle, which is what this would mean. Because the ANC will have surrendered. If we surrender then apartheid will change. If SWAPO surrenders, Namibia will become independent.

But if we are to abandon armed struggle we must ask what conditions led our taking up arms in the first instance and what has since changed in those conditions. Of course, nothing has changed in those conditions. Nothing has changed. We ask the same question about the notorious linkage involving the presence of Cuban troops in Angola. Why did they go there in the first instance? Have the circumstances which led the Angolan Government to invite them now changed?

Our enemies are not interested in answering these questions honestly because the issue is itself dishonest. It is a tactic to delay, to hold on, to hoodwink international opinion - a tactic which has been allowed by mankind to be used for too long. The oppressed victims of terror resorted to armed struggle because the Pretoria regime drowned all peaceful struggles in blood. But it is these victims who are projected as the source of war and insecurity in our region. The apartheid regime continues, still, to occupy Angola. It has trained and deployed murderous bandit groups throughout southern Africa. It openly threatens and actually commits violence against independent States to force them to enter into security arrangements which in some cases are totally unnecessary. It has carried out the most gruesome massacres of the innocent and yet it claims to be legitimately engaged in the promotion of the priority objectives of regional peace, security, stability and a happy life for all the peoples of southern Africa.

To do all this, to kill so many, to bully and terrorise so many countries and claim to be doing that in the interests of peace indicates the nature of the apartheid system. These facts are an argument for the need to have that system abolished, that regime removed, the apartheid system destroyed. For we are convinced that all of us present here reject such dangerous sophistry and will, by the actions we take, demonstrate that our pursuit of peace centres on the objective of removing the source of war in this region, namely the apartheid system and the regime that maintains this system. We surely cannot accept the definition of peace as the acquiescence of the enslaved. Indeed people of South Africa and Namibia refuse to continue as slaves - that is why the struggle continues and intensifies. The Socialist International has, over the years, approved resolutions which would enable its member parties to adopt and implement concrete programmes of solidarity with the peoples of southern Africa. We have always welcomed these resolutions, the condemnation of apartheid, the support for the ANC and for SWAPO. We believe that it is important for us to be of the same mind as to the aims of those solidarity actions. We view the international solidarity movements as a very important force which acts to reinforce the activities of the liberation struggle in southern Africa and in this manner helps to bring closer the realisation of the objectives which that struggle pursues.

We believe therefore that the world force acting in alliance with us cannot but direct their attention to the decisive issue of the removal of the apartheid system and the transfer of power to the people in a democratic and truly independent South Africa and national independence for the people of Namibia. In other words, the combined forces of the national liberation movement, the international solidarity movements, are engaged in struggle - not to persuade the apartheid regime to change its heart, for it cannot - but to compel it to abandon its criminal system. Not to persuade it to amend the racist system, or to be nice to the oppressed people, but to remove and eradicate this system as a scourge on humanity.

We would that our friends viewed solidarity activity as a political act and not one of charity, of pity. The policy of so-called "constructive engagement" pursued by the Reagan Administration could not but produce the disastrous results that it has, precisely because it is predicated on the continued existence of the apartheid system and the false notion that the apartheid system can be talked out of existence or that the architects of the system of racist domination can be persuaded to be the builders of a democratic South Africa. The fact of the matter is that the Pretoria regime has viewed the policy of constructive engagement as encouragement to persist in the commission of a crime against humanity, a crime against the people of South Africa and Namibia, a crime against humanity, a crime against the people of the whole of southern Africa. The fact that P.W. Botha was received earlier this year by European Heads of Government will similarly be seen by the Pretoria regime, and indeed has been seen, as acceptance of its legitimacy.

Those of us who come from Europe have surely not forgotten the results of a policy of appeasement with regard to the Nazi regime. That is why the refusal of governments to receive Botha was an act of solidarity and one of great encouragement to us while his acceptance by governments in Europe was a disappointing development so soon after his massacres and murders in southern Africa.

We would like to see the peoples of Western Europe taking more decisive actions to achieve the all-round isolation of the apartheid regime and to extend and greatly increase their support, not only for SWAPO and the ANC, but also for the Frontline independent States of southern Africa. This, Mr. Chairman, is an old theme. We are sure that we meet today to concretise it. As a region, Western Europe has the most extensive economic and military as well as other relations with South Africa and in that sense constitutes the strongest rear base of the apartheid system internationally. We believe that the socialist movement of Western Europe which is organised in powerful parties, trade unions and youth and women's organisations, has the ability radically to alter this situation and therefore transform Western Europe into a strong rear base of the majority of the peoples of southern Africa, a rear base of the peoples represented here by their leaders.

Such an outcome can only be achieved as the result of the most stubborn fight to overcome the resistance of other powerful forces in Western Europe and elsewhere which have a vested interest in the apartheid system. We are convinced that the peoples of Western Europe can achieve such a victory, if they are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.

Mr. Chairman, what do we mean in Africa by sacrifice? The People's Republic of Angola, which has always supported SWAPO, was attacked by the South African forces in 1975. Between that year and 1981 the damage done to the economy of the People's Republic of Angola amounted to seven and a half billion dollars. That is irrecoverable. Sacrifice would mean that Western Europe, and indeed the rest of the world, would have made some contribution to lessen the effect upon the Angolan people of this damage to their economy. We hope we can quote in the near future examples of sacrifices made in the field of investment in South Africa, and in this regard we would like to see the governments and the mass democratic movements of Western Europe ensure amongst other things the cessation of all new investment in South Africa. It is a sacrifice. The termination of the supply and delivery of oil, the strict observance of the mandatory arms embargo, the breaking of trade relations, an end to technological transfers, an end to all cooperation in the nuclear field as well as putting an end to immigration to South Africa, these are some of the things which surely can be done without losing seven billion dollars in the process. We are asking for this express positive contribution, by way of support to the countries of southern Africa and to the liberation movement.

We would like to see further measures to ensure the political and cultural isolation of the racists as well in other fields such as sport. I should like to say, Mr. Chairman, that the South African regime feels these pressures, this isolation, because the people feel it. They are cut off, they are enclosed, they would like to be part of the world, they are not allowed to be. If the isolation is complete we shall produce results and we need to see where the loophole is and attend to those who are giving an opening. We are of course not oblivious to the fact that the West European parties represented here have taken action in favour of the isolation of South Africa. We must acknowledge that. We salute those concerned for initiating such actions. In honesty we should, however, also say that these actions have been small relative to the enormity of the problem we face in southern Africa and in terms of the extensive backing that the apartheid regime receives from the countries of Western Europe. We feel that somehow our problems are not adequately appreciated. We hope that this association, this get-together, will do something to increase the identity which our friends in Europe should feel with those of us who are facing a fascist Power.

Both SWAPO and the ANC require continued and increased political, diplomatic and material assistance, both to help us proceed in the struggle and to care for the thousands of refugees who are our responsibility. In this regard we would like to pay tribute to many of the parties represented here, and through them to their respective peoples, for the substantial material assistance they have extended to the ANC and our struggling people. In this connection we would like to inform our friends from Europe that we do get enormous, generous material, political and other assistance from the countries of southern Africa. Despite their weakness economically, despite their being harassed, they have not hesitated to extend to us the facilities we need and to assure us of their continued support. Which is why they are here.

Similarly, we think that it is of the utmost importance that countries, especially like Lesotho and generally the Frontline States and southern African countries as a whole, should be accorded maximum possible assistance to enable them to repulse the aggressive Pretoria regime, to consolidate their independence, and, as members of the OAU, to meet their obligations with regard to the struggle for liberation in Namibia and South Africa.

Lesotho is an interesting example to quote. Lesotho, as we all know, is an island geographically but it is part of the mainland politically. It is tied up with us, it is tied up with Africa in every possible respect. It speaks the language of Africa. It opposes apartheid like any other country. But it does no more than that. It doesn't house so-called terrorists. No so-called terrorist has ever attacked South Africa from Lesotho soil, none, as indeed none has anywhere else. But how is it that this grave, brave people should constantly be harassed by the enemy of mankind, repeatedly, by threats, sanctions, pressure of every kind, without the international community being outraged to a point where it acts? Lesotho, like Botswana, is never going to attack South Africa. It can't. It doesn't have even the semblance of an army. It doesn't even have the weapons; any weapons it might have for internal defence, internal security, are being held by South Africa itself, but the terrorism of that country continues. What does South Africa want from Lesotho?

Mr. Chairman, at the expense of taking some of your time, may I say that when the apartheid regime came into power we had many stories of how farmers, especially in the Free State but of course elsewhere in South Africa, would get hold of an African and beat him up almost to death, demanding that he should say "I am a baboon" - that's all. Because he is black. They would beat him until he made that statement. Well he made that statement to avoid being killed. Of course he went out of that and shouted that he's not a baboon, because he's not a baboon, an African is not a baboon. But what did the farmer want? The satisfaction of getting the African to do as he likes. That is all. Sometimes we are reminded of this when, for no apparent reason, South Africa is insisting that a country which can't possibly be a security threat to it should sign, and the other day Botha sent out this threat again. We would like to say that when we talk about the terrorism of the apartheid system we mean this kind of inexplicable conduct. This bullying for the sake of bullying does not have as its end the humiliation of Lesotho or its signature or an agreement. South Africa is going much further than that and we make a mistake if therefore we read an intention of peace in those activities.

Within our country the struggle continues unabated. Everywhere, both through mass political struggles and military actions, our people are taking their destiny into their hands. The perception I had of us is one of a continued and heightened offensive. Nothing the enemy does, whether by deceitful political manoeuvres or through repression and persecution of patriots can change this reality. Furthermore I would like to assure this meeting that all attempts to divide the struggling masses, to divide the democratic movement in South Africa, to separate the ANC from our people and their organisations - all attempts to uproot the ANC which the regime has been trying to do whether from South Africa or from our region, all these are failing and have failed. Because the ANC is supported and is part of the people, both within and outside South Africa.

It has lived through more than seventy years in that region and it has become part and parcel of the struggling people of the whole region. The strategic outlook of united action and the struggle for one democratic and nonracial South Africa has become the common perspective of the masses of our people who are determined to free themselves but who also rely on our friends in the rest of the world to act together with them to defeat the apartheid regime for the advancement of the mutually shared goal of independence, democracy, social progress and peace.

The areas in which these European parties present here should act have already been identified and agreed by them, within the organs of the Socialist International. We look forward to the translation of those resolutions into a practical programme of action. We are greatly encouraged that so many leaders of the European peoples thought the issues of southern Africa so important that they should travel to Arusha. We believe that we are therefore entitled to expect that this meeting will produce the concrete results that our people are expecting. We are certain that we, and they, shall not be disappointed.