Press Conference in Maputo: Comments by Oliver Tambo on South African offer of territory to Swaziland, 5 March 1982

[Speaking at a press conference in Maputo, Mr. Tambo said that the ANC had already held two sets of discussions with the Swazi authorities on the South African "offer" of the Kangwane bantustan and the Ingwavuma strip to Swaziland. The second took place the previous week in Swaziland. The ANC delegation was headed by himself, while the Prime Minister, Prince Mabandla Dlamini, led the Swazi side. The ANC hoped to meet with King Sobhuza II of Swaziland in the near future.]

"I cannot say that agreement was reached on the two principal issues," said Mr. Tambo. "First the border question and secondly the intention of the South African regime to denationalise some one million black South Africans and throw them into Swaziland. But agreement was reached," he continued, "that it was necessary to see the King himself." Mr. Tambo expects the meeting with King Sobhuza to take place shortly after the OAU Heads of State summit. He stressed that "the ANC wants to avoid a conflict among opponents of the Pretoria regime. We have felt that this is a matter we can discuss and reach an agreement upon between the ANC and the Swaziland authorities, or between the Swaziland authorities and the leaders of the southern African region."

"As a result," he added "the ANC has made few public statements on this affair, in spite of the fact that we all feel very strongly about it." However many statements had emanated from Mbabane and Pretoria, some of which misrepresented the ANC. "It is necessary to correct false impressions," said Mr. Tambo. He described the land deal "as a move against our struggle and against the interests of Africa". He condemned the attempts by Pretoria to deprive a further million Africans of their citizenship and make them citizens of another country. "The apartheid regime," he continued "wished to destroy the Southern African Development Coordination Conference, and build up instead the Constellation of Southern African States, in which it would like to see as members Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland as well as the independent bantustans. We have pleaded," he said "and we are pleading with our brothers in Swaziland, a country which supports our struggle, to stay its hand in this matter, and to avoid being pushed into a position in which it is allied with the Pretoria regime against everybody else."

Mr. Tambo said that "beyond a willingness to discuss the matter, there was so far no indication that the Swaziland authorities were prepared to change their minds". But the ANC did not intend to take the matter to the OAU.

"We think we should first exhaust the possibilities of having it resolved by the leaders of this region, if the ANC itself does not succeed. What Pretoria wants is to compound divisions and conflicts inside the OAU. The ANC has no intention of helping the regime in this. Border questions are the subject of bitter conflict, and some of them are threatening the very life of the OAU. Only an enemy of the OAU would want to add another border question. The ANC has not gone into the merits of where the border should be. We have contented ourselves with saying that it is possible to prove that any border in Africa is in the wrong place. It`s the easiest thing to do."

Asked if he believed that Swaziland had agreed to end its support for the liberation movement as part of the land deal with South Africa, Mr. Tambo said he did not think that Swaziland would "enter an express agreement under which it would withdraw support for the ANC. But the land deal set off a dynamic of conflict, in that the ANC could not accept that a million South Africans were to be declared foreigners in their own country and made citizens of Swaziland instead. It is not a declared policy of withdrawing support from the ANC. It is that conditions are being created whereby the interests of the Kingdom of Swaziland are being set in conflict with the interests of the struggle for the liberation of the people of South Africa."

One journalist asked if the ANC would be prepared to discuss border changes after the overthrow of apartheid. Mr. Tambo said that this would be perfectly possible. "After achieving our fundamental aim, our common objective, we could then sit down and discuss how we wanted to arrange ourselves. Once the minority regime had been destroyed it should be possible to enter into all kinds of adjustments and arrangements." Mr. Tambo praised Lesotho`s refusal to take part in any similar land deal with Pretoria. He pointed out that Lesotho laid claim to the entire Orange Free State, but the Lesotho Government discussed these matters with the ANC, and we agreed that it is wrong to pursue this kind of claim in the middle of a struggle for the liberation of the whole of southern Africa, including in a way the liberation of Lesotho itself, and that this matter would be better resolved by a freed people of South Africa.

"Lesotho understands that South Africa has not suddenly become generous about land, and that it is using States on its borders for its own ends. One of these was to obliterate the distinction between independent States and bantustans, so that eventually the Transkei and other bantustans could win international recognition."

ES Reddy

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