Press statement by Oliver Tambo in Moscow, 06 November 1986

We are currently in Moscow as a delegation of the African National Congress which is here to hold discussions with the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Government and the public organisations of this country. We have also been kindly invited to join the Soviet people in celebrating the 69th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.

As you know, we have already met the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU. We have also held discussions with Comrade Anatoly Dobrynin, Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU. We have also met the leadership of the Soviet Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee, whose delegation was headed by its First Vice-Chairman, Dr. Vladimir Totstikov. Our Secretary-General, Comrade Alfred Nzo, is currently having conversations with the Deputy Foreign Minister, Comrade Anatoly Adamishin.

Later today we shall participate in a public meeting organised to commemorate the October Revolution. We will, of course, be present at Red Square tomorrow. Until we leave over the weekend, we shall be holding further informal discussions with our Soviet colleagues.

Tomorrow is November 7th, a very important holiday for the Soviet people and an historic date on the world political calendar. We would like today to extend our greetings and congratulations to the people of this country and wish them the best as they celebrate the 69th anniversary of the revolution.

The few days that we have spent here have helped us to understand better the tasks that the Soviet people have set themselves, including the central objective of achieving disarmament and world peace and radically improving their own material and spiritual wellbeing. We wish them success in all these endeavours and are certain that progress on these issues will benefit not only the Soviet people but humanity in general. Therefore we say Sprazdnikom to all the citizens of this country and many thanks for having us as your guests as you rejoice over your hard-won successes during the last 69 years.

We have held what was, for us, an historic meeting with the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Comrade Mikhail Gorbachev. We emerged from this meeting greatly strengthened by the knowledge that the Soviet Union stands firmly with us in the struggle for a united, democratic and nonracial South Africa, an independent Namibia and a peaceful region of southern Africa. We draw immense satisfaction and inspiration from the fact that the Soviet Union is resolved to contribute everything within its possibilities and, within the context of our own requests, to assist the ANC, SWAPO and the peoples of our region to achieve these objectives.

We would like to state it here as our firm conviction that in taking these positions, the Soviet Union is acting neither out of considerations of selfish interest nor with a desire to establish a so-called sphere of influence. We are therefore more than ever certain that in the CPSU, the Government and people of this country we have a genuine ally in our struggle against racism, colonial domination and aggression. We are honoured that Mikhail Gorbachev could find time in his busy schedule to receive us and wish to thank him most sincerely for this.

During our visit, we have also had occasion to listen to a moving account of the efforts of the Soviet leadership to help rid humanity of the threat of a nuclear war. We believe that no thinking person can avoid being a partisan for disarmament and world peace, because to guarantee the survival of humanity demands that all of us must act for peace. The Reykjavik Summit has come and gone. But it would seem to us that the promise it held for the human race must remain a factor motivating all peoples to fight even harder for disarmament, because Reykjavik demonstrated that peace is possible, thanks to the extraordinarily bold, but necessary, proposals that the Soviet Union put on the table. The promise of peace must be a spur to its realisation.

We understand the urgent need for peace because we are ourselves victims of repression and war. Throughout southern Africa people are dying daily because of a desperate effort by the apartheid rulers to maintain themselves in power. Only recently, this untenable situation claimed the life of the President of Mozambique, the late Comrade Samora Machel, who died in circumstances which have yet to be explained.

The Pretoria regime is caught in a deep crisis from which it cannot extricate itself. Whatever it does, including the imposition of a vicious state of emergency and the latest reshuffle of the apartheid cabinet, will not save it from defeat and destruction. Our people and those of Namibia, led by SWAPO, are set on an unstoppable march to liberation. Similarly, the peoples in the rest of southern Africa are determined to resist apartheid aggression and destabilisation and to contribute what they can to the total liquidation of the apartheid system.

Clearly, the United States policy of so-called constructive engagement has not succeeded to save the Botha regime nor to strengthen the positions of its authors the Reagan Administration. We are entitled to conclude that the Congressional elections in the United States, two days ago, in part represented a vote against the pro-apartheid policies of the United States Government.

This result creates even better possibilities for us and the world anti-apartheid movement further to advance the campaign for comprehensive and mandatory sanctions against the apartheid regime. We are certain that in this area we shall continue to score new victories resulting in the further isolation of apartheid South Africa and, accordingly, an improvement of our possibilities to bring into being a democratic South Africa with reduced bloodshed and destruction.

On the 8th of January next year, we shall be observing the 75th anniversary of the ANC. We believe that this will provide a uniquely appropriate occasion for the world community to implement programmes of action designed to ensure a speedy end to the apartheid system. East and West, North and South can and must act together in a decisive manner for the triumph of democracy in South Africa, the emergence of a society in which black and white will live together as equals, in which all our people will have the right and possibility to decide as free men and women how to shape their destiny.

This is one of the great imperatives of our time. We are glad that we have found complete understanding and support for these positions in the Soviet Union.

ES Reddy