Statement by Oliver Tambo on 16 June 1984

The month of June, like no other month, carries a galaxy of dates each of which records and bears witness to the heroic content of our struggle, the supreme justice of our cause, and our irrevocable commitment to pursue it until final victory is won. International Children`s Day, the judicial murder of the three gallant youths - Mogorane, Mosololi and Motaung - the Rivonia life imprisonments, the Soweto Uprising, June 26 and the SASOL attack, when Umkhonto we Sizwe set racist South Africa ablaze - all these events have each a singularly unifying quality, and they combine to give to the month of June a profound and special significance for our struggle.

It is against this background that today - this week, set between June 16 and June 26 - we address a special call to the entire democratic movement of our country in all its formations and shades of opinion.

The last ten years have seen our struggle rise to levels which seriously threatened the survival of the apartheid system and frightened the enemy into unprecedented acts of desperation. During the last three years in particular, that desperation found expression in armed invasions, raids and massacres; in the use of armed bandits to cause destruction, devastation and destabilisation throughout southern Africa; and in numerous assassinations and brutal torture of ANC activists and other opponents of the apartheid regime.

In the past three months the Botha regime has tried to recruit the neighbouring African independent States into a fascist campaign aimed at the destruction of the ANC and the liberation struggle in southern Africa.

In two months` time the Pretoria regime will be holding elections for the so-called Coloured and Indian sections of the black people of our country, to establish the other two chambers of its tricameral parliament.

These dangerous enemy moves are the products of our strength. They evidence the rising tempo of the conflict between the forces fighting for freedom, democracy and peace, and those who defend white minority domination and exploitation.

The oppressed people and the entire democratic movement of our country are therefore confronted with an enormous and historic challenge - a challenge we dare not meet with anything short of maximum determination.

Our task is twofold: First, we must, in action and with our united strength, give a lie to the notion that the nature, the progress and the victory of our struggle depend on the absence of accord or pacts. It is our turn to do for ourselves and humanity what others have done for themselves and us: We must liberate our country and make it independent and sovereign for all its people, for southern Africa and our continent, for world peace. This demands of us to wage resolute struggle at a level and on a scale that dictates victory. The intensity of that struggle will demonstrate that the white minority regime cannot save itself by terrorising, blackmailing and bullying African independent and sovereign States into becoming extensions of Pretoria`s defence and security system.

Second, we must crush the August elections by the vigour of our united struggle and through an intense campaign exposing the danger and treachery of the elections and reasserting the people`s goal for a united, democratic and nonracial South Africa.

Compatriots,

Often, in the many decades that our struggle has known, the enemy has attacked with all his might, employing every means at his disposal in a bid to wipe out the liberation movement of the people and secure their submission to continued enslavement. At such times, the best sons and daughters of our motherland have risen to meet the demands of the struggle. New leaders have emerged from among the people; old leaders have rallied and stood firm; the masses of people have fought back with unyielding courage and determination; and consistently, the blood of our youth has flowed to "water the tree of freedom". It is some glorious pages that our people have written into the annals of their history.

Today, faced with the challenge of the Botha constitution and the August elections, we address an appeal, a call, to our Indian and so-called Coloured compatriots to stand firm with the oppressed majority; to refuse to join the doomed apartheid system on the eve of the triumph of our long and bitter struggle. The ANC`s call to them, this valiant month of June, is simply: "Don`t Vote!" - "Don`t".

If you vote, you will be voting for perpetuation of the apartheid system;

If you vote, you will be voting for continued domination of the Black people by the white minority;

If you vote, you will be offering your sons and yourselves for military conscription into an army whose principal task is to fight the oppressed in South Africa and terrorise the independent countries of southern Africa;

If you vote, you will be selling your own birthright, and your future, for a mass of pottage;

If you vote, you will be helping the enemy to plant among us the seed of disunity and prolonged bitterness.

We must refuse to be herded into apartheid polling booths, like cattle into abattoirs. We are not apartheid`s cattle. We are men and women with a right and a will to say "No" to the polling "slaughter house". On August 22nd and 28th, therefore, let us ensure that the enemy`s booths stay lonely, empty and deserted places. That will serve to cement the unity of the black oppressed in our common struggle for a people`s government.

The holding of the elections and the entire constitutional manoeuvre is an assault on the oppressed majority in our country and especially on the African population. The defeat of this sinister scheme is therefore the task, not only of our Indian and so-called Coloured compatriots, but also, and even more importantly, of the African people. It is the task of every democrat. With the united might of our millions, we must together Rout the Racists in August and ensure progress towards people`s power.

It is therefore essential that we engage in the widest and most intensive mobilisation possible. We should reach out to all those whom the racists and their collaborators seek to drive or drag to the polling booths. In this connection, we shall need to pay particular attention to those of our so-called Coloured people who reside in the rural areas, in the small towns and in the Eastern Cape.

The campaign issues are daily before us. They include, in particular, the question of forced removals. The issue of forced removals anywhere should provoke solidarity actions everywhere. The entire country should be involved. None of us should stand and watch while thousands of our people are uprooted from their homes and dumped in the wilderness like sacks of rotten potatoes.

Earlier this month racist Prime Minister Botha invited himself to several countries in Western Europe, where he masqueraded as a champion of justice and peace and a self-appointed spokesman for the entire African continent. The mask was roughly torn away from his face by his reluctant hosts and the outraged people of Europe. But as he returned from this ill-conceived and ill-timed tour, he sought to conceal the effect of the rebuff he had received by repeating the lie that his regime has embarked on a reform programme within our country. The reality is, however, that the apartheid system cannot be reformed. What Botha, Malan and Koornhof mean by reform is their feverish attempts to strengthen the bantustan system through the criminal Aliens and Immigration Laws Amendment Act which seeks to transform Africans into foreigners in the land of their birth and banish them to starvation and death in the bantustans. What they mean by reform is the continuing pass raids and the genocidal programme of forced removals.

In the struggle to frustrate the enemy`s constitutional schemes we must therefore intensify our campaign against the bantustan system. This system is, after all, the centrepiece and the bedrock on which is founded the new oppressive constitutional arrangement.

There is the burning issue of education. Many educational institutions are today closed because thousands of black students countrywide refuse to accept a system of education designed to serve the interests of white minority.

As parents and workers, we, too, have to be involved in the struggle for a free, democratic, nonracial and compulsory system of education. The continuing struggles of the students, however localised they may appear, relate to this basic demand. Needless to say, the rest of the student population of our country, both black and white, should pursue with greater vigour and better coordination the goal of a united, national assault to destroy the present apartheid system of education and replace it with one which corresponds to our aspirations. The momentum we have built up in struggle should not be lost.

Our goal is a just system of education in a just society. Botha`s constitution, like others before it, is a constitution for injustice which, among other things, seeks to perpetuate apartheid in education. Consequently, as we continue to intensify our assault on the entire edifice of apartheid education we should relate this to our offensive against the apartheid constitution. Thus the democratic student movement should relate the struggle for a just system of education to the struggle against the apartheid constitution.

If Botha, with his so-called reform programme, pursues the aims of tightening the screws of oppression, he is also presiding over the ferocious exploitation of the people; and adds insult to injury by forcing us to pay for his evil designs.

By July, the General Sales Tax will have gone up twice within the year. A new Income Tax has been introduced which will hit the underpaid black masses hard. Prices continue to grow by leaps and bounds. The number of unemployed increases with each passing day.

In the meantime, the racists have sharply increased expenditure on their war machine. Large sums of money have been and will be spent on the implementation of the new constitutional scheme and the further refinement of the apartheid system as a whole.

The wages we take home buy less each passing week. We spend more money in the shops and return home with half-empty baskets. All this is happening because the Pretoria regime and its backers are shifting the burden resulting from the crisis of the apartheid economy onto the shoulders of the oppressed and the exploited.

The time has come that we should call a halt to this attack on our living standards. The time has come that we wage a national campaign for a just minimum wage which is tied to the cost-of-living index. The time has come that we combine in action to push down prices, rents, fares and rates to levels that we can afford. Now is the moment that we, the exploited, should refuse to pay for our oppression.

The democratic trade union and women`s movements have a special role to play in spearheading the struggle to ensure that the people refuse to starve in the midst of plenty, and refuse to pay for apartheid domination.

Compatriots,

In saluting you this month of June - on the eve of June 26th, the anniversary of the national day of struggle - our call to you all is: Organise, mobilise and step up the mass offensive around the immediate issues of the day and the fundamental question of People`s Power.

We are confident that in that offensive death-defying soldiers of Umkhonto we Sizwe, our heroic youth, our militant workers and fighting women will play their historic role and contribute massively to the buildup towards a determined, united and nationwide assault on the enemy`s constitution and for the conquest of popular power in our country.

Long Live the Struggle for the Total Liberation of Africa!

Long Live our Solidarity with SWAPO and the Namibian People!

In the Year of the Women!

Power to the People!

ES Reddy