Statement by Oliver Tambo at May day rally, 01 May 1987, Stockholm

It is a great honour for the ANC and for me, personally, to have been invited to participate with the Swedish labour movement and people in observing May Day.

We greet this great gathering and the entire people of this country in the name of the working people of South Africa and Namibia, as well as their southern African co-fighters against apartheid. The ANC, formed in 1912 as the first African political organisation, also salutes you in the name of the workers of the rest of Africa.

May Day is an international event affirming the dignity of labour and uniting the peoples of the world in a common struggle for peace and social progress. Apartheid South Africa does not recognise May Day because it does not accept that any dignity attaches to its predominantly black labour force. For, the apartheid system defines labour as either white or black; and if black, apartheid assigns to it many of the attributes of slave labour.

That is why May Day rallies today have been declared unlawful by the racist regime. That is why May Day is ever so often, and may yet again be, a bloody day in South Africa. For the workers of our country, however, May Day is May Day, and, bloody or not, it will be observed as such, for, we are an integral part of the international working class movement - whether the apartheid regime knows it or not.

That is why our struggle is your struggle.

While the majority of the people are gagged, bound by numerous restrictions and subjected to undisclosed atrocities under a vicious state of emergency, with thousands of young children held in camps reminiscent of Nazism, the whites are allowed by the apartheid system to move free and unfettered across the length and breadth of the country holding any number of rallies and meetings in shamelessly racist elections for a racist whites-only parliament. We know you are, like us, outraged by this gross insensitivity on the part of Botha and his clique.

That is why our struggle is your struggle.

That is why we seek and value your participation by way of support for us as we fight to end the apartheid order and replace it with a nonracial and democratic system.

We wish to take the opportunity of this historic day to observe, with deep appreciation, that Sweden and, in general, the Nordic community of nations, are responding most positively in the three crucial areas of support which have been, and continue to be, the subject of urgent appeals by the ANC to the international community. These are:

Humanitarian assistance to the ANC and SWAPO;

Economic assistance to the Frontline States and SADCC; and

Comprehensive sanctions against South Africa.

In this connection, we note that as much as 43 percent of Sweden`s total bilateral assistance is allocated to southern Africa, and that an Act of Parliament prohibiting trade with South Africa and Namibia is due to come into effect later this year. We thank you.

There is urgency in our call for material assistance and for comprehensive sanctions, including total effective disinvestment. Two features are clearly discernible about the situation in South Africa and the subregion: first, as a result of the overall struggle, including international pressure, severe fissures have appeared in the foundations of apartheid and will widen. But, and second, the apartheid system still has the capacity, and can be expected, to defend itself by resort to levels of violence which could be catastrophic for the country and all its people - black and white - and for the peoples of the region of southern Africa.

We wish to urge it upon the Group of 7, the EEC and the Commonwealth countries, upon the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations, that the situation in southern Africa has the potential to confront humanity with a crisis of incalculable dimensions. The time to act is now.

In the meantime, the struggle continues with unyielding determination. And you, the Swedish people, who have marched behind Tage Erlander; you, who grew to win a place of respect and honour among the nations under the illustrious and inspired guidance of Olof Palme; you, who rallied around Ingvar Carlsson when deepest darkness struck this nation and stunned the world in the opening months of last year; you, the Swedish people, who sing our songs and mourn when we mourn, as we mourned when you did; you will surely be with us through thick and thin - to the dawn of the day of liberation in South Africa, independence in Namibia, and peace in southern Africa. For, we shall win. We are winning, and the victory of our common struggle will be a triumph for world peace.

Asante Sane!

Thank you.

ES Reddy

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