We should like to endorse and associate ourselves with every detail of the case that has been made out for the support of the liberation movement in the various divisions of action in southern Africa, in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. We believe that the needs of the struggle against colonialism and apartheid are the same. There is need for specialisation, but there is a greater need to recognise that it is one struggle, against one enemy. In supporting the statement that has just been put before the Committee, we will limit our contribution to a statement of how much more assistance should be given to the South African liberation movement.
There is so much hostility to the doctrines and practices of apartheid that the world needs hardly to be convinced of the need to destroy this system. But it does not seem to be equally convinced at the present time of the need to increase what assistance has been given so far. On the contrary, the trends are in the opposite direction; less and less assistance for various reasons.
May I, therefore, direct myself to the position of South Africa, as we see it in the whole southern African complex. Experts and speakers over a period of 20 years now, have repeatedly said that apartheid is a threat to world peace and security. Only ten days ago, this same statement came from the Secretary for Justice of the United States(2), who described apartheid as the biggest threat to world peace. This theme persists in all references to apartheid. It is a crime against humanity and South Africa is armed to enable it to continue perpetrating that crime.
Central Role of South Africa
In his paper, Professor Solodovnikov(3) goes to great length in spelling out the military might and elaborate preparations of the South African regime which, he says, are aimed first and foremost at repressing internal insurrection. Last night, over the radio, the Minister of Defence, Mr. P. W. Botha, was reported to have said that South Africa is now self-sufficient in armaments production for internal purposes. There has been a statement by the Chairman of the African Liberation Committee, who also elaborated on some of the problems of South African liberation movement, including the facts that the liberation movement is separated from South Africa by independent and hostile territories and that the South African economy is powerful. He posed the situation in South Africa as being a difficult one.
I would like to go further and say that these are not the problems only of the South African liberation movement, but everybody`s problems. South Africa, as we see it, is at the centre of all this. There is no area of struggle against colonialism or white minority rule in Africa which can be discussed without reference to the role of the South African regime.
The validity of the case for sanctions rests on a recognition of the fact that South Africa must be tackled. The flow of materiel, personnel and equipment into Mozambique, Angola and Rhodesia comes from South African sources. Even if South Africa were lacking in such commodities, she could always get them from the NATO countries with which, with certain exceptions, she has the best relations. Any discussion of relations with NATO or Western countries must involve a discussion of South Africa which is the nerve centre.
Get Away from the Defensive Approach
I would like to urge also that we get away from the invasion-oriented approach to the South African situation, in which we see progress as coming from outside - as being the only condition under which there will be any changes in the country.
There is already a vast population who reject apartheid and are ready to fight it. They are, admittedly, in material terms and in terms of the very power of the enemy, in real need of assistance. For us, therefore, the statement that South Africa is a threat to world peace and powerful is not a case for playing a defensive game, but rather a case for more assistance and the form that this assistance should take.
Like occupied Europe during World War II, our country is militarily occupied. We are an illegal underground movement in occupied territory. The assistance we need is the type of assistance that the resistance movements of Europe needed, for example, a clandestine radio station which beams information to the fighting people, encourages them, and counters the powerful propaganda of the South African radio. The oppressed people occasionally hear sanity and encouragement from Tanzania, Cairo, the Soviet Union, the German Democratic Republic and we are grateful to these countries. In addition, leaflets are distributed and we are now trying to start a clandestine newspaper in South Africa to counter the South African propaganda.
But this is a small drop in the ocean. Therefore, we say, Sir, that there should be a recognition that a defensive approach to the South African situation is wasting the forces for change, which are ready to go into action. There is no need for this postponement.
If we proceed from the assumptions that there is a powerful enemy who must be destroyed because he is a criminal, that the world is threatened so long as apartheid exists, that there are people in physical contact with this state of affairs and who are ready to tackle it, then there can possibly be no problem about granting of assistance. We have suffered from a feeling that because South Africa is so powerful, we should wait until all the enemies around South Africa have been eliminated. In the meantime, South Africa is using precisely that period of waiting to consolidate the internal position to build up their armaments to a degree of self-sufficiency, to break the population up into tribes and races so as to reduce a majority into minorities and to consolidate its position in Namibia while consultations are going on between the Secretary-General and the South African Government.(4)
This is not the fault of the Secretary-General at all; he is only carrying out a mandate. But while that is happening, South Africa has the time she needs to strengthen her defences and become ever more powerful than she was twenty years ago.
Similarly, the misconception that by increasing wages here and there, apartheid will be destroyed, must be attacked. Apartheid is not just low wages. The answer lies with the liberation movement that fights for fundamental transformations - not for slight improvements which can always be arranged to suit the convenience of the South African regime and to ensure its permanence.
Need for New Level of Joint Action
I do not wish, however, to be understood to have said that the world has been totally blind to the question of our needs. This is the moment to acknowledge the assistance which we have been given and which now needs to be increased. I am absolutely convinced that the increase in that assistance will serve the interest of the whole struggle in southern Africa.
We are here without representation of some of the big powers of the world - the United Kingdom, the United States and France. The USSR and the People`s Republic of China are present. Also present and represented in strength are the governments of the Scandinavian countries. These are old and permanent friends. We have had regular support from these countries. When African States became independent in 1960, their closest friends at the United Nations were the Scandinavian countries. African-Asian countries and Socialist countries used the strong positions of the Scandinavian countries to influence the rest of the world, including Commonwealth countries and Western European countries and countries in other parts of the world, to support decisions aimed at decolonisation and the destruction of apartheid. The Scandinavian countries played a prominent role.
Socialist countries too, have always been behind us. In terms of denouncing apartheid, they have never been wanting and this never had to be organised. In terms of material assistance, they have paid as if they were part and parcel of the struggle.
It is this aspect that we would like to emphasise. This difference between support and participation was spelled out to us in 1965 by President Nyerere when he said that Tanzania was not supporting the peoples of southern Africa but participating in what was their own struggle.
I think this concept is what we as liberation movements are trying to convey to this meeting. We should rise above the relationship of victim and supporter and combine at a new level of joint action against a common foe. This kind of participation which involves people, public organisations, as is the case in this country and in the Socialist countries, is the kind of support which we should encourage elsewhere in the world.
There have been organisations like the Anti-Apartheid Movement, the International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa, Amnesty International, which have sustained us in various forms. And generally, we would like to acknowledge that the African National Congress has survived this far, because when South Africa mobilised in the hopes of crushing us, we were able to fall back on sources of assistance which have ever been available.
Greatly Increase Assistance
But I think if this meeting means anything, it means that we are now trying to get the world to saturate the liberation movements of Mozambique, Angola and Guinea-Bissau, the liberated territories, with so much material assistance that there should be no problem of how much will go to Angola and how much will go to South Africa. The world is rich in materials. What we don`t have is the means of collecting this assistance and mobilising it.
In Tashkent, not so long ago, the whole city was reduced to rubble. A new city rose on the ruins of that earthquake almost immediately. Why cannot the liberated territories in Mozambique and Angola and Guinea-Bissau be treated as if they were another Tashkent? What are we waiting for? The waiting is only prolonging the sufferings of these peoples. Experts know that what we need is the conviction that Portugal can be defeated by the combined material power of its enemies and that South Africa is weak as against the whole world. We must recognise that with proper organisation, this can be done.
In the parcelling out of assistance, the liberation movements must not merely be recipients, but must take part in the decisions at the policy-making level. If the assistance is distributed without our participation, then, of course, we might well find that the least beneficiaries of this are the liberation movements and the liberation struggle. We must correct the situation whereby deserters from the struggle, who have presented themselves to charitable institutions which were raising money for refugees, received assistance while freedom fighters did not. As far as passports are concerned, many of us are here because some countries have given passports to freedom fighters enabling them to travel, as if they were their nationals. The idea of a free university might be taken into account, as far as South Africa is concerned, to combat the problem of Bantu education. These are some of the many things that could be done. We will be able to furnish interested parties with a complete list of things that might be done which are aimed at defeating apartheid.
Leading Role of Liberation Movements
The methods being used today as a substitution for the activities of the liberation movement are methods which do not attack apartheid, but accommodate it. They are reformist: they presuppose that apartheid is there to stay and that all we need to do is to make slight improvements in it. We think that the answer to apartheid is the power of the liberation movement, and unless that power is strengthened, then all else amounts to assistance to apartheid itself.
Problems that have been with us for almost a decade appear to be reaching a solution because of bilateral discussions with Scandinavian countries. They have been crucial in our struggle, and will now be solved.
We are opposed to any policy which denies us access to governments of countries, political organisations, either in Africa or outside it, as leaders and representatives of people. The liberation movements must be lifted from the status of petitioner to the status of fellow practitioners in the struggle against colonialism and racism. They should guide and learn from the experience of people who are taking decisions at the national and international level. They should be part of the United Nations system at various levels, because the United Nations has recognised the legitimacy of their struggle and is involved in the struggle against colonialism and racism.
It is only proper and natural that those who are in the forefront of this struggle should be able to bring their experiences direct to the levels of decision-making. If that is observed, we are satisfied that the support and assistance that we are discussing here, will very rapidly change the scene in southern Africa and Guinea-Bissau, and in Africa, and the threat to peace will be brought to an immediate end.
1 The main address by Mr. Tambo on behalf of the African National Congress, which was delivered in the Political Committee of the Conference.
2 Elliot L. Richardson, Attorney-General of the United States
3 Professor Vasily G. Solodovnikov, Director of the Africa Institute in Moscow
4 The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Kurt Waldheim, initiated talks with the South African Government, SWAPO and others in February 1972, at the request of the Security Council, "in order to enable the people of Namibia... to exercise their right to self-determination and independence". He held final discussions with the South African Foreign Minister in Geneva from April 9 to 13, 1973, and they proved fruitless.