Mr. Chairman,
Your Excellencies, 
distinguished representatives and guests:

Permit me first of all, Sir, to express the gratitude of the African National Congress for the invitation extended to me to submit a paper to this important, in many ways historic, session of the Special Committee on Apartheid.

Your Committee, Mr. Chairman, Achkar Marof of Guinea which has been entrusted with one of the most difficult tasks by the United Nations, has been an inspiring example of devotion to the cause of freedom for the people of South Africa. Your own inspired and capable leadership of this Committee, the resourcefulness of your SecretaryNations Centre against Apartheid. and the devotion of the members of the Committee has made this organ of the United Nations in a way an important wing of the liberation struggle of the people of South Africa. It has helped to bring the United Nations closer to us than might have been the case otherwise and has served to make up for the loss of confidence in the ability of the United Nations to assist, to which we have sometimes fallen victim.

We know that you and your Committee, Sir, in turn draw inspiration and energy for your work not only from the unfailing support you enjoy from the vast majority of the United Nations members, but also from the devoted leadership of the United Nations Secretary-General, His Excellency U Thant, whose bitter opposition to the inhumanities of apartheid is for our people a source of encouragement and continued faith in the ability of the United Nations to intervene effectively in the South African situation, given the necessary will on the part of all its powerful members. I would ask you to convey to the Secretary-General the gratitude of the leaders of our liberation movement, both in and outside South African prisons, for his vigilance and concern over the South African situation.

It has been my special honour and privilege to be welcomed to Sweden by the Social Democratic Party as its guest and to have met His Excellency the Prime Minister. Tage Erlander The choice of Sweden as the venue for the session was from our point of view appropriate in a special sense because, of all the Western European countries, Sweden, with the rest of Scandinavia, has played a dominant role in the sphere of international pressures against apartheid and in giving moral and material support for the victims of apartheid.

Among the prominent citizens of this country, we have Her Excellency Mrs. Alva Myrdal, who is an expert on the South African situation.territory as a whole, regardless of race, colour or creed". I had the honour to present to her, in the United Nations Group of Experts in 1964 our approach to the problems of the South African situation and the ways by which we thought that even at that late stage a solution might be found. We shall continue to regard her as an expert because I believe that a time will be coming when the world, and particularly ourselves, will feel the need to refer to the recommendations and findings of her Grouppromoting a peaceful solution. and whensoever this happens, Mrs. Myrdal will be one of the persons that we shall have in mind.

I said yesterday that in her contribution she had raised a number of questions.examination of the logistics of sanctions against South Africa. Now, I want to say today that there is, in fact, at this stage no positive answer to the question of what preparations we are making for the time when we shall be taking over. These are too insignificant at this stage to deserve mention. They depend largely on the cooperation not only of the United Nations and its agencies but on a whole number of people who would place at our disposal their services and facilities. Our people cannot leave South Africa. We have no immediate means of doing anything with them, except put them behind the wheel of struggle in South Africa. They cannot come out and travel freely because international law requires that they should have documents to do so. South Africa will give them no documents. Therefore there is no impressive state at present, short of real assistance from friends and countries and Governments, on the basis of which we could make various preparations. But we have them in mind.

There is another reason, Mr. Chairman, why Sweden is in our view so appropriate as a venue for this session of your Committee. It was in Scandinavia, in Norway, and - but for the fears of the South African Government - might have been Sweden itself, that seven and a half years ago, our beloved leader, Chief Albert Luthuli, made what has turned out to have been his last public address to his people, to Africa and to mankind. He stated then, when he was in Scandinavia: "All the strength of progressive leadership in South Africa, all my life and strength have been given to the pursuance of the nonviolent method of struggle in an attempt to avert disaster in the interests of South Africa and I have bravely paid the penalties for it". Mr. Chairman, he paid the final penalty when he was killed in a mysterious train accident on July 21st last year. He was then in his place of restriction and confinement in Groutville, Natal. The African National Congress is working on plans to honour his memory, and when these are announced it is our hope that the world that knew and supported his leadership will participate in paying lasting tribute to his life and work.contributions from Nordic Governments.

May I mention another severe loss sustained by our people in the death recently of Professor Z.K. Matthews, a political colleague of Chief Luthuli for many years and an outstanding leader of our people, who was Botswana`s Ambassador to Washington and the United Nations. Apartheid persecuted him until he left South Africa and he spent the rest of his life in the service of the people of newly independent Botswana.

These two great leaders of our people have not left a vacuum. They have left behind their colleagues in the leadership of that people. Many of these are on Robben Island, in Pretoria`s goals, in other gaols in South Africa. Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Bram Fischer, Ahmed Kathrada, Elias Motsoaledi, and countless others have their hearts where they were before they were incarcerated. We hear from them and their morale and spirit is an inspiration to us and a cause for us to more than double our efforts. Their resistance to the conditions of prison is a challenge to the people who stand with them in the determination that South Africa be free.

Mr. Chairman, the paper that I have presented deals in general terms with the present stage of the struggle in South Africa. I should like to emphasise a few aspects of what I have said in the paper.

Southern Africa - an Area of Common Struggle

First of all, it seems important to appreciate that apartheid, the worst form of racialism in the world, is confined not only to South Africa; the policy of the South African Government is confining its effects not only to the territory of South Africa. South Africa is the main base on which this evil will be conquered, but the evil extends its tentacles to areas beyond the borders of the South African State. South Africa is tied up intimately with the rest of southern Africa and the intimacy grows by the day. The African National Congress is confronted in South Africa with a powerful machinery which spreads itself out and is just about as effective outside South Africa itself and therefore, with the progress of the struggle, the involvement of South Africa outside of its borders has been increasing and today what is happening outside South Africa is as important as what might be happening within South Africa itself.

In other words, progressively southern Africa is becoming an area of common struggle against a common enemy. The power of the South African State enables it to conduct a determined struggle in defence of its position in such territories as Zimbabwe. This explains why the people of South Africa have become involved in Zimbabwe. It is not that we are fighting Smith only or an illegal regime: we are also fighting apartheid itself, if you like, on the outskirts, although it is obviously not our strategy to conquer apartheid merely on the outskirts; but this has become inevitable precisely because there is an increasing degree of South African presence in Rhodesia and we in southern Africa have come to recognise that southern Africa will be conquered, as an area, when South Africa itself is conquered.

People are often concerned to know why there is silence, peace, quiet, in South Africa, as the South African Government claims, why the South Africans are fighting in Rhodesia? The reason is that South Africa is in a turbulent state under the surface, but the turbulence is approaching the surface and has been for some time. The clash that takes place in Zimbabwe, which involves South Africans, both supporters of apartheid and opponents of it, is an outgrowth of the conditions, the explosive conditions, within South Africa itself. Our supporters in the world should recognise that South Africa has an interest in maintaining a white minority government in Rhodesia and this is because it wants to defend and perpetuate the racist State in South Africa itself. I have said before, and I would like to repeat now, Mr. Chairman, that what we see happening in Rhodesia is the beginning of what we shall soon see happening inside South Africa itself and if today there is an explosion, an explosive situation, in Zimbabwe, which people can see, it is a matter of time before the same sort of explosion will be seen to take place in South Africa.

Withdraw Support to Apartheid Regime

Now there is an error which we make, which the world makes, of separating the evils of apartheid from the sources of power which maintain apartheid. Apartheid has continued to defy world opinion, even to resist our own determined efforts, not so much because it is in itself an evil and an unconquerable system, but simply because it is enabled to exist. It is enabled to exist by those who give support to it. Apartheid, like the African people of South Africa and all the oppressed people of southern Africa, can fight with support and the support which has made apartheid possible for so long is the financial support which it receives from outside South Africa, and in order to appreciate part of the determination of the racist regime in South Africa, one has to recognise that they have something to rely on, they have been given power.

It was in recognition of this that we have suggested to the international community two forms in which they can assist, and I want to emphasise that what we are asking the world to do is not to solve our problems for us but to assist us solve those problems. We have tried to ask that assistance be given in such a way that we can solve the problems peacefully. That has not been forthcoming and we are continuing to try to solve the problems with the methods that are available to us and the stage that has been reached is that the methods apparently available to us now are those which we have tried to resist over a long period of time. They are the methods of violence.

We have asked the world to assist at two separate levels - the one is to withdraw assistance from apartheid. Instead, that assistance has been increased. The demand that no arms should be supplied, that there should be no trade with South Africa, that there should be economic sanctions against South Africa, was a demand for withdrawal of the assistance which makes apartheid so difficult to conquer.

Assist the Liberation Movement Directly

The other form was not of withdrawing assistance, but giving assistance to us directly. There are countries in the world which do assist us materially, directly. The whole world supports us morally. Some countries, some people and some institutions give us assistance materially. Part of this assistance goes to our people generally, to the victims of apartheid. It goes for the defence of those who are being persecuted under the apartheid laws, it assists the dependents of the victims of apartheid. Part of the assistance should come directly to the liberation movement. This is the other aspect of assistance which comes to us.

We have appealed for direct assistance to the liberation movement, precisely because in the final analysis it is the liberation movement, it is the people of South Africa, acting politically, that will destroy apartheid, and if the world is so concerned about the destruction of apartheid and the removal of that scourge from mankind, the task of doing that rests on the liberation movement and there is every reason why we should come to Sweden as an organisation, as a liberation movement, and ask to be directly assisted. We have asked the United Nations to authorise this so that individual governments and peoples and countries will have no excuse for refusing us direct assistance.movements for humanitarian and social purposes.

Enforce Economic Sanctions against South Africa

There is another mistake we have made. Apartheid is like Hitlerism, Nazism. It will not be conquered by trying to talk to it, by only passing resolutions about it or by approaching it hesitatingly. It will not even be conquered by ordinary methods. It will be conquered by methods that are perhaps more drastic than in the ordinary case. When concern is expressed about the effectiveness of economic sanctions, I think that this reveals a failure to appreciate that nothing short of that will help to destroy apartheid. We have decided, and other people before us have decided, that we must sacrifice our lives, commit millions to massacre as the only method by which apartheid will be conquered. This is why we demand a willingness on the part of the world to make a similar sacrifice if it is true that apartheid is evil and a threat to international peace.

Some have said, and I do not want to say I agree with them, Mr. Chairman, that Vietnam is a horror of horrors, but a Vietnam in southern Africa would be an unprecedented horror of horrors. If this assessment is correct, the world is doing very little about it. This is what we are facing and have decided to face because the worst of all horrors in the world is to live forever as a slave, as a hated, despised, subhuman, and this we reject. Therefore, I would like to emphasise the call on the United Nations to enforce economic sanctions against South Africa. This would be effective even as against Rhodesia itself.

Sanctions against Rhodesia may be effective to a limit, but they are likely to be completely effective if, in the first instance, they were aimed at South Africa. Progressively, Rhodesia is going to depend, for its ability to resist the people, on the willingness of South Africa and its ability to support it. If there is a genuine determination to destroy Smith and to destroy colonial rule in Rhodesia, then that should express itself in determination to subject South Africa to economic sanctions.

Our own struggle has given a new meaning, I think, to the whole concept of pressures against apartheid. We feel that there should be an upgrading of the method of attack, that we should recognise that what is being done, which has been very good, Mr. Chairman, is not sufficient. It is totally inadequate. It helps to maintain an attitude of disapproval of apartheid, but it is not doing sufficient to destroy it. The armed struggle, which has been started, means that the rest of the world can participate in the fight against apartheid, by its sanctions, by increasing its own activities against apartheid in proportion to the sacrifices which we are making already.

Call for a New Level of Activity

A number of young people of Zimbabwe and African and Indian and Coloured people of South Africa, have died. Happily, they have not died alone. A war is starting and it has been costly in human lives, as much to us as to our enemies, but this is the beginning of a war which we said might develop into an international crisis of unpredictable proportions. It calls for new methods, new levels of activity at the international level. This is particularly so because this after all is Human Rights Year and as from last year we started preparing the ground for an upgraded attack and campaign against apartheid, by the armed struggle which opened in Zimbabwe a year ago. It provides a very good excuse for the United Nations adopting drastic action. It provides a very good excuse for individual countries, for Sweden among others, for Scandinavia, for all those which have shown a genuine interest and concern for the situation in southern Africa.

Human Rights Year should be the beginning of a new and more vigorous campaign in support of the armed struggle which, although as I have said is being waged geographically in Zimbabwe, is in fact and in reality a struggle against racism, against the South African apartheid system.

Leadership of the Struggle

There is one fact I would like to add and that is that the liberation movement in South Africa is divided into a number of parties. This has either been an excuse or a problem, giving rise to pessimism about the extent of the assistance that should be given to the liberation movement. Despite this, let it be recognised, I ask, Mr. Chairman, that leaders like Chief Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, might have been Presidents and Prime Ministers of independent States, but for the power of their enemy. The fact that they are not does not reduce their ability to tell the world what should be done about South Africa, even to lead the world on what should be done.

We attach a great deal of importance and we are very much appreciative of the statements such as you, Mr. Chairman, have made, emphasising that the leadership of the struggle against apartheid is in the hands of the African people themselves, of the liberation movement, and that the world should pay due regard to their opinions and their views and that they should be respected not as Heads of State but as heads and leaders of people. This has not always been our experience and we are grateful for the fact that you have made this point.

Support the Struggle

For the rest, Mr. Chairman, I might be required to answer questions arising from my paper, but I would like to take a little more of your time by making reference to an event in our history which has become central to our struggle. Chief Luthuli has told us over the course of his leadership over us, that what we need is courage that rises with danger. The Nationalist Party of South Africa, which came into power twenty years ago, came with a violence and viciousness that was new in many respects. We confronted them with a nonviolent approach to the struggle. They killed freely, and Chief Luthuli led us, the African National Congress led the people, and now this nonviolent approach became a militant form of struggle and we launched more campaigns. The more killings there were, the more pressure there was. This was courage rising with danger. When the killing took place in 1950 on a fairly massive scale, we decided to demonstrate against this, to intensify the struggle against apartheid pressure.a national stay-at-home on June 26, 1950. This was June 26th.

Since then, June 26th has been the centre, the peg on which we have hung many a campaign against racism in South Africa. It has come to symbolise the determination of our people to fight harder, the more severe and brutal the oppression. It is now the embodiment of our whole determination to carry on at all costs and we declared it a National Day which is now recognised and observed throughout the world. I hope that some day the United Nations will recognise the importance of our determined struggle, our ability to endure hardships in the fight for human justice, by recognising this particularly, because I think the emphasis must shift from sympathising with the victims of apartheid to supporting these victims in their struggle to conquer racism.



The Following are interventions by Oliver Tambo during the discussion

United Nations Group of Experts

I am particularly attracted by the thought-provoking contribution and remarks made by Her Excellency Mrs. Alva Myrdal. She has referred in particular to the Group of Experts of which she was the distinguished Chairman and before which I had occasion to appear in 1964. I recall that the recommendations made by her Group of Experts were promptly rejected by the South African Government, promptly but I think also predictably. Much of what was recommended could very conceivably have saved the anxiety and the concern of the people of the world and, in particular, could have served to prevent the occurrence of events which are already beginning to be tragic in southern Africa. The refusal by South Africa to accept any of these recommendations was characteristic. It has been the fate for all time of all and any recommendations that have been made, not only by the people of South Africa, but by the rest of mankind.

There were recommendations, however, in the report of the Group of Experts which failed to be considered and implemented by other than the South African Government. The people of South Africa, including the liberation movement, have had a great deal of interest in some of these. Her Excellency raised the question, is anything being done for example in the way of preparing the people for a takeover? She raises the question of educational schemes in which the South African people are themselves involved. I should like to say, Mr. Chairman, that this is a question which I hope will receive close examination in the course of the discussions that will follow in this session.


Her Excellency referred to questions of propaganda. There are two important areas which call for propaganda and I would like to mention one which is never mentioned, and that is propaganda and information for the white people in South Africa, particularly the Afrikaner majority of the white population. Their Government keeps them in complete ignorance, not only of the situation in South Africa, but of the opinions of world public. They are discouraged from reading other than Afrikaans papers. What they know of the world and the United Nations, or international public opinion, is what is given to them by the politicians who think very little, for example, of the Afro-Asian nations or of the resolutions by the United Nations on South Africa. One of the methods by which world public opinion will be brought to the threshold of every white house in South Africa is, incidentally, sanctions because where sanctions are enforced, they hit every individual, Africans, non-whites, whites. It is one form of breakthrough to a public which is living on top of a volcano and is unaware of it.

The attitude of whites in South Africa, particularly supporters of the Nationalist Party, is one of contempt for international opinion and this attitude is causing a deterioration in the situation, not only in South Africa, but in the whole of southern Africa. It seems to me, however, that it is precisely because the partners of South Africa are unwilling to enforce sanctions, that no serious effort has been made to pursue the kind of studies to which Mrs. Myrdal refers, studies which would make sanctions at least appear less impracticable than they have been claimed to be.


Mr. Chairman, I will deal with the questions raised by the distinguished representative of Ghana as quickly as I possibly can.

I can find no present basis on which any dialogue could take place between the United Nations Secretary-General and the South African racist regime, having regard to the history of the relations between that Government and the United Nations. It has been a history of persistent defiance, the last defiance relating to the issues over South-West Africa. I do not even think personally that South Africa deserves the courtesy of a visit by the United Nations Secretary-General.

South Africa`s whole attitude to the entire world is such that attention should be addressed not so much to the methods by which we can continue to seek to persuade and plead but to methods which are directed at compelling her, forcing her to comply. I would be readier to accept the idea of a dialogue between the United Nations Secretary-General and one of the major trading partners of South Africa. That, I think, is where a dialogue is called for, but not with the South African Government, and the attitude of the African National Congress would be one of opposition to any such dialogue.

Planning for a Non-racial South Africa

Next, Mr. Chairman, are the proposals put to the meeting by the Reverend Helander.plans for a future non-racial South Africa in consultation with the liberation movement. They are not directed at us but they involve our objectives and the purposes of our struggle and it is difficult to comment on them. They are a matter which I would have preferred to discuss so as to understand what is involved. The spirit of it is good, but we do have our Freedom Charter which sets out the kind of South Africa that we are fighting for. It contains the principles on which South Africa should be governed. The task of converting these principles into a constitution in all its detail has not been embarked upon because we think they are clear enough to indicate what would happen if we gained our freedom. But this question, particularly because it involves the possibilities of an offer from a government which has given freely and liberally to our struggle, is one which I would need to discuss even before it is examined by the Special Committee on Apartheid. It is something which falls peculiarly within our sphere of concern, namely the future South African State of the kind we are fighting for.

Differences among Whites

Then the other question, Mr. Chairman, about the conflict between the English and Afrikaans-speaking members of the white South African community. How far can the Africans make use of the conflicts between these two groups? Mr. Chairman, we have tried to do this over the years and over the years the chances of our employing these conflicts in our favour diminished for various reasons. One of them is that the English section is a minority of the white community. They are not in power: the ruling power is ruthless with the opposition of the black people, even with the opposition of the white English-speaking South Africans and Afrikaners themselves. I think what has happened is that the English have just decided to surrender to the regime and to serve it in terms of its dictates. At the moment, there is a unity in approach to the South African question, the apartheid question. There is unity between Afrikaners and non-Afrikaners on the white side.

As a liberation movement we must use all situations that are in our favour, but at the moment the chances in this field are limited. We expected them to be so limited. We expected that with the growth of an armed struggle, for quite some time there would be white unity ranged against black unity. This is why we fear that the conflict in South Africa is going to be of a racial character, although its objectives are nonracial.

The attitude of the masses towards the white rule cannot but be one of bitter opposition for natural reasons. We do not have to bring them into the struggle, they are in it. They are organised to participate under the leadership of the political party in various ways, most of which are unmentionable because we are an underground organisation and I could not explain what sort of organisation we have in the country. But opposition to apartheid is a mass opposition and a determined opposition. It is also a militant opposition in spite of the fact that the militancy does not show itself so that the whole world can know there is a struggle going on in South Africa.

Assistance to Zambia

Then there are the other questions by the distinguished representative of Nepal about the kind of assistance that should be given to the Republic of Zambia in the face of the developing situation there. I think that the best answer comes from the representatives of Zambia themselves. They realise what is happening and the problems and dangers that confront them - and I know that they have summed up the situation to the rest of the world, to the United Nations, to the African States - and I think it would be a little presumptuous on my part to say how they can be assisted.

But from the point of view of the liberation movement it is very important that the Zambian Government is assisted in the situation in which it finds itself, to step up the assault on the Smith regime and on apartheid, which the Zambian Government condemns daily. It is action along the lines of sanctions. Zambia can be assisted by assistance to the liberation movement which she supports. These are the forms of assistance which Zambia, I think, would appreciate.

Zambia is in danger precisely because there is a liberation war being fought south of it, and its danger increases the longer that struggle continues and the more serious it is, and the assistance to Zambia must take the form of defeating the enemies of Zambia along the lines which we have indicated - by assisting the liberation movement and also by sanctions and various forms of attack. Zambia prefers the use of force against Smith. This would help Zambia. It would remove the danger that Zambia is exposed to.

Fighting Spirit

Finally, Mr.Chairman, His Excellency Mr. Hans Tabor Ambassaor of Denmark and former Foreign Minister has touched on the need for the South African liberation movement to show a fighting spirit. I want to assure him that there is no lack of fighting spirit. Those who are close to the scene and have watched our activities must know that we have a history of militant struggle, even of war. We are essentially fighters. I recall the words of Chief Luthuli when he spoke in Oslo. He said, "our people have never been a docile people" - and he referred to the wars that have been fought with spears against guns and ammunition and bullets. That spirit survives today and if there is no evidence of it now, there will be ample evidence of it in the near future.