South Africa has for decades been the only country in the world which has codified the doctrine of racial superiority into a statutory system and established it as the basis of State ideology and policy. Our people spare no effort in their courageous fight against the evils of racism and make enormous sacrifices, but the system of racist and fascist enslavement has yet to be defeated. In South Africa the whites maintain their colonial rule over the black population, or the majority. The living and working conditions of the black population are worsening; the blacks are treated like colonial slaves. They have no political rights of any kind, no representation in parliament, no vote and exercise no power, even indirectly. Surely these features are most typical of classical colonialism.
Racism in South Africa has been used to divide the population not merely by isolated acts of discrimination, to draw a line of division between the white minority and the majority of the people. It expresses itself in apartheid, a system legalising what the racists would like to be permanent division along ethnic and tribal lines. the racists' fundamental strategy is to perpetuate the division of South Africans economically, socially and politically into a privileged white minority and a disinherited black majority.
Lastly, the regime divides the population according to tribal origins under the system notoriously known as the bantustan programme. Now attempts are being made - some initial steps have already been taken - to transform the bantustans into a constellation of supposedly independent mini-States, or appendages to fascist South Africa, all serving the interests of the white minority, of South African and international capital. The racists' aim is to make the enslavement of the majority of the people perpetual.
The apartheid regime retains its essential characteristics. Progressives should not be deluded by the steps it is taking to embellish its racist rule. Imperialist propaganda gives these steps quick publicity. One of them is the abolition of "petty apartheid". If they had come some 20 years ago, when we still believed that by peaceful demonstrations and protests and representations we could influence the regime into introducing changes and reforms, they might have been regarded as significant. But these purely cosmetic reforms come instead, at a time when colonialism has been all but banished, when the Vietnamese have won a heroic war against French colonialism and United States imperialism, when, by great sacrifices, Cuba has overthrown its tyrants and is building a socialist State, when Portuguese colonialism of many centuries' standing, has been demolished as the result of an armed struggle by the people of Mozambique, Angola and Guinea-Bissau, and when the people of Zimbabwe and Namibia are engaged in a broad struggle.
The slight, inconsequential adjustments made by the South African regime come much too late. Having lost faith in the possibility of bringing about substantive reforms, our people have begun an armed fight against racist rule, for the total transformation of our society. As for the modifications of apartheid we have mentioned, they leave racist rule essentially intact. Their purpose is to ensure the survival of an anti-popular regime, perpetuate imperialist domination and the oppression and exploitation of the black majority by a small minority. Faced with the growing liberation movement of the oppressed and exploited in the south of the continent and with an intensifying armed struggle in South Africa and neighbouring countries, the racists would like to maintain their positions by preserving the status quo.
The regime is looking around for individuals and groups among the black population in general and the Africans in particular whom it could install as local leaders controlled by it, above all in the "independent" bantustans. It plans to recruit from among the oppressed a black bourgeoisie linked to the system by selfish calculations and a drive for profit and hence willing to collaborate with the white oppressors and having a stake in the preservation of the system. It is desperately recruiting blacks into the white police force and the army. The entire trend of the regime's strategy is to try and get the oppressed and exploited to sustain their own oppression and exploitation.
The survival of the regime is a special concern of the multinationals directly responsible for plundering our country and developing countries of their natural resources and for the brutal exploitation of our people and the people of other countries. Between 1972 and 1978, nearly $8,000 million in loans from Western banks went to buttress the apartheid economy. The imperialists have invested more in our manufacturing industry than their total investment in similar enterprises on the entire African continent. Nowhere is the political motivation of this investment more apparent than in the efforts to assist the regime to meet its oil needs. In 1976 West German banks, many of them State-controlled, provided Pretoria's strategic oil fund with loans amounting to $440 million. Economic, military and political cooperation between South Africa and the imperialist powers is expanding rapidly. There is an obvious reason for this - imperialist setbacks in Asia, the greater part of Africa and in Latin America now compel the ruling circles of the West to hang on to their positions in South Africa, which abounds in natural resources.
The political forces active in South Africa could be identified as, first, the extreme right embodying the regime and led by the Nationalist Party; second, moderately liberal whites; and third, the revolutionary forces headed by the ANC and its allies. Unlike the ANC, the moderately liberal white opposition, represented in parliament by such organisations as the Progressive Federal Party, is actually against the total liberation of the black people. It favours minor reforms and has been outspoken about petty apartheid while taking care not to touch fundamental issues. It is people from this group that have been looking around for "moderate" Africans who could become available to the regime as collaborators. Moreover, there is common ground for collaboration between these whites and the fascist regime. It is their desire to preserve and consolidate the exploiting system. To blunt the edge of the revolutionary struggle, they have tried to build up "leaders" from among the Africans.
But as a rule, when the effort succeeds, these "leaders" begin to lose touch with the people and prove unable to influence the oppressed. In short, they become useless to those who have appointed them. This also applies to Africans who shatter the regime's hopes by refusing to collaborate with it after giving it cause to believe they would. For instance, the bourgeois press holds forth about the "moderation" of Buthelezi, an influential chief, whom it sees as a potential supporter of plans for giving the country a liberal face-lifting. Yet Buthelezi has turned out to be sensitive to the people's mood. He has refused to have anything to do with plans for declaring the "independence" of a major bantustan, KwaZulu, in contrast with such accommodating leaders as Chief Matanzima, the puppet head of the "independent" Transkei.
The fact is that those pseudo-independent bantustans cannot solve the problem. Popular discontent persists and this is highly indicative. South Africa has entered a period of its history when no reformist solution produces any tangible effect, especially when carried out according to a racist recipe. The growing revolutionary liberation struggle has spread to vast sections of the people in town and countryside. This offers new opportunities for the ANC.
Our analysis of developments shows that in our time repression and terror can fan the flames of the revolution and add to the people's discontent.
Our students and teachers have maintained magnificent unity against apartheid in education. They dare to challenge many expressions of white racist arrogance. South Africa's youth, who have often spearheaded this militancy, have kept alive the spirit of the 1976 uprising in Soweto.
Lately the black working class has demonstrated its militancy and potential by using its most powerful weapon, the withdrawal of its labour power, on numerous occasions to prevent the exploiters from making the workers pay for the crisis of the capitalist system. The working class of our country is the biggest on the African continent and its leverage among the economically active population is great. This class is objectively the main force of our revolution. It counters ruthless exploitation and racist discrimination by coming out more and more resolutely for its rights and social liberation.
The peasantry, for its part, is joining gradually in the fight against racism and colonialism. Many of the peasants brought to the cities as labour are not allowed to stay there indefinitely, they are eventually forced to return to the countryside. They take back with them their experience of participation in labour organisations and close association with the working class, which influences their political position.
The revolutionary forces comprise all anti-fascists and anti-racists. They include not only blacks but also democratic and progressive whites who condemn and fight the apartheid regime. Racism is criticised even by churches though in the past they collaborated with the regime. For some time past, many church leaders have identified themselves in significant measure with the cause of justice regardless of the consequences, which may take the form of repression and persecution.
A most important development is that units of Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the combat arm of the ANC, are spreading their armed presence in the country. The experience of our lifetime, including the experience of June 16, 1976 (the Soweto uprisings) and after, indicates that the issue of power, peace and justice in our country will be resolved in our favour only by an effective combination of political and armed activity targeted, however, not on persons but on the racist system.
The ANC is demonstrably a peace-loving people's movement, because the majority of the people of South Africa whom it has led for decades want nothing but peace.
In the 1950s, the militant struggles led by the ANC were governed by the principle of nonviolence. But in 1960 the racists' armed police opened fire on unarmed people demonstrating in Sharpeville. It was the police, incited by Vorster himself, who murdered nearly 1,000 children in Soweto alone in 1976. Then, how can we forget the great casualties inflicted by the racists and their leaders - Vorster, Botha and Smith - on the people of Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana, Angola, Namibia and Lesotho?
Our people have been unable to achieve their legitimate goals by nonviolent means. The experience of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe suggests that patriots cannot count on peaceful methods alone. The experience gained by the ANC over many years has led us to the conclusion that we must launch an armed struggle against apartheid. We are now making a special effort to this end. Being an illegal movement, due to the ban imposed in 1960, the ANC relies on building up a powerful countrywide underground organisation that lives with the masses. This organisation must be able to inspire the actions of the people and create conditions in which the armed force can grow.
To begin armed battles and guarantee our final victory, we must work harder to mobilise the masses. This means carrying out a twofold task: leaning on the growing political activity of the oppressed and exploited for support, while at the same time drawing them into the armed struggle. By mobilising the forces following us for the solution of specific local, regional and national problems, we help the masses realise the need to use what at this stage is the supreme method of revolutionary action. We consider that the masses must take up arms. Then, as they gain in class consciousness and in strength as the political army of the revolution, they will become its chief military combat force. This will result in steadily heightening the fighting efficiency of the ANC and winning it more fighters for its just cause. Today we see to it that our comrades take part in the increasingly numerous armed operations against the regime and strive to give the armed struggle for freedom a new dimension.
Our movement is inspired by the aims and objectives of the ANC approved over two decades ago. Our key goals are: to unite the African people in an effective instrument to secure their complete liberation from all forms of discrimination and national oppression; to promote and protect the interests of the African people in all matters affecting them; to create a united democratic South Africa on the principles outlined in the Freedom Charter; to support the cause of national liberation and the right to independence of nations in Africa and the rest of the world.
Our national liberation movement, like other present-day revolutionary contingents, maintains that its goal cannot be merely a fight to change the colour of the men at the head of the State. There was a time when just to do that was a great achievement, an enormous step toward Africa's total liberation. The people of Mozambique, Angola and other countries owe their splendid victories in no small measure to the fact that in the 1970s there were independent African States as distinct from the 1950s. They constituted an impressive force and acted together in the Organisation of African Unity against imperialism, colonialism and racism. But many African leaders recognised that that independence was not complete, that it lacked many essential characteristics of genuine national independence.
The ANC has learned that lesson. In defining our tasks, we take into account the general development trends of the world revolutionary struggle. The African liberation movement considers that unless it is total, liberation is nonexistent; therefore, it has to be either total liberation or continued war for liberation. This was demonstrated by events in Angola, where the people won the war and achieved total liberation. A struggle for total liberation is now going on in Namibia and Zimbabwe. In South Africa too, untold sacrifices are made and people give their lives to bring about final victory and a radical transformation of the country. The people of Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa took up arms to remove both colonialism and neo-colonialism, win total liberation and establish their own political and economic rule.
The record of liberation struggles in southern Africa shows that the struggle throughout the continent increasingly acquires an anti-neo-colonialist orientation.
In more general terms, the struggle of the ANC is important because it is directed against a regime not only oppressing our black people but also serving as a laboratory and a breeding-ground of international racism. Here there are formed and nurtured the bacilli which continually feed the diseases of racist arrogance, hatred and racial discrimination. This fact was recognised by world opinion, which emphatically condemned the man-hating ideology and practices of apartheid. In recent years the international movement against the evils of racism has assumed unprecedented dimensions; new important measures were adopted against the apartheid State and in support of the struggle of South Africa's oppressed and exploited. The ANC hailed the decision of Iran to cut the supply of oil to the racist regime of South Africa, thereby depriving it of 90 per cent of its imported oil, which during the Shah's reign came from Iran. The decision of Nicaragua and El Salvador to sever diplomatic relations with fascist South Africa underscored the growing isolation of the regime. The lawful measures taken against foreign oil companies in Nigeria, where they acted in violation of the country's boycott of South Africa,(2) were very important to the people's struggle in the south of the continent.
The tremendous role of the southern African countries in aiding our liberation struggle is common knowledge. Yet these countries themselves make enormous sacrifices for final victory over colonialism and racism. We have the backing of the Organisation of African Unity, the non-aligned countries and some West European States. Our people enjoy the solidarity of numerous liberation movements in other parts of the globe, the working people of capitalist countries and the masses in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We respond by identifying ourselves with their struggle against imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism, against oppression and exploitation.
Special mention must be made of the support given to the people of southern Africa by the Soviet Union, the German Democratic Republic and other socialist countries. They are in the van of the global fight against imperialism and this predetermines the decisive role which their support plays in the cause of liberation. These countries are our tried and tested allies, as events in Angola and Guinea-Bissau and the struggle of the people of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and other countries have shown.
The leaders of liberation movements and all embattled peoples welcome this assistance, for it enables them to defend the ideals of freedom, justice, democracy and progress all the more effectively. 1 From: World Marxist Review, Toronto, Vol. 23, No.3, March 1980