"The MPLA has always had the closest relations with the ANC - for well over ten years - and together with FRELIMO of the People's Republic of Mozambique, PAIGC of Guinea-Bissau and MLSTP of Sao Tome and Principe worked closely as part of an alliance of liberation movements bound by the same objectives in their struggle. The victory of these liberation movements over Portuguese colonialism is a victory for the people of South Africa, for the continent of Africa and for progressives the world over. It was clear ever since 1964 that MPLA faced special problems in Angola because of the much greater imperialist involvement in the economy of the country. The fact that the independence of Angola under MPLA was proclaimed with the capital ringed round by invading forces was for that reason hardly surprising. The emergence of the People's Republic of Angola, despite this racist and fascist offensive, was the triumph of the struggle of the Angolan people and was hailed by all those who had supported the MPLA's struggle against Portuguese fascism.

"At the independence celebrations, the ANC tried unsuccessfully to send a delegation headed by our Secretary General, but because of a breakdown in communication the delegation did not reach Luanda. It therefore became necessary that as soon as possible I should pay a visit to the newly independent African State, to affirm the expressions of solidarity and continued support for the MPLA in its new and unfolding struggle for the unification of its country and its economic construction. I wanted to convey by the visit the hearty congratulations of the working people, the oppressed, the progressive elements of South Africa, on the decisive military victory scored by FAPLA (the People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola) over the invading troops of the South African racist regime.

"Few events in the history of the South African struggle in the past sixty years (since the formation of ANC) could be regarded as more significant than the defeat of the invading South African army in Angola by the Angolan people under the leadership of the MPLA.

"There are developments in the past three or four years which can be regarded as generating a change in the fortunes of white minority rule in southern Africa - the humiliation administered to the racist invaders in Angola is most certainly one of these developments, and points more clearly than anything else to the change in the balance of forces favouring the peoples hitherto subjected to colonial racist domination.

A Day to Remember

"By a curious chance my arrival in Luanda, which had been delayed for several weeks, coincided with MPLA's Secretary General Lucio Lara's visit to Southern Angola, which had also been postponed several times. Even more significantly, as we travelled to Sa Da Bandeira, now known as Lubango, on Friday, March 26, the United Nations Security Council was debating the invasion of Angola by troops of the South African racist regime. On the following day, as we drove further south towards the border with Namibia, the South Africa troops were completing their retreat from Angolan soil. This was March 27 and stands out for Angola, for MPLA militants and members of FAPLA, as a date to be remembered in their history. It marked the end of a period of eight or nine months which witnessed a great demonstration of international solidarity and the implementation of the policies of internationalism - by Cuba and the Soviet Union, and by Nigeria and Tanzania among other countries, who had rallied with other countries to the call of the MPLA for support in its struggle against the imperialist, invading forces. The 27th of March was the second great victory for the people of Angola. They had their first in alliance with FRELIMO, PAIGC and MLSTP when they defeated Portuguese colonialism after more than ten years of bitter struggle. This victory was followed immediately by a neo-colonialist invasion that featured the South African racist regime and brought in fascist mercenaries, puppets and CIA agents into an allied front to deprive the Angolan people of the gains made in fourteen years of struggle. The MPLA has defeated and frustrated this attempt and in the process has provided the liberation struggle in the rest of Southern Africa with many useful lessons to learn for the future course of the offensive directed to the total liberation of the continent.

"When in South Angola I had the privilege of meeting members of FAPLA, particularly a detachment of FAPLA which was reported to consist of the veterans of the war against Portuguese colonialism and who had been in the various fronts of the invasion which started last year, and they were experts in the handling of sophisticated artillery, had driven tanks and had handled anti-aircraft weapons and were competent in all the technical fields of military conduct."

Cuba's Contribution

Commenting on "a Western campaign against the MPLA and Angola which suggested that fighting in Angola was done by the Cubans without any meaningful participation by members of FAPLA", President Tambo said that the Cubans had made a great and unforgettable contribution but FAPLA did not play a secondary role in any sense. On the presence of tanks manufactured in the Soviet Union, he remarked: "We recall that the defeated South African army had been purchasing from the West the most sophisticated weapons - ever since the 1960s - and had boasted shortly before its defeat of its military strength. The myth was destroyed by men who had been hardened in struggle over a period of fourteen years and it was a source of inspiration to know that no African country, however newly independent, need be subject to domination, harassment or bullying by a fascist regime if it is determined to defend its sovereignty and knows who its genuine friends are."

On the multiracial composition of MPLA and FAPLA, he concluded:

"The significant aspect of the MPLA forces which defeated the racists is that they are not divided racially, according to whether the person is white, brown or black - they are simple Angolans. This is the kind of South Africa we are going to have."