Mr. Chairman, President Comrade Fidel Castro,
I have been assigned the great honour, as leader of the African National Congress delegation, to propose a vote of thanks on behalf of the national liberation movements. I should like to thank, first of all, my colleagues, the leaders of these movements, for entrusting this task to the people of South Africa - and, in their name, in the name of the peoples of South Africa and Namibia, Zimbabwe, Palestine, the people of Western Sahara, and all the peoples who are fighting under the leadership of the national liberation movement.
We greet you, Mr. Chairman; we greet you and salute you, Your Majesties, Excellencies and distinguished delegates. We greet you on this soil of socialist Cuba, a land liberated through the sacrifices of the Cuban people from a long period of domination by colonialism and dictators, a land which has been set free for mankind.
I should like to begin by adding the appreciation of the liberation movements of the services rendered to the Non-Aligned Movement by the outgoing Chairman. It would be a mistake to suppose that liberation movements regard themselves either as outsiders to the Non-Aligned Movement or members somewhat on the periphery of this Movement. The fact is that we regard it as our Movement.
The Chairman at any given time of the Non-Aligned Movement is entrusted with the conduct of affairs which touch the future of millions of people, including our own people. Today we have listened to the message of Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro. We should like to pay tribute to his revolutionary dedication to the cause of the ordinary man. An outstanding leader, whose name has become a household name, certainly among peoples who are struggling against imperialism, colonialism and all these vices; certainly among people who, like the Cuban people, are conducting armed struggle for the liberation of their countries and their peoples. We have always been inspired by the mere mention of this name.
We are not alone in this experience. I myself had the privilege to participate in the Youth Festival which was hosted by Cuba last year and watched young people who came from all over the world react to the presence of Comrade Fidel Castro. There could be no doubt that President Fidel Castro is an idol of the young people of this world, a leader who is honoured not only in his own land but in other lands as well.
We in South Africa and southern Africa, we as members of the liberation movement, would like today to salute this hero of the liberation struggle, this hero of the people.
In doing so, we extend our greetings to the Cuban people, whom we have come to know not merely by meeting them in their own country but because they live with us in Africa; they fight with us; they die with us; they fail, and they win with us. They have become part of the struggling people of our continent. We are happy to be with them today, and we appreciate the warmth with which we have been received. We appreciate, too, the fact that as liberation movements, normally regarded as a group aside, here in Cuba, as in many African countries, heads of delegations of liberation movements have been received and are housed and attended to here as Heads of State of the countries whose people they represent. We believe that this is in the true spirit of the Non-Aligned Movement. I shall elaborate on that a little later.
First of all, Comrade Chairman, I would like to comment briefly on some of the points which were made in the statement - the brilliant, historic statement - delivered to this historic Conference by the President of the Republic of Cuba. As liberation movements, we have been aware of manoeuvres, of attempts, of schemes to prevent this great Summit taking place - only because the host country was Cuba. We should like to express our delight at the fact that a record number of countries are represented here; a record number of Heads of State and Government are attending this Conference. This is a resounding defeat of the efforts to destroy not just the possibilities of a non-aligned meeting being held in Cuba but to destroy the Non-Aligned Movement itself. This response of the members of this Movement is a demonstration of their commitment to keep this Movement alive so that it can struggle and fight for the hundreds of millions of people whom we all represent here today.
We, as liberation movements, are in no way surprised at the suggestion that somehow one of the most principled countries of this world, one of the most principled leaders of our times, is being accused of the possibility of being a puppet of another leader, of other countries, even of a great Power. We dismiss these accusations with the contempt they deserve.
We think President Fidel's Cuba is the last country to yield to any pressures from any quarter of the globe. To suggest that Cuba might be a puppet of the Soviet Union is to insult the very concept of independence, to suggest that no one, no country, no leader, no people who have fought for independence are capable of that independence. We know this has been said of countries like Mozambique and the People's Republic of Angola. Any newly independent country which won its independence thanks to the support of the socialist countries is merely immediately labelled as a puppet of one or other of the socialist countries, but we know these countries. We know President Machel and President Neto. We know President Kaunda, President Nyerere. We know all these leaders, and we know that these accusations are part of the struggle to defeat the forces of progress and liberation. We also know that, as in the past, these efforts will fail.
Cuba's "crime", as a socialist country, a revolutionary country, a friend of socialist countries, is precisely the crime of the national liberation movement. It is a crime to have a friend who supports you, who responds to your request, who is ready to die with you in the struggle against imperialism. It is a crime even to liberate yourself.
We have had these accusations levelled at us. We have friends in the socialist countries. Yugoslavia is a socialist country. They have supported our struggle to the hilt all the time. The Soviet Union, Cuba, many socialist countries have made it possible for many of the Heads of State who are here today to survive, to win, to become leaders of independent countries. That was a crime against imperialism. We understand it.
Comrade Chairman, it is not conceivable to us that the Non-Aligned Movement - which has grown in strength thanks to the solid foundations upon which it was built by the great rebel and revolutionary who is with us today (and others of his comrades who are no more with us), President Tito - a Movement which has grown from a small, comparatively small body with a membership of 25 countries, which now boasts of a membership of nearly 90 countries - we do not accept it that such a body could be turned simply by Cuba into a puppet of the Soviet Union. We think it is impossible to believe that. It is to have no faith, again, in the hundreds of millions of people in whose name we assemble here today; no faith in the power of the Non-Aligned Movement, which today is a force on its own merits and which can move around the world proudly at its own pace, choosing its own friends, choosing its own course of progress to the future. We do not think that such a powerful body, which has grown in the course of struggle precisely against imperialism and fascism - we do not believe that such a body can become a tool of anyone except itself. Least of all can one country make it such a tool.
Comrade Fidel Castro spoke touchingly about the people led by my brother and comrade Yasser Arafat and his colleagues, the PLO; and it is a moving experience for us to listen to such a description of the enormity of the crime that is being perpetrated against the Palestinian people, but precisely the size of that crime is the reason why the people of Palestine, led by the PLO, have stayed in the struggle, have made the sacrifices and will continue to fight until the goals which they have set for themselves are achieved.
We welcome the support which has been extended to the PLO. The same kind of support has been extended to the people of Zimbabwe, who have been terrorised by a small minority of racists supported by mercenaries and by the imperialist Powers, who have unnecessarily had to sacrifice thousands of their men, women and children fighting against a regime that has no case whatsoever, whose only basis for continued existence - as it continues to exist - is that it is supported by imperialism, by the great Powers of the West.
But the Patriotic Front has advanced its struggle to this level thanks to the support of the member States and organisations of the Non-Aligned Movement, and we believe that the time is close by when this struggle will be won by the people of Zimbabwe and by the leadership of the Patriotic Front.
These comments apply - what I have said applies - equally to the people of Namibia. It is the irony of our struggle that a regime which has been denounced as illegal; a regime which has stolen a mandate; a brutal, racist, fascist, murderous regime continues to occupy Namibia. But, again, the people of Namibia, under the leadership of SWAPO, supported by the entire world - exclusive of the imperialists - have created the possibilities of the imminence of victory for the people of Namibia.
I cannot take up your time on South Africa. Most certainly, Comrade Fidel Castro has covered that field adequately. The apartheid issue has been before the world community for more than thirty years now. No word of condemnation has not been uttered. What has been lacking is perhaps what Comrade Fidel Castro described as a progression from rhetoric to action. There are resolutions upon resolutions - which, if implemented, would have brought down the apartheid regime of South Africa because of the resolute struggle waged by the people under the most difficult conditions in that country. But there is a shift in our favour, even within South Africa; and, therefore, the support which we have received has not been in vain.
I should like to comment, Comrade Chairman, briefly on the case of Western Sahara. The POLISARIO is fighting a surprising war. We would have thought that our brothers and seniors in the OAU and friends of the people of Africa could have persuaded King Hassan that the course that he has embarked upon is not deserved by the people of Morocco. We cannot understand. The experience of the people of Western Sahara is the first kind of experience that we can think of since the struggle for decolonisation started in Africa. No African country that we know of has done what has been done to the people of Western Sahara. But, be that as it may, the reality is that the POLISARIO is having to fight for the liberation of Western Sahara not from Spain but from a brother African country. We have no doubt that the struggle of the people of Western Sahara will be victorious.
The Canary Islands, Comrade Chairman, are not often mentioned as often as we should like them to be. This is part of Africa. They are not independent. We would like to commend them to the attention of this august body in its deliberations for the independence of peoples.
The Non-Aligned Movement, as looked at by the national liberation movements, is, as I said earlier, a body to which we all belong, and the forces to which we belong - defined in terms of the struggle that we are waging - are the anti-imperialist forces, forces that are anti-racist and anti-fascist, that oppose neo-colonialism and exploitation, forces that are opposed to Zionism. We believe that it is in the course of this kind of struggle that the Non-Aligned Movement has developed its strength; that the Non-Aligned Movement has developed the capacity to grow, to conquer, to be victorious. In our view, nothing should ever be allowed to tamper with the characterisation of the Non-Aligned Movement as anti-racist, anti-imperialist. That characterisation puts the Non-Aligned Movement in its entirely, member by member, against the forces of imperialism, which have ensured the survival to date of racist South Africa, of the racists of Rhodesia, the continued domination of Namibia - forces which, as Comrade Fidel Castro has said, are now engaging in bombing, destroying, killing men, women and children in the Lebanon and southern Africa.
Because of its commitment, therefore, to this anti-imperialist struggle, the Non-Aligned Movement has an equal commitment to the support of those countries who are the immediate victims of this imperialist-orchestrated aggression. These countries have been mentioned - in southern Africa, the Frontline States - and we urge this because the progress of our own struggle depends upon the strength of these countries and their capacity to resist, to fight off and defeat this aggression. Therefore, we appeal to the Non-Aligned Movement not merely to express vocal support for the victims of racist aggression in southern Africa but to devise a scheme whereby that support can find practical expression.
We have always thought it necessary to mention that, although Swaziland and Lesotho have not as yet been bombed, they are in that situation and in various ways are subject to pressure and need themselves the support of the Non-Aligned Movement, as they need the support of the whole anti-racist, anti-colonialist community. We believe that these countries, which share borders with South Africa, are already offering us facilities, though limited, which add to the possibilities for the advance of our struggle.
Comrade Chairman, finally, in expressing appreciation for the kind of support that we have received, we would like to say that we appreciate the support of the African countries, individually and collectively, and the great sacrifices that are being made. We thank them for the officials who sit at desks doing nothing but deal with the problems of the liberation struggle. This is to be found in many countries. Therefore, we are not fighting alone.
We as liberation movements are only the tip of the iceberg which spreads and embraces much of the progressive world. Among our supporters are the organisations in Europe, socialist countries, the United Nations and its sub-organs, the officials who sit and plan and think and worry under the aegis of the Special Committee on Apartheid. Our friends and supporters are to be found in the Caribbean countries and in America, North and South; as far away as Australia. They are to be found in the Middle East and everywhere. All these people we should like to mention here today as those forces which have made it possible for the liberation movements to survive determined attempts at their elimination and who have made it possible for us to score the victories on which we shall be reporting later during the course of these deliberations.
Comrade Chairman, I should like finally to say that, in our view, the next three years separating this Summit from the next one will be crucial in this struggle against imperialism and colonialism, racism, apartheid - even Zionism. We wish the oncoming Chairman of this body all the success which he can be assured from the cooperation of the member States. That cooperation, limited as it must be, will be forthcoming certainly from us as leaders of the peoples still fighting for liberation.
We would like to commend, in the spirit of moving from rhetoric to action, the decisions of the OAU Summit held in Monrovia in an atmosphere which President Tolbert referred to as the spirit of Monrovia. Those resolutions, from our point of view, go a long way to meet the kind of demands and requests and proposals for action which we would want to make at this Conference.
Again, Comrade Chairman, I should like, on behalf of the liberation movements, to give you the assurance that our struggle, with your support, cannot but succeed - that victory is certain.
1 From: Addresses delivered at the Sixth Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-aligned Countries, Havana, September 3-9, 1979, published by the Government of Cuba