We greet you all in the name of the liberation movements of southern Africa, in the name of SWAPO of Namibia, the Patriotic Front of Zimbabwe and the African National Congress of South Africa. We thank Professor Adedeji and the entire leadership of the ECA that they thought it proper that we should join in celebrating this important day, the 21st Anniversary of the foundation of the Economic Commission for Africa.
Historical circumstance has imposed on our region the situation, so well known to all of us here, in which questions of war and peace must perforce take precedence over everything else. We who come from Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, the hotbeds of war in our region, should perhaps not even attempt to talk of anything else except war because it is quite clear that the conditions to establish a just and stable peace in southern Africa do not as yet exist. They do not exist, not because of the absence of will on the part of the oppressed peoples to see the dawn of peace in their countries and their continent, nor because of the absence of willingness to pay the supreme sacrifice to bring about such a result. Rather, they do not exist because the white minority regimes are only prepared to accept a colonialist or a neo-colonialist peace, a racist peace - a peace which can only hold because it is maintained and enforced with weapons of terror and war.
That kind of peace ceased to exist for all time in our countries when the first stones were hurled and the first shots fired in the wars of liberation now raging in our region. We are therefore obliged to talk of war until a popular peace prevails in our countries, our region and our continent.
Yet as they go through the travails of bitter struggles to liberate themselves, our peoples also entertain a vision which is common to everybody in this hall. That is a vision of a future in which we shall no longer experience the haunting spectacle of a child rummaging through refuse heaps, searching for rotten morsels of food. It will be then when we shall no longer experience the terrible destitution of our peoples that is the heritage of colonial and imperialist domination and the continuing unequal relations between the powerful economic centres of the Western world and our continent.
To that extent we count ourselves as co-participants in the ECA, fellow builders of a future for our peoples free from hunger, homelessness, disease and a crippling ignorance. More fundamentally, the people that are dying throughout this region are doing so in part to create the conditions that will ensure the full realisation of the objectives of the ECA.
The colonial systems that continue to prevail in southern Africa are an arrangement whereby the white minority predicates its own developing wellbeing on the continuous impoverishment of the black majority. Naturally therefore these systems seek also that their relations with the rest of Africa should be such that any economic integration or cooperation realised transforms Africa into a reserve for the enrichment of the same colonial forces that are dominant in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
In practice this means that development and underdevelopment exist in an inverse organic relationship as a necessary rather than an accidental feature of southern African reality. The struggles taking place in the region for the seizure of power by the people must therefore inevitably and necessarily aim to destroy this relationship. We must aim to establish a social order in which development does in fact mean the banishment or eradication of underdevelopment and not the supervision by black governments of a kind of development which is achieved by ensuring the underdevelopment of the majority.
The fundamental objective for which we have organised ourselves into the ECA is, as well, the struggle for development, against underdevelopment. By definition, that has to be a struggle for the upliftment of the poor, for the emancipation of the exploited. It must, therefore, be a struggle against colonial and imperialist domination in all their forms, including, and especially, the virulent and entrenched forms that characterise this domination in the unliberated countries of southern Africa.
It must also be a struggle for the birth of a new international economic order in which development occupies a central place, a type of development away from that process of advance in the world which, for Africa, has meant adverse and worsening terms of trade. This has meant the transformation of our mono-cultures into a millstone around the necks of the African peoples which has meant the so-called aid programmes which end up with whole countries mortgaged to the donors. Many other arrangements are sold to us as development schemes, but these enhance the dependence of our countries and render more endemic the social disease of underdevelopment.
In this region these positions must of necessity mean that we must join together to frustrate the expansionist economic aims which apartheid South Africa is once more raising with growing insistence. It is a matter of importance that the ECA has already commended the resolutions of the Migratory Labour Conference, "calling for reorientation of the economies of the [migrant labour] supplier countries through the promotion of development strategies and accelerated economic development aimed at reducing their dependence on South Africa".
It is therefore not accidental that over the years there has developed a close working relationship between the ECA and the liberation movements which has now been crowned by the resolution of the Conference of Ministers in Rabat in March this year, calling on the Commission to respond directly to requests for assistance by liberation movements recognised by the OAU.
This is as it should be, because in a direct and immediate sense, the struggles for national liberation in southern Africa and those of the countries of independent Africa for economic liberation and development are indeed the same struggle, confronting the same enemy, their successful outcome conditional on the extent to which we can together maintain our unity of purpose and action and our mutual solidarity.
In this context we are convinced that the warning sounded by His Excellency President Kaunda a few days ago about the new schemes of the racist regimes and their allies deserves the serious attention of the peoples of Africa and the world.
If we may quote the President, here, in part, is what he said:
"Imminent defeat is forcing the enemy of liberation to change the nature of the liberation wars...[He] seeks to convert the liberation struggle in southern Africa to an ideological war into which, he hopes, he can draw directly what he imagines are conflicting ideological interests of the socialist East and the capitalist West... If he can ignite these forces, then, he thinks, he will have succeeded in erupting new tensions in our region which will dwarf and supersede the current liberation wars."
President Kaunda warned that the enemies of liberation are seeking to generalise the war taking it into the rest of Africa, to be settled perhaps as far north as North Africa. In the name of the Zambian people he made this pledge - which should be the battle cry of all the peoples of Africa: "We will not allow ourselves to walk into the trap and fall victim of the enemy, helping him to break the resistance of the progressive forces... To defeat the enemies of freedom in Namibia, the progressive forces must fight and defeat the enemy. They must do the same in Zimbabwe and South Africa."
Indeed, if we may take the liberty to add, to defeat the enemies of development and social progress in Africa, the progressive forces must fight and defeat the enemy. Our common enemy is gambling on a pathological anti-communism that is prevalent among some Western circles. He is calculating that he can provoke the "capitalist West" into believing that it is about to lose southern Africa as its sphere of influence to the "socialist East" and thereby drive the former into a frenzy leading it to intervene in southern Africa to save the racist regimes from the imminent defeat that confronts them. We, none of us are fighting and dying in southern Africa to convert ourselves and our countries into somebody's sphere of influence and our enemies are perfectly aware of that.
The fact is that the racist regimes of southern Africa, the multinational corporations, imperialism cannot accept a solution in southern Africa and Africa as a whole which will guarantee all our peoples a life free from hunger, joblessness and exploitation. They cannot accept a solution which guarantees the most basic of all human rights, the right to life.
For that, they are prepared to engulf Africa in a terrible war to destroy the little that we have constructed and guarantee themselves the right to dictate to the continent under what conditions and for what purposes its peoples will be allowed merely to exist, and thus regain a position which they lost with the collapse of the colonial system in Africa.
We are today celebrating twenty-one years of persistent work by the peoples of Africa to confront, and solve in unity, questions and problems that bear on the creation of an African society in which the immediate question facing our peoples should be - what can we do to improve the quality of our lives, and not, like the beasts of the forest, what can we do to survive!
It is our collective progress towards a correct resolution of those questions and problems that has driven the enemy to the desperate and dangerous conspiracies that he is hatching today.
The brutal regimes of Botha and Smith have already embarked on the first stage of this conspiracy with the campaign of terror that they are jointly conducting in all the countries of southern Africa without exception. The sickening charade we are now being subjected to in Zimbabwe with Smith's so-called elections, the preparations in Namibia to declare yet another illegal and criminal independence, the bantustan programme in South Africa and the attempt to win over the Indian and Coloured people to the side of the racists through the so-called three-tier parliament - these are all part of the maturation of a plan which seeks to keep us enslaved.
Many years of struggle have however steeled our peoples and our organisations to weather the harshest of enemy offensives. We know that Africa is with us. We know that the rest of democratic, anti-racist and progressive mankind is with us. These forces together are more than a match for the racists and their allies. Our victory is both certain and inevitable.
In as much as the ECA has, for twenty-one years, played its full and decisive part in shaping that orientation which today frightens our common adversary so much, so are we entitled to expect that when we gather again in this hall to celebrate the next important anniversary in the life of the Economic Commission for Africa, it will be in the presence of new members of the ECA, three of them originating from southern Africa - members who, in continuation of the path already charted by the present members, will be dedicated to a struggle for the upliftment of the poor and the emancipation of the exploited in conditions of a secure, just and popular peace in this region.
In the name of the suffering and struggling people of Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, on behalf of Comrade Presidents Sam Nujoma, Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe and, on behalf of the ANC we say many happy returns of the day!
A luta continua.
1 From: Africa's Economic Independence: Addresses by H.E. The President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. K.D. Kaunda; Executive Secretary of UNECA, Dr. A. Adedeji; and ANC (SA) President, Mr. O.R. Tambo on the occasion of the celebration of the 21st anniversary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Lusaka, 1979. Pamphlet published by the Government of Zambia.