Your Excellency, Comrade President Kenneth Kaunda, President of UNIP and of the Republic of Zambia,
Honourable members of the Central Committee of UNIP,
Your Excellencies, distinguished Heads of State and Government, and foreign delegations,
Distinguished delegates to the tenth General Conference,
Fellow freedom fighters,
Comrades and friends,
Permit me in the first instance to place on record the sincere gratitude of the African National Congress for the invitation extended to us by the Central Committee of the United National Independence Party to be here today and to share with the broad leadership of the people of Zambia this rare moment in the history of their Party and country - a moment made the more significant by the distinguished presence of a galaxy of Heads of State as well as delegations from many African and other fraternal countries.
Allow me to convey warm fraternal greetings from the National Executive Committee and the entire membership of the ANC, as well as from the struggling masses of the people of South Africa, to this historic tenth General Conference of the United National Independence Party. On this occasion we salute, especially our brother and leader, the indefatigable father of the Zambian nation, illustrious son of Africa and world statesman, His Excellency President Kenneth David Kaunda.
The tenth General Conference assembles at a time of great developments and challenges for the nations of the world both individually and collectively, both regionally and internationally. With characteristic clarity and broad political vision, President Kaunda has outlined in his report to conference a vivid picture of these developments and challenges, demonstrating in the process not only the further consolidation of the socio-political life of Zambian society but also a radical improvement of the international climate heightening the prospects for lasting peace on earth. Needless to say, these positive trends have been taking place in the face of stiff resistance by various international forces, among them the apartheid regime in South Africa, whose war of destabilisation continues to wreak havoc in the region of southern Africa.
Bothe Regime in Crisis
Indeed, the catalogue of acts of aggression, economic destabilisation and destruction of life and property in the region during the five years since the ninth General Conference is staggering, to say nothing of the devastation of previous years.
Within South Africa itself, a new wave of repression and terror has been unleashed on the people. The state of emergency, now in its fourth year, is not only an act of State terror, it is also a cover for gruesome atrocities perpetrated against the people. The dungeons of the Pretoria regime are bursting at the seams with the arbitrary imprisonment of leaders and activists of the democratic movement. In addition to the Sharpeville six, there are scores of patriots presently in apartheid death cells, and executions are continuing as more patriots are being sentenced to death in an endless succession of political trials.
The Botha regime finds itself sinking deeper and deeper into a crisis it is unable to resolve, precisely because the regime's intensification of repression has the effect of heightening the tide of the advancing revolutionary onslaught of our people. They remain unshaken in their resolve to remove apartheid from the face of the earth. What is more, they have been steeled in struggle by the very harshness of apartheid brutality and have become irrepressible. The armed struggle has become a permanent feature of the South African political landscape and armed actions by the People's army, Umkhonto we Sizwe, have multiplied.
Botha has other problems: The white minority base of the regime is fast disintegrating. In addition to the continuing drift to the left and to the right, only recently 143 white youth defiantly rejected induction into the South African Defence Force on the basis of their refusal to defend the apartheid system. This is but the tip of an iceberg of disaffection. And the white community in South Africa are increasingly demanding to know what it is that Angola has done against South Africa to necessitate their children dying in hundreds on Angolan soil. The question may soon be a matter of history.
South African troops have started withdrawing from southern Angola in terms of agreements reached in negotiations aimed at ending South African aggression against Angola and securing the independence of Namibia.
A Giant Step Toward Liberation
The African National Congress hails these achievements as a victory for much-needed peace in the region. The process has begun which could end thirteen years of war in the People's Republic of Angola and decades of foreign domination and armed occupation in Namibia. The independence of Namibia will constitute a giant step towards the total liberation of Africa, for, it will be followed, as it must, by the emergence at the southern tip of the continent of a liberated South Africa - nonracial, democratic and united.
There is, however, nothing to show that the South African regime is as enthusiastic over the prospect of a liberated South Africa or an independent Namibia under a SWAPO Government as the rest of us are.
It is also significant that while on the one hand, Pretoria has shown itself to be in tune with and is involved in international efforts to resolve regional conflicts, on the other hand, it is mounting a violent offensive against forces within South Africa who seek peace through the elimination of the apartheid system, which is the sole cause of the conflict in the entire region of southern Africa. These are contradictory positions which the regime needs to reconcile. All this makes it impossible to suppress the fear that the Botha regime may be carrying a hidden agenda for the negotiating process. Besides, Pretoria's track record with respect to respect for and adherence to international treaties is, to say the least, not very reassuring.
Nothing that we have said, however, takes away from the critical importance of the negotiations and the need to see them succeed in their set objectives, whatever obstacles may arise from time to time.
Appreciation for Support
From the rostrum of this tenth General Conference I, on behalf of my organisation, wish to register our profound appreciation of the worldwide support we received from the international community on the occasion of the 70th birthday of our leader and colleague, Comrade Nelson Mandela. The youth and people of Zambia led by President Kenneth Kaunda fittingly marked the occasion in a massive rally at State House. His Excellency, Comrade President Kaunda, once again used the occasion to underline his deep commitment, as well as that of the Party, the Government and the people of Zambia, to the destruction of the apartheid system and its replacement by new socio-economic and political order free of racism, oppression and exploitation of man by man.
The massive response of the international community on this occasion further underlined the phenomenal growth of the international solidarity movement against apartheid. What remains is to further harness this international movement, inter alia, by intensifying the calls for:
- The imposition of comprehensive mandatory sanctions against apartheid South Africa;
- The rendering of assistance by the international community to the Frontline States;
- All-round assistance and support for the liberation struggle.
Our struggle against the apartheid system, like that of SWAPO of Namibia, enjoys the generous and revolutionary support of many parties and countries represented here today, and not least, the support of the Frontline States, including in this case, UNIP and its Government as well as the fraternal people of Zambia. We take this opportunity to extend to all our friends and allies our profound appreciation of this invaluable support.
Preoccupied as we are with the complexities of the struggle, we and the heroic people of Namibia under the leadership of SWAPO against the Pretoria regime, we cannot close our eyes on the struggles of oppressed and fighting peoples elsewhere. We therefore wish to salute the gallant people of Palestine under the leadership of the PLO as they continue to deal blows on Zionist Israel in their fight for independent Palestine.
We extend revolutionary greetings to the people of Western Sahara under the leadership of the POLISARIO Front as well to peoples fighting elsewhere in the world for social justice, peace and democracy.
The tenth General Conference of UNIP is called upon to take momentous decisions which chart a new course for Zambian society over the coming period - decisions whose impact will extend beyond the borders of Zambia. The ANC knows that any new course will be no easy road to take, given the obstacles that are constantly erected by the enemies of the African revolution to obstruct the path of development. But we also know that from the earliest days of independence to the present, Zambia's path has taken her through every liberation war in this region, through economic crises and acts of subversion and destabilisation, and Zambia has emerged strong, mighty and victorious. UNIP, under the wise and dynamic leadership of President Kaunda will continue to lead the Zambian people to new victories.
That is why we eagerly look forward to President Kaunda's reelection to the post of President of this Republic - and not only for the good of Zambia but for ours as well. For, his deep commitment to the cause of humanity as a whole feeds on the same convictions as his deep commitment to the realisation of a humanist society in his own country. Both have made of him a giant at home and abroad, and of Zambia a giant in Africa and in the international arena.
To conclude, we salute this Rock, this Rock of Authority, the Rock which in 1960 sounded the death knell of colonial rule and became the solid foundation for the Republic of Zambia.
We salute this Rock of Ages where the Zambian nation takes refuge when times are bad.
Long Live UNIP!
Long Live the Tenth General Conference!
Long Live International Solidarity!
Long Live Comrade President Kenneth Kaunda!