Your Excellency, Secretary General of the OAU,
Fellow leaders of the National Liberation Movement,
Comrades and friends,
On behalf of the African National Congress, we express our gratitude to the Party, Government and people of Tanzania who have made excellent arrangements to facilitate our participation at this meeting. This is in character, for Tanzania, under the unsurpassed leadership of President Julius Nyerere and TANU was born through struggle into a struggle. It has lived and grown high in revolutionary stature. Tanzania has, and continues to be, a secure and reliable rear base for the national liberation struggle in southern Africa, a staunch defender of African unity. It is appropriate that this country should host this historic meeting.
In the name of all the men, women and children brutalised for decades by successive all-white regimes in South Africa, we commend the Ministerial Council of the Organisation of African Unity on convening this Extraordinary Session. It is the first time, since its establishment 12 years ago, that the Organisation of African Unity has convened a special Ministerial Council meeting for the purpose of discussing the South African situation.
Twelve years is a long time in our rapidly changing political situation. But it is a short time in the life of an interstate organisation like the Organisation of African Unity. Yet in this short space of time, through its record of support for the total liberation of Africa, the Organisation of African Unity has developed such power and prestige, that its decision to hold this meeting on South Africa, in the wake of the collapse of the unholy alliance, has attracted intense international attention. This is particularly so in South Africa, among both the oppressor and the oppressed, including the national leaders of our people who are languishing in enemy prisons. John Vorster, the white minority regime's Prime Minister, confirmed the crucial nature of this conference when, making his first-ever reference to an OAU decision, he stated:
"The forthcoming OAU conference in Dar es Salaam could influence the course of events in Africa for a long time to come."
We agree with his assessment but not with the veiled threat it carries.
In convening this meeting, the OAU correctly focussed attention on South Africa as the most urgent issue facing Africa today. For the continued existence of the apartheid regime constitutes the principal obstacle to the complete and rapid emancipation of all the peoples of southern Africa. It delays the process of decolonisation in that region and postpones the total liberation of Africa. In addition it constitutes a threat to the security of free African nations and world peace.
Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Delegates,
At the outset of our discussion on South Africa, let us endeavour to establish a common understanding of what the true nature of apartheid is and hence, what the real issues before this meeting are.
Apartheid has often been equated with racialism. We need however, to understand that racialism cannot be separated from the political oppression and economic exploitation of the black people. It serves both and is in turn sustained by both. It is an integral part of a socio-economic system peculiar to South Africa, but one which has all except the geographic features of colonialism. The difference between South Africa and other systems of colonialism is, therefore, that in South Africa, coloniser and colonised live side by side within the same country. Colour and race are used as a dividing line between the resident white army of occupation and their subject population - the black people. The extreme exploitation of labour is the raison d'etre of this system. A vast apparatus of restrictive laws and practices, coupled with the dispossession of Africans from their land ensures the availability of cheap and forced labour.
Above all, as a fundamental condition of its survival, the apartheid regime maintains a complete monopoly of State power and seeks by terrorist methods to make the people acquiesce in their own servitude.
African nations, Mr. Chairman, are not unfamiliar with this colonialist pattern, for in their own countries there have been played many variations of the exploitation of the African peoples under colonial rule. In South Africa the methods have been more intensely applied and the repression more severe because of the relatively large concentration of the oppressor within the country aided and abetted by powerful international financial interests.
Therefore the problem that Africa has to face in South Africa is essentially a colonial problem and like colonialism elsewhere it has to be removed root and branch. Attempts to bring about reform within the existing system can never provide a satisfactory solution and can never be a substitute for resolute anti-colonialist struggle for national liberation.
Let us consider then the context in which we have to work for the removal of this colonialist system from our continent. The issue before us, Mr. Chairman, is not how to reform apartheid. The changes we seek in South Africa are not encompassed by being able to share a park bench with a white man, or to be allowed to enter an all-white theatre. We demand a fundamental transformation whereby, in our country, we shall have the same right of self-determination which free Africa has won for itself, which peoples fighting colonialism have won elsewhere in the world. That right is not negotiable.
Yet this is the one fundamental change that the system can never voluntarily concede, for upon the continued denial of any access to State power depends the very structure of apartheid. The objective of our struggle must therefore be the seizure of that power.
As Comrade Samora Machel, President of FRELIMO, stated in his historic and stirring message on the occasion of the Investiture of the Transitional Government of Mozambique:
"To decolonise the State means essentially to dismantle the political, administrative, cultural, financial, economic, educational, juridical and other systems which, as an integral part of the colonial State, were solely designed to impose foreign domination and the will of the exploiters on the masses."
It is only when political power has been won by the masses in South Africa, that we will be able to begin the immense task of completely dismantling the structures and institutions of apartheid.
In the context of the apartheid system, such a change can only come about through armed struggle by the revolutionary forces in our country.
This is why the legitimacy of our armed struggle has been endorsed at successive meetings of the OAU and by the international community as a whole. It was reaffirmed by the East and Central African Heads of States in the Mogadishu Declaration.
Earlier, as part of the struggle for the transfer of power to the majority in South Africa, independent Africa had adopted the demand of the African people for the complete international isolation of South Africa in all spheres - diplomatic, political, military, economic and cultural. The implementation of this policy which was spearheaded by the OAU and enforced by many countries and organisations throughout the world, led to an increasing weakening of the regime's international ties and aggravated its economic problems by isolating it from the extended markets required for its expanding economy.
Vorster was, therefore, compelled to try and break out of the isolation into which he was being forced and to extend South Africa's sphere of influence from its immediate environment in southern Africa into the heart of independent Africa. Overtures were made to free African States with a view to establishing a dialogue.
The dialogue proposed by Vorster specifically excluded dialogue about apartheid and the ways in which this inhuman system might be eliminated. What was demanded of Africa was that it call off its boycott of the apartheid regime and open its doors to the superior economic power of South Africa. This would have the effect of inhibiting support for the liberation struggle. We now know that this policy coincided with the long-term planning of southern Africa's future in foreign policy-making circles in the United States, as subsequently revealed in Kissinger's National Security Memorandum No. 39. However, events in Africa have not followed the pattern envisaged by Vorster and international imperialism.
The heroic peoples of Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, Sao Tome and Principle, and Cape Verde Islands advanced rapidly to victory; and substantial gains have been made by the revolutionary movements leading the masses in Zimbabwe and Namibia. Inside South Africa there is a revolutionary ferment manifested by a series of mass strikes by black workers, the growing militancy of the youth and an ever greater rejection of all aspects of apartheid policy. All these are continuing features of the present situation.
These developments have radically shifted the balance of forces in our sub-continent towards the fulfilment of the objectives of the liberation movement and confirm the correctness of the stand taken by ourselves and the OAU.
In an attempt to contain the internal upsurge, and undermine the growing strength of the liberation struggle, Vorster intensified his brutal repression, and at the same time embarked upon an accelerated implementation of his bantustan programme. The latter was an attempt to retribalise and divide the African population and thereby to strike a deadly blow at the very foundations of the national liberation struggle. There is no forum in the world today more aware of the dangers of retribalisation of Africa than this. No member of the Organisation of African Unity will accept the principle or practice of balkanisation.
The bantustan programme is also intended to divert the attention of the people from the struggle to seize power where it resides in Pretoria by creating the illusion of an unreal independence in an uncertain future. To give credibility to this illusion, it was necessary for the minority regime to install a number of tribal functionaries who would be the instruments for the implementation of Pretoria's apartheid policy. Dignified by the title of "homeland leaders", they were also to be used as itinerant salesmen for the bantustan illusion in the outside world. They were to be the bridgehead of a new dialogue offensive - this time called "detente".
Once again Africa's response can only be an unequivocal rejection of dialogue. For, while playing for time Vorster is simultaneously preparing for the final confrontation. He has escalated his armament programme and is strengthening South Africa's ties with his traditional allies - Britain, the United States and France. This year, the military budget has been doubled to a total of almost R 1,000 million (£600 million), a sum greater than the annual national income of most African countries. The NATO Powers continue to supply South Africa with arms in defiance of United Nations resolutions. Furthermore, in pursuance of their self-imposed task of protecting the world, the NATO Powers have appointed Vorster to a leading role in policing the Indian Ocean without reference to the countries of Africa and Asia, thus underlining the role of the apartheid regime in South Africa as the main threat to the security and peace of Africa.
Despite this, however, the victories being scored against colonialism and imperialism throughout the world, the international and continental conditions have created a situation most favourable for the success of armed struggle in southern Africa.
The armed liberation movements and peoples of Vietnam and Cambodia are on the verge of final victory. In the Middle East progress is being made towards a just settlement that will vindicate the armed struggle of the Palestinian people for their legitimate rights supported by the Arab, African States, and the whole of democratic mankind. The Lisbon coup which destroyed the fascist regime in Portugal showed that the victorious struggle of the peoples of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, Mozambique, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, under the leadership of their heroic liberation movements, has furthered the process of revolutionary change not only in Africa but in Europe too.
The Lisbon coup deprived South Africa of its colonial ally while the victories of the peoples of Mozambique and Angola destroyed at a blow South Africa's strategy of surrounding itself with a ring of buffer States.
In assessing the various political, economic and military manoeuvres of Vorster it is important to appreciate that they emanate from a position of weakness and not of strength. The time has clearly come to pursue the retreating enemy, not to succumb to his blandishments.
The role of the Vorster regime in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia no longer permits of a tight compartmentalisation of the struggle in these three areas. The solution of the Zimbabwe question today, whether by negotiation or armed struggle, involves the Vorster regime. As Vorster stated brutally when addressing his electorate in November last year:
"The South African troops in Rhodesia are there to protect South Africa's interests and not anyone else's."
President Nyerere, in opening this Conference, presented a characteristically lucid analysis of the issues in South Africa, and stated:
"Whether, therefore, we are talking about Rhodesia, Namibia or South Africa itself, the effective authority is South Africa."
The OAU, in our opinion, must adopt a strategy which recognises not only the indivisibility of the enemy, but also the dominant role of the South African regime in the area. In Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, which share common borders, there are liberation movements and revolutionary forces committed to revolutionary struggle, and capable of confronting the common enemy on the three fronts simultaneously.
The mobilisation of African and world support for this three-fronted offensive is the urgent task to which this conference must now address itself.
We, therefore, call upon this august assembly to reaffirm the correct stand of the OAU and the United Nations of recognising the liberation movement as the authentic representative of the struggling people in our country and spokesman of the South African people as a whole.
The OAU should reaffirm its condemnation and total rejection of the bantustan policy and puppet figureheads imposed upon the people by the Pretoria regime. In particular, the OAU should refuse to recognise the projected pseudo-independence of the bantustans.
Africa must reaffirm its adherence to the diplomatic, political, military, economic and cultural isolation of white South Africa and call upon all member States to refrain from establishing any such contacts. In particular, Africa must continue to work for the immediate expulsion of the Pretoria regime from the United Nations Organisation.
Finally, and above all, the OAU must call upon all the member States and the world to spare no effort in helping increase the striking power of our liberation movement in the struggle for the seizure of power in South Africa, but also the striking powers of the ANC of Zimbabwe as well as the striking power of SWAPO and the people of Namibia in the struggle against domination by the fascist regime in South Africa.
Although we have so far devoted our comments to what Africa and the world can do for us, we know that in the final analysis the liberation of our country is primarily the task of our liberation movement and our united people. The African National Congress, conscious of its historic duty to the people of our country, to Africa and to the whole of mankind, is determined to pursue this historic mission to final victory.
In this struggle our organisation is aware of the forces of evil and oppression that are arraigned against it. Events have fully borne out the fact that international imperialism is committed to defend and buttress the regime of terror in our country. We are also aware of the fact that with trickery and duplicity, our enemy is frantically attempting to seduce the so-called uncommitted forces all over the world. Time and the irreversible course of events are, however, working in our favour. The revolutionary mood of the oppressed masses of our country is surging forward. The whole of democratic mankind is on our side.
We shall win!