Mobilise world support for African Liberation struggle

[Oliver Tambo, speaking on behalf of all liberation movements, thanked the Government of Norway for its hospitality. He specially praised the Norwegian Government for its courageous stand in NATO, where it clearly expressed its opposition to Portuguese colonialism. He also praised the cooperation between the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations in the fight against apartheid and colonialism.

The key word in the declared purpose of the Conference was "support", which should be interpreted as the practical measures and material assistance that the world community was prepared to give the liberation movements in their growing offensives against the racist regimes in southern Africa. Observing that the brutal assassination of Amilcar Cabral was proof of desperation and panic in the camp of the oppressors, he said that there could no longer be any doubt that the liberation movements were winning. Oliver Tambo continued:]

Common Struggle

In Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde Islands, the PAIGC now exercises absolute control over two-thirds of the territory and is steadily closing in on that part of the country which is still held by the Portuguese colonialist forces.

In Mozambique, the patriotic forces led by FRELIMO continue to drive deeper into the enemy strongholds, recovering vast stretches of territory and liberating hundreds of thousands of people. This pattern is repeated in Angola, where the armed struggle has reached the more densely populated areas. In both territories, democratic power bases are being built in the liberated areas.

Combining highly organised political struggle with armed action, the people of Zimbabwe have created a new crisis for the Ian Smith regime and its British sponsors. The armed offensive by the ZANU-ZAPU patriotic forces have driven the regime into wild acts of desperation, in the course of which it attempted a suicidal economic blockade against Zambia, and in the process hurt itself very badly.

The South African regime, for long subjected to rigorous pressures by the oppressed peoples and sensing the imminence of a violent explosion in South Africa and Namibia, runs a defence budget in magnitude unequalled in Africa and unprecedented in the history of white rule in southern Africa. The recent events, both in Namibia under SWAPO`s leadership and in South Africa, point to a sustained and growing struggle in which the racist regime is forced to yield ground or call up more troops. There can no longer be any doubt that a common struggle for transfer of power to the people is raging wherever the forces of colonialism and apartheid are to be found on the continent.

If I have given the impression that we are winning, it is because we are winning. But victory is not immediate. Imperialism is defending its positions with increased vigour and is determined to outlast the people`s struggles. The need for support, for assistance, for solidarity in deeds and actions, is a real need. Portugal, Rhodesia and South Africa, united under the umbrella of world imperialism, and as its agents, are being strengthened and the suffering of the victims of colonialism and apartheid are being prolonged.

Targets for Mobilisation

What are the needs of our situation and what are the tasks of this Conference? The Conference should set out targets for total mobilisation of effective world support for the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggle:

  1. Firstly, the working basis or basic principles and realities of the struggle should be clearly defined and then vigorously put across to the international community.
  2. We, the liberation movements, have launched the armed liberation struggle, as the inevitable instrument of our liberation, imposed on us by the violent systems of colonialism and apartheid, under which we suffer. The United Nations General Assembly has already acknowledged the legitimacy of our form of struggle. However, acknowledgement of this fact has still to be grounded among the masses of the world, among its workers, in order to offset reactionary or counter-revolutionary propaganda.
  3. Secondly, the Conference should underscore the fact that all assistance to the victims of colonialism and apartheid - whether humanitarian or otherwise - should be towards the one single purpose of promoting the success of the liberation struggle, the defeat of colonialism and apartheid, the liberation of the people from these evils.
  4. The Conference should lay down as the link of success, direct, dynamic contact between governments and supporting non-governmental organisations on the one hand and the liberation movements on the other. This will hasten mutual exchange of information and ideas, heighten confidence and expedite the quality and quantity of assistance, thereby ensuring the speedy attainment of the goals of our struggle.
  5. To keep the people of the world apace with the advance and necessities of the liberation struggle, governments and supporting non-governmental organisations should have at their disposal all propaganda media.
  6. The Conference should analyse carefully those international forces which, under the cover of trade, give logistic support to the fascist racists in southern Africa, and to the Portuguese regime. These should be exposed and be identified as the enemies of the people and the allies of colonialism and apartheid.
  7. This Conference has served to demonstrate that liberation movements are the only authentic representatives of their people. This fact should be legitimised and universalised in all international activities. Already a step in this direction has been taken by the new status accorded to the liberation movements by the OAU, and the admission to observer status of some of the liberation movements at the United Nations. All assistance to victims of colonialism and apartheid should be channelled through or with reference to the liberation movements. This is to ensure that all assistance goes to promote the quick success of the liberation struggle.

In conclusion we wish to express our hope that the deliberations and conclusions drawn from this Conference, representing a wide range of experiences in the struggle against colonialism and racism, will be an important landmark in the worldwide mobilisation of all freedom-loving and humanitarian forces for the complete liquidation of colonialism and racism.

The International Conference was organised by the United Nations in cooperation with the Organisation of African Unity. Participants included representatives of the United Nations, the OAU and African liberation movements, experts nominated by member governments, and several special invitees. Mr. Tambo addressed the opening plenary session on behalf of all the national liberation movements. The texts of speeches at this Conference are from the publication on the Conference by the Scandinavian Institute of African Studies (Olav Stokke and Carl Widstrand, Southern Africa: the UN-OAU Conference, Oslo, 9-14 April 1973, Volume I).

Amilcar Cabral, leader of PAIGC, the national liberation movement of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, and a member of the preparatory committee of the Conference, was assassinated in Conakry on January 20, 1973.

ES Reddy