Our struggle has entered a phase which marks the final days of the apartheid system of colonial and racist domination. The extraordinary challenge represented by the mass offensive which has gripped our country over the last two years especially has as its point of focus the objective of the transfer of power to the people.

It is centred on the urgent necessity for all South Africans to govern our country together, to determine its future as equals, to fashion it into a peaceful and prosperous motherland, the common patrimony of all its people, both black and white.

Thus the struggle does not seek what the Botha regime describes as reforms. It is not about partial improvements in the conditions of life of the black oppressed majority. And of cardinal importance in this regard is the fact that the idea has taken root in the minds of the millions of our people that if we must perish, as some of us will, then we will lay down our lives not for peripheral changes but for a genuine social and political transformation of our reality. Of equal importance is the awareness that we have it in our power to bring this new reality into being, that our daily sacrifices are necessary elements in the actual making of a glorious future.

The Pretoria regime is responding to this democratic challenge as we would expect it to. This regime remains committed to the maintenance of the apartheid system. In its essence, this system is about the monopolisation of political power by the white minority. Everything that the Botha regime does is directed at ensuring that whatever happens, the white minority retains political control for all time.

We consider it a matter of great importance that the international community should understand this fully and clearly. This is especially necessary at a time when the Botha regime projects itself as reformist and a new-found opponent of apartheid. This regime seeks to reduce world hostility to the apartheid system in order to weaken the pressure for sanctions and buy a further lease of life for itself. Among the so-called reforms carried out by the Botha regime are the repeal of the racist sex and marriage laws, amendments to labour legislation and proposed changes affecting influx control and the pass laws. None of these addresses the fundamental question of the urgent need to ensure that all the people of South Africa participate in governing our country. They do not in any way affect the future of power in our country.

As we have said so many times, apartheid cannot be reformed. It must be destroyed in its entirety. For, indeed, how do you reform oppression? How do you reform the domination of the black majority by the white minority? How do you reform a crime so that it ceases to be a crime? Oppression and freedom are antithetical and mutually exclusive; they cannot be made to coexist by the injection of the word "reform". Botha understands this.

Indeed, while talking of reforms, he has made it plain on many occasions that he will not depart from his objective of maintaining the system of white minority domination. He therefore speaks consistently of so-called group rights, of the right of the white population to self-determination and of South Africa being a nation of minorities whose rights must be protected. All of these are mere euphemisms for apartheid, according to which the population must continue to be defined in racial and ethnic categories and subjected to domination by the white minority.

Far from being interested in change, the apartheid regime sees its principal task as the destruction of those forces that are fighting for a united, democratic and nonracial South Africa. In this regard, Pretoria is also involved in feverish activities to expand its machinery of repression and continuously escalates the use of force and terror against the people. To justify all this, the racists have elaborated and advanced the so-called doctrine of national security, according to which everything the regime does must serve to reinforce the safety of the apartheid system.

In practice, not only is the Botha regime continuously expanding its armed forces, but it has also ensured that these forces occupy a critical place in its governing structures. Twice in a period of less than a year, states of emergency have been declared during which the army and the police have been given powers of life and death over millions of our people. This is the situation in South Africa today. It is one of rule by the gun.

The preeminence of the option of State terrorism in the response of the Pretoria regime to the heightened struggle in our country should, of course, come as no surprise. After all, apartheid is violence. The establishment of a social system in which a section of the population is defined as the underling and another as the master is itself an act of violence - an act of violence which can only acquire permanence by the continuing use of violence. It is therefore logical that such a system should respond to any crisis not only with an increased use of force, but also with the glorification of violence as a cult and a necessary means of ordering social relations.

The Botha who is today promoted by some in certain Western countries as the most reform-minded Head of State that racist South Africa has ever had, in fact epitomises this cult of violence and is proud to consider himself a skilled practitioner in the use of force to achieve political objectives.

The same considerations about the role of violence stand at the centre of the policy of the Pretoria regime vis-a-vis the independent States of our region. Over the years, Pretoria has advanced various theses to justify its campaign of aggression against these states. The most current of these is the assertion by the Pretoria regime that apartheid South Africa has a natural role as a regional Power.

In advancing this claim, Pretoria once more moves from the proposition that force is the principal determinant of the structure of inter-State relations. From this flows ineluctably the idea of spheres of influence, the idea of a natural and organic international periphery whose extent and adherence to the centre are determined by the strength of that centre and the skill with which the centre uses its power to assert its influence.

The assertion made by the Botha regime after its recent raids into Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe that its actions were no different from those carried out by the Reagan Administration against Libya was consistent with its view of the role of force in the ordering of international relations. The Pretoria regime sees its position in relation to southern Africa and Africa as a whole as no different from that of the United States with regard to the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The meaning of all this for southern Africa is quite clear. It is that while it has the capacity to do so, the apartheid regime will continue in its efforts to dominate the region, through aggression, destabilisation and subversion. Even in the inevitable situation when the escalation of the struggle for national liberation inside South Africa will have stretched the enemy forces to their limit, we must still expect that the Pretoria regime will continue to hit out at our neighbours. Indeed, the logic of its position would demand of the Pretoria regime that in such a situation, aggressive forays should be both swift and very destructive.

The apartheid regime upholds and will continue to assume this posture because, in terms of its own calculations, it has permanent tasks to keep the neighbouring States economically and politically unstable and to ensure that they do not become active supporters of the ANC.

There are, therefore, various elements that are inherent in the strategy of survival of the South African regime, including complete rejection of international norms concerning independence of States and the inviolability of their borders and sovereignty. This strategy also assumes a definition of international peace and security which hinges on the thesis that the strong are entitled to violate such peace and security to enable them to establish a stable order based on the subservience of the weak to the will of the strong.

In its report, the Commonwealth Group of Eminent Persons has warned of the certainty of unspeakable bloodshed in southern Africa if the international community does not intervene by imposing effective sanctions. It should be clear from what we have said that we ourselves agree with this conclusion. The use of violence is an imperative internal to the apartheid system, inherent in it, the motor that drives its engine of survival. Already a man-hating system, apartheid will be particularly destructive of black people because, in any case, it describes us as less than human and therefore capable of being annihilated as so much vermin.

But our people are moved by the same desires and impulses that have motivated men and women through the ages to assert their right to liberty. Our very humanity impels us to act boldly and consistently to end a man-made system whose basic philosophy is the degradation, dehumanisation and immolation of an entire people. Contrary to the wishes of the rulers, the more violence they use, the greater the determination of the victims of that violence to end the situation of terror. And yet, the more people resist, the more the oppressor believes that all that is wrong is that he has not used sufficient force.

In the struggles that are raging in our country today, and which have persisted without a day`s respite for so long, our people are showing that the might of the cause of justice can never be dwarfed or denied by the terror of guns and evil State power. In the streets of our towns and cities and in the villages, in direct daily confrontation with the enemy army and police, the millions of the unarmed are moving forward steadily in the struggle towards the realisation of the objective we have set ourselves - to destroy the apartheid system and create a democratic and nonracial society in its place.

Our movement and our people have had their own flag and national anthem for well over half a century now. This came about simply because when Britain handed over power exclusively to the white minority in 1910, leaving our colonial status unchanged, we refused to recognise the then Union of South Africa and its symbols of State as our own.

The struggle we have waged since then has resulted in the emergence in South Africa today of the democratic movement as the alternative power. The desperate acts of the apartheid regime derive from its realisation that our movement for national liberation is challenging the very existence of the apartheid State. Today, that movement is recognised by the overwhelming majority of our people as their authentic representative, their political leader. The recent successful general strike called to observe the tenth anniversary of the Soweto uprising of June l6, 1976, was held despite the proclamation of a state of emergency, the arrest of many leaders and activists and the deployment of the army and police in massive numbers throughout the country. This clearly demonstrated the authority which the movement enjoys among our people.

Our programme, the Freedom Charter, is the property of the people, uniting them in their millions as their perspective for the kind of South Africa we are fighting for.

On the other hand, the apartheid system is immersed in a deep and worsening economic, political and social crisis from which it cannot extricate itself. The apartheid regime has been thrown into disarray. At the same time, the white power bloc is rent by divisions and conflict and can never regain even a semblance of unity and common purpose.

All this has come about because of the intensity and the consistency of the all-round political and military struggle that continues to escalate in both South Africa and Namibia, complemented and reinforced by the international offensive to isolate the Pretoria regime. The task that faces us is to step up this struggle to even higher levels in a combined political and military offensive.

ES Reddy