Mobilise the world for sanctions against apartheid!

We owe the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid a debt of deep gratitude for inviting me to represent the African National Congress (ANC) at this special meeting which is being held to inaugurate the International Year of Mobilisation for Sanctions against South Africa. This is a meeting which the ANC and the people of South Africa as a whole consider of the utmost importance, not least because it is a meeting concerned with the crucial need for united action by the international community.

We gratefully acknowledge the many messages of solidarity received from Heads of State or Government, Foreign Ministers, ambassadors, leaders of political parties, as well as heads of national and international non-governmental organisations, and from people in different walks of life in many parts of the world.

The people of South Africa have deeply appreciated and have been immensely inspired by the special greetings sent by the General Assembly to mark the seventieth anniversary of the ANC.

Equally, we greatly welcome the decision of the General Assembly to designate the year 1982 as the International Year of Mobilisation for Sanctions against South Africa. I would therefore like to salute the coalescence that we find between 1982, the International Year of Mobilisation for Sanctions against South Africa, and 1982, the Year of Unity in Action being in commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the formation of the ANC. In this sense, 1982 is the meeting-point between the liberation struggle of a people over a continuous period of 70 years, and a concerted effort by the United Nations directed at the same goal throughout the latter half of that period. The year 1982 unites in action the fighting masses in South Africa with the opponents of racism, apartheid and colonialism the world over.

It is especially edifying to have as Chairman of the Special Committee against Apartheid a brother and a friend of long standing, a son of that august nation, Nigeria, whose unswerving support for the total liberation of our continent is well known and respected.(2)

In this regard we should like to salute the Special Committee, which has been a fighting weapon of the people of South Africa and which has taken the kind of initiatives through which the international community is virtually united today in support of the struggle of the people of South Africa. It was a great moment in 1962 when the General Assembly decided to establish this body. We had then relatively few supporters. But today we are assured of the backing of the international community thanks to the highly commendable work being done, Mr. Chairman, by the Committee over which you now preside.

I also wish to take this opportunity, however belatedly, personally to congratulate Mr. Ismat Kittani, the President of the General Assembly, on his election and on the successful manner in which he has conducted the affairs of the thirty-sixth session of the General Assembly.

Likewise, Mr. Chairman, we heartily congratulate Mr. Javier Perez de Cuellar on his election as Secretary-General of the United Nations and welcome him to the position of supreme responsibility which he assumes in the crucial year, 1982. Already, we are encouraged by his recent statement on the question of Namibia, and his assessment of the South African situation. The independence of Namibia under the South West Africa People`s Organisation (SWAPO) is long overdue. The continuing repression of the Namibian people and the use of that country for aggression and destruction in Angola and in other African States cannot but project the United Nations as helplessly impotent in the face of an outrage committed upon its authority by the apartheid regime of South Africa.

As the last Summit Conference of the Non-Aligned Countries indicated, there will be peace, security and stability in southern Africa only after South Africa`s illegal and murderous occupation of Namibia has been ended and apartheid regime in South Africa has been eliminated by the people and replaced by a democratic State.

The historical developments which culminated in the formation of the ANC in 1912 have been canvassed adequately in earlier discussions, notably at the meeting held by the African Group in cooperation with the Special Committee against Apartheid, under your chairmanship, to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the ANC and the twentieth anniversary of Umkhonto We Sizwe. In passing, we wish to express our profound appreciation of that historic initiative which has been a great inspiration to our people in general and to the cadres of Umkhonto We Sizwe in particular.

Nonviolent Movement and Boycott

It is now generally known that the struggle led by the ANC from 1912 up to the beginning of the 1960s took the form of peaceful and nonviolent pressures. Throughout the period of the 1950s the policy of the ANC was consciously and deliberately nonviolent at a time when the apartheid regime had come into power and had opened an era of violent rule unknown since the formation of the Union of South Africa. This violence escalated constantly and continuously during this decade, as the struggle of the oppressed gathered momentum, bringing into action the largest numbers of people ever involved in the struggle led by the ANC.

The competing rise in apartheid violence on the one hand and the militancy of the masses on the other was clearly moving towards a point when a violent explosion would become inevitable. In fact, by 1958, there was a growing impatience with the policy of nonviolence on the part of the masses, who were demanding that racist violence should be met with revolutionary violence.

It was at this stage that the ANC, speaking through its President, A.J. Luthuli, invoked a new tactic - that of inducing the white electorate to put pressure on their own racist government. This tactic consisted in a call, first, for a boycott of selected consumer goods by the population in South Africa; and later, still in the year 1958, a call on the international community to boycott all South African consumer goods. The immediate effect would be to put the blacks out of work. This sacrifice we were prepared to make. But the next to be retrenched would be the white voters. This was the target of the consumer boycott movement. It will be observed that this was a tactic in the spirit of nonviolence: an attempt to resolve the political conflict by peaceful methods and to obviate the necessity, which was becoming strongly felt, for the people to resort to violent struggle.

Call for Sanctions

After the Sharpeville massacre, which was a natural development of the escalating violence of the racist regime, the ANC raised the question of sanctions against the South African regime.

The call was made in the first instance to a meeting of independent African States held in Addis Ababa in June 1960, and was subsequently submitted to the 1960 session of the General Assembly by the African representatives. Since then, the United Nations, and the international community generally, have been seized of the question of sanctions. As in the 1950s the demand for sanctions has been made in the context of a rapidly escalating conflict involving the fighting people of South Africa and Namibia on the one hand, and the South African racist regime on the other.

Today, the stage has been reached when the racist regime, in its armed offensive, is terrorising the entire region of southern Africa with armed invasions, massacres, assassinations, economic sabotage and the infiltration into independent States of armed bandits to engage in acts of destabilisation. The racist regime is now occupying part of the territory of the People`s Republic of Angola; this constitutes a crime against all Africa, an outrage against the very concept of national independence and territorial integrity. This aggression is in part a strategy of defence against the mounting offensive by the liberation movements, whose objective of national liberation enjoys the support of the United Nations and the international community. In part, the strategy seeks to reverse the revolutionary gains achieved by the peoples of southern Africa by overthrowing their legitimate governments and replacing them with its own puppets. This offensive is bound to grow as the armed struggle within Namibia and South Africa is inevitably intensified.

It is in this context that the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions has become both imperative and urgent if the trend towards a regional war is to be arrested and the duration of the war situation limited through the effective isolation of the racist regime by the international community.

The world community must accept the fact that a people who lost their independence to a colonial Power in 1884 and who were cast in the fascist grip of a racist regime in 1918 will wage a continually intensifying war against the illegal forces in their country until they regain their independence. This is the position of SWAPO and the Namibian people.

Equally, it must be accepted that the people of South Africa, who, after half a century of peaceful and patient knocking at a closed and barred door, have been rewarded with massacres, assassinations and torture, will not put down their spears, now that they have picked them up again. Instead, and at all costs, they will intensify their struggle with every means and weapon at their disposal. The year 1982 constitutes a special challenge for the people of South Africa to bring into being a new political, economic and social order in their country. Nothing can stand in the way of their fulfilling this historic task.

The call for sanctions has met with only a partial response to date. We should like to commend the countries, governments, organisations and institutions which, in response to the appeal of the people of Namibia and South Africa and to the call of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the General Assembly, have taken the decision to isolate the South African regime.

Allies of the Racist Regime

But it is recognised that the problem about the imposition of sanctions against South Africa emanates from a few Western countries which are allies of the racist regime and which reap lucrative profits from the apartheid system and the inhuman crimes associated with it. It is common knowledge that Britain, West Germany, Italy, France and the United States, together with hundreds of transnational corporations, have vested interests in the perpetuation and the survival of the apartheid system. The most determined efforts to secure a Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on this regime have been defeated in the interests of maintaining the status quo in both Namibia and South Africa.

It is worth noting that some of the countries now involved in desperate efforts to prolong, and even perpetuate, their exploitation of the people of Namibia and South Africa, as well as their plunder of the rest of the subcontinent, were parties to the notorious 1884 Berlin Convention, whose one hundredth anniversary falls in only two years` time.

The United States has entered the picture as the latter-day leader of the group which has presumably, like the racist regime of South Africa, never accepted the independence of African countries. What confronts the international community is how to build new international relations based on a total abandonment of the concepts and the policies which emanated from the Berlin Convention, in particular, how to ensure stability, peace and progress by terminating racist and colonial domination of the people of Namibia and South Africa.

From the point of view of the people of Africa in general, and of Namibia and South Africa in particular, there is no alternative but to fight on, with arms and all. The international community is being denied the use of the powerful weapon of sanctions by forces which have not hesitated to provide the fascist regime in South Africa with the most lethal weapons of destruction, including nuclear technology. The activities of the International Year of Mobilisation for Sanctions against South Africa will need to address themselves in detail to the role of these countries.

Mobilise for Sanctions

To this end, on behalf of the Namibian people led by SWAPO, the people of South Africa, and the people of the whole region now facing the real possibility of an escalating war, we appeal to every section of the international community to join in a determined effort to win the cooperation of all States members of the United Nations in the enforcement of sanctions against South Africa. The formidable evidence that has been amassed to demonstrate the collaboration between South Africa and the West must now be placed at the disposal of the men and women who comprise the international community to enable them to play their role in putting an end to a heinous crime against humanity.

Given the necessary political will, a Member State, first, can and should impose sanctions on South Africa without relying on a Security Council resolution. Secondly, every government decision to isolate South Africa completely has its own impact in encouraging similar action by other governments. Thirdly, for those determined to see the liberation of Namibia and South Africa, the sacrifices they have to make in the event of the imposition of sanctions on the Pretoria racist regime must be seen as their part in the struggle for peace, stability and progress. But this applies with even greater force to the people of Namibia and South Africa and to the countries and peoples of southern Africa, who are not new to the demand for sacrifice in pursuit of the goal of national liberation, self-determination and independence.

It would be dangerous to underestimate the problems attendant upon the attempt to mobilise for sanctions. A cold war psychosis is being generated, which diverts world attention to the possibility of a global conflict between the West and the Warsaw Pact countries. This enables the South African regime and its allies to pursue murderous policies without attracting international attention.

In this connection, it is significant that the continuing occupation of parts of southern Angola by the South African regime appears to have ceased to elicit international condemnation.

Unity in Action

There should be no doubt, however, that the struggle in South Africa, as also in Namibia, is a reality of our times, and any attempt to bypass this joint struggle is bound to fail, thanks to the determination of the people and our armed forces to intensify their offensive for victory. As we have stated before, the certainty of that victory for the people of Namibia and South Africa is also a reality of our times.

Our struggle has advanced enormously inside Namibia and inside South Africa. Our people fight today in the knowledge that the world community is on their side, that the enemies are few, and that the people who comprise humanity are many. They are therefore grateful for the political, diplomatic and material support which has come from the United Nations and many countries bilaterally and collectively - support which has come from various sections of the international community. They have followed with great interest and admiration the way that the African Group at the United Nations has represented the interests and the policies of the OAU. They constitute a living presence of the entire continent at the United Nations. We have admired, too, the cooperation between the Special Committee against Apartheid and the African Group and the representatives of the Non-Aligned Movement and, generally, the spirit of united action and of unity in action which is demonstrated here with every issue that affects us all.

Appreciation to Special Committee

Finally, Mr. Chairman, we would like to pay a special tribute to the Special Committee against Apartheid, which has contributed through its various organs to a massive commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the ANC. We have read with much appreciation the statement made by the Chairman of the Special Committee calling upon the world to commemorate this unique event. The participation of mankind in the commemoration of the seventieth anniversary is an act of unity not merely with the ANC but also with the people of whose history it is a part.

We would like to thank the trade union movement in Africa for their support and hope that the movement will use its good offices to mobilise the international trade union movement, especially in relation to the effort to ensure the implementation of sanctions by the workers, jointly with people in various walks of life.

We call upon the international community to give all-round support and assistance to the liberation struggles of the Namibian and South African people, as well as to the countries of southern Africa which are targets of aggression because of their commitment to the total liberation of Africa and their resolve to stand by the positions of the OAU, the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations. We seek this support for all others, such as the PLO, the POLISARIO Front, FRETILIN of East Timor and peoples in other parts of the world engaged in the struggle against racism, fascism and colonial domination.

We wish the Special Committee against Apartheid all success as it faces the challenges of the year 1982. We are informed that one of its most effective members, Ambassador Peter Florin of the German Democratic Republic, is leaving the United Nations. We thank him and his country for his great contribution to the success of the work of the Special Committee. Because of the dedication of all the members of the Committee, we are confident that his departure will not take away the capacity of the Committee to fulfil its tasks with the competence that we have come to associate with it.

ES Reddy