Chairperson, Comrade Sally Mugabe,
Your Excellency, Comrade President Robert Mugabe,
Honourable Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Dr. Richard Jolly,
Comrade Members of the leadership of ZANU (PF) and the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe,
Your Royal Highness, Prince Mohato Seeiso of the Kingdom of Lesotho,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors, High Commissioners and members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished artists, writers and other intellectual workers,
Esteemed guest participants, Comrades and friends,
Dear children of the Frontline States and southern Africa,
First of all, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the Zimbabwe Committee for Child Survival and Development and to UNICEF for inviting and enabling us to participate in this important symposium which has met to discuss the survival and development of the children in the Frontline States. The outstanding address made at the opening by His Excellency the President, Comrade Robert Mugabe, points in a graphic way both to the importance and the urgency of the issue which has brought us together here in Harare.
It is a matter of great encouragement and inspiration to us who come from southern Africa to see so many concerned people who have come from other parts of the globe to discuss with us the future of the millions of children of this part of the world and what we can do together to shape that future. Unhappily, the prospects for the survival and development of the children of our region are as yet anything but bright. This is because we have to contend still with the reality of apartheid, oppression, repression and aggression. The terrible and chilling impact of all this on children more than amply demonstrates the correctness of the designation of apartheid by the international community as a crime against humanity.
The concern of our continent for the position of children has found expression among other things, in the declaration of 1988 by the last OAU Summit as the Year of the Protection, Survival and Development of the African Child. This symposium, like its Dakar predecessor of last year, is yet another important contribution to the efforts of the peoples of Africa to guarantee a better future for themselves by ensuring the safety and security as well as the physical, intellectual and cultural development and happiness of the African child. And yet we find on our continent a system in place which was designed exactly to frustrate these purposes. Every single day it continues, it claims the lives of African children, stunts and denies the development of those who manage to survive and transforms their lives into a reality of torment and misery. We speak of the criminal system of apartheid according to whose world view all black people are less than human and are therefore freely disposable and expendable as befits the interests of the maintenance of white supremacy. Being the most defenceless and vulnerable members of the human species, it is self-evident that the children will of necessity be among the worst victims of this man-hating and anti-human system.
What we are speaking of is not a matter merely of logical deduction which remains to be proved by empirical evidence. Rather, we are talking of the actual experience of all the peoples of our region. We are certain that the individual country presentations will illustrate this point with all the necessary detail. With regard to our own country, South Africa, I will leave the task of providing a picture of the actuality to the rest of my compatriots who are attending the symposium.
With your permission, Comrade Chairperson, I would like to say a few words about the perspectives ahead of us, to contribute to the elaboration of the setting which should inform the decisions we will arrive at concerning the actions we have to take to advance the cause of child survival and development in our region.
Ever Growing Conflict
The Pretoria regime is more than ever determined to perpetuate its domination of our country and region. To achieve this, the racists are committed to the maximum use of force against our people, those of Namibia, and the Frontline and other independent States of our region. The recent vain attempts within our country to ban and suppress all mass political action on the one hand, and the war of aggression being waged against the people of Angola on the other, are expressions of the same strategic objective to achieve and secure the hegemony of the apartheid regime over all the peoples of southern Africa.
The vicious war of destabilisation being carried out by Pretoria's bandit forces against the people of Mozambique, the continued occupation of Namibia and the brutalisation of the people, the threats and acts of aggression against Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia also belong within this strategy. All this will come to an end, but there is yet a bitter struggle ahead. Indeed, as the struggle within Namibia and South Africa continues and intensifies, so will the campaign of terror against all the peoples of the Frontline States and southern Africa increase.
It is also patently clear that the major Western Powers are determined to frustrate the demand of the peoples of our region and the rest of the world to impose comprehensive and mandatory sanctions against apartheid South Africa. Consciously, these Powers want their countries to maintain economic and other relations... Words missing in the original of all humanity to act with even greater determination against all the peoples of southern Africa.
We know that victory is certain. Our people are no different from any other and therefore can never accept a life of servitude. The very fact of the independence of the brother peoples of our region and the successes they score in the reconstruction and development of their countries serve as a material factor inspiring us to prosecute our struggle until victory is achieved. The new measures of repression imposed by the Botha regime this past week point to the failure of the brutal forms of repression employed to date. They constitute a fresh challenge to us and to all our people not only to defeat the enemy's intentions but in fact to raise the intensity of the mass political struggle to even higher levels. Equally, and especially in the new situation created by the apartheid regime, the importance and centrality of the armed struggle is obvious not only to our people but also to the rest of the international community that wishes to see an end to the apartheid system.
Our region is therefore confronted with the perspective of an ever-growing conflict between the forces of democracy, justice and peace on one side and those of racism, oppression and war on the other. How destructive that conflict will be we can judge from what has happened and is happening in the various countries of southern Africa. We must expect that as a result of the continuing terrorism of the apartheid regime, the situation of the millions of children in our region will worsen many times over.
Last year, in this very same hall, the international community listened to harrowing tales of how the Pretoria regime is conducting a special war against the children of our country. Today, we listened to harrowing tales of how the Pretoria regime is conducting a special war against the children of Mozambique. All of us present were and have been moved to tears of anguish and anger at the barbarity that men, armed with guns, whips and handcuffs were and are visiting on children. More than anything else, the children who spoke from this platform then, as today, challenged us to answer the question - how long must the scourge of apartheid continue!
Let the Voices of Children be Heard
All of us gathered here today are confronted by that question posed to us by all the children of the Frontline States and southern Africa who know what it is to live under the iron heel and the dark menacing shadow of the criminal apartheid system. We believe that the answer that must come from this historic symposium is that we, artists, writers and intellectual workers, have said "enough is enough".
You who have the gift of eloquence and an ability to depict reality with a stark vividness which enhances our understanding of that reality have a task to use your talents to ensure that the truth about the situation of children in southern Africa is made known to all humanity. We ask you not to invent anything but to tell the truth as it should be told - the truth about the children of South Africa and Namibia, of Mozambique and Angola. We ask you to tell the truth about the crimes against children that the apartheid regime perpetrates daily. Tell the truth also about those in the rest of the world who continue to encourage this regime to commit these crimes by refusing to isolate it from all international intercourse. Let the peoples of the world hear all this and know that one cannot stand aside while the slaughter of the innocents continues.
We count on you to move the nations of the world to act against the common enemy of all humanity, the apartheid regime, with unprecedented determination and vigour. Covering the entire subcontinent, from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, hundreds of thousands of children lie entombed in the silence of graves they never deserved. Those graves are a plea to all men and women of conscience to do everything possible to end the apartheid system and thus end the carnage. The certain knowledge that many more are yet to die and that millions are condemned to suffer from extreme starvation and appalling health because Pretoria wishes this to be so, challenges everyone to join the offensive against the apartheid system. Use your talents to throw out that challenge so that the voices of the children are heard, so that with the destruction of the apartheid system the peoples of our region can set about the task of working, as the rest of our continent is doing, to guarantee the survival and development of the African child.
We would like to join our distinguished Chairperson and Comrade President Robert Mugabe in welcoming to southern Africa those participants who came from further afield. Your presence here, at the battlefront, on the frontline, assures that the plea of our children will be heard in all corners of the globe and that the apartheid monster does not have long to live. We look forward to the results of the symposium, convinced that they will make an important contribution to our quest for a life of peace and happiness for our children.