South African’s National Liberation Movement
January 8th Statements
Statement of the National Executive Committee on the occasion of the 68th Anniversary of the ANC
Let Us Rise to the Occasion
Speech by Comrade President, O.R. Tambo on the occasion of January 8th, 1980, 68th anniversary of the African National Congress of South Africa.
Today is January 8th, the birthday of the African National Congress. This 68th anniversary of the foundation of the ANC falls in the year 1980, a historic year in that it also is the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter. 1980 of course marks both the beginning of a new decade and the end of the Seventies which have proved truly momentous in the history of mankind.
Last year, when we spoke to you on January 8th, we said that SWAPO of Namibia and the Patriotic Front of Zimbabwe had reached the very threshold of power. We said that power in our region was visibly changing hands and that days of the racists and their stooges were strictly numbered.
The question how many days the racists and their stooges had in our region is today being answered practically in Zimbabwe.
A Democratic Zimbabwe
Events in this country that is our neighbour hold a promise that a lasting peace in Zimbabwe could be re-established on the basis of the restoration of its independence and the genuine national emancipation of its indigenous majority. Events in Zimbabwe hold the promise that the people of Zimbabwe could once more regain control of the land and the productive resources of their country, enabling them to reconstruct their country into one that offers its inhabitants prosperity and happiness.
As this decade of the `eighties begins we shall this year no doubt see a democratic Zimbabwe begin to play her rightful role in international councils, contributing her equal share to the modelling of a peaceable world order which is just and democratic in all its aspects.
The victory that is within the grasp of the heroic people of Zimbabwe is one that belongs not just to these brother people. It is a victory which belongs to the progressive forces of the world. It is firmly based on the successes scored during the `seventies and constitutes the concrete contribution of the people of Zimbabwe to our collective advance in one inter-dependent, world-wide battle fought on many fronts.
The Seventies saw the final triumph of the outstanding gallant people of Vietnam through the defeat of the occupation forces American imperialism and their puppets throughout Indo-China. The consequences of this historic victory continue to reverberate round the world to this day and constitute a potent force in all current struggles for the emancipation and progress of mankind
Epoch Making Events
In the turbulent wake of these epoch-making events came the victories in Africa with the defeat of Portuguese colonialism, the birth of Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde and Sao Tome e Principe and with the formation of the People`s Republics of Mozambique and Angola, the ushering in of a new historical era on the very borders of South Africa – the very bastion of capitalist exploitation and imperialist reaction on the African continent.
Indeed, no continent remained immune to the confident march of mankind towards a better world. In Europe, fascism suffered defeat and collapsed in Portugal, Spain and Greece. In the Near East, mass popular struggle overthrew the arch-tyrant of Iran, Shah Reza Pahlavi and began the process of the radical restructuring of this former outpost of American imperialism in this region. In the Middle East, the Palestinian struggle won its greatest diplomatic victory with the international recognition of the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. In the Americas, the decade closed with the people of Nicaragua, under the Ieadership of the Sandinista National Front trouncing the US – backed Somoza dynasty. This victory served to cap bold anti-imperialist changes that we had witnessed in the neighbouring islands of the Caribbean, such as Jamaica and Grenada.
The decade of the Seventies began, for us, with the government of the United States confidently predicting that Southern Africa in general, and South Africa, especially, would for the foreseeable future remain in white hands. This illusion was even made the basis of policy through its specific elucidation in that infamous document, Memorandum 39, which the Nixon administration adopted on the eve of the Seventies, in 1969. Yet by 1976, the author of this document, none other than Henry Kissinger, was singing a different tune.
Compelled by the advances of the anti-imperialist movement across the globe, including Southern Africa, in the face of the most determined resistance by the United States and its allies, Kissinger thought it was time that the United States itself should at least begin to give the impression that it welcomed this process of change. Speaking in Lusaka in April 1976, Kissinger declared: “We support self-determination, majority rule, equal rights and human dignity for all the people of Southern Africa”.
Our Own Struggles
Our own struggles within South Africa had forced the Secretary of State to amend his opinions of only a few years earlier. What, therefore, can we say were the victories of the anti-imperialist forces on the South African front during the decade of the Seventies?
Last year, when we spoke to you on this day, we said that more than ever before, we were confident of victory. In declaring 1979 the “Year of the Spear” we called on all our people to take up the challenge of the spirit of Isandlwana. We charged the people, in their entirety, to spread the message of defiance and resistance to all forms of racist rule.
We said this, knowing that you would respond to these calls. Our knowledge and confidence were based on the reality that in the preceding years we had all of us succeeded through struggle to score significant victories in the face of the most brutal enemy opposition.
What were these victories?
- We recovered from the blows that the enemy had dealt us in the Sixties.
- We scored significant successes in rebuilding the forces that had obliged the enemy to declare a state of Emergency in 1960 – a state of emergency which, except in name, he has been forced to maintain up to now.
- The fascist regime had tried to uproot the African National Congress from among the people through a programme of suppression, in its brutality unprecedented in the long history of violent repression in our country. Yet by the beginning of the Seventies the patriots of our country had decided to resume the offensive against the enemy and begun successfully to form new underground units of the ANC, to consolidate old ones and to declare in action to the masses of our people that the ANC lives!
- The enemy had tried to smash the People`s army, Umkhonto we Sizwe, and repeatedly trumpeted his complete victory in the execution of this hopeless task. Yet even he could not avoid occasional admissions that he had not succeeded as well as he thought, if only because he had now and again to bring into his courts newly captured combatants of the People`s Army. In the Seventies you succeeded to rebuild Umkhonto we Sizwe into the force that it is today.
- You succeeded also to regroup as open, above-ground organisations – units of the broad liberation front, defeating the attempts of the enemy to impose a deathly passivity among the oppressed people. New generations of young people joined enthusiastically in this process, as in all other theatres of struggle, guaranteeing the continuity of our struggle until victory.
All this translated itself into the heightened activity of the masses of the people. The astounded apartheid regime, which thought it had pacified all of us by the use of terror, suddenly found itself confronted by the risen people – from the student strikes of 1972, the workers` battles of 1973, through to the mighty Soweto uprising and beyond. It was on the basis of this accumulated and organised strength that we issued our call to you on January 8th last year. We have not been disappointed in your response
The year that has just ended must therefore serve as an inspiration and an example to all of us. Heroic struggles have been waged at Crossroads, Bergville, Alexandra, Klipfontein, at Fatti`s and Moni`s, Frametex, Rainbow Chickens, DTB Cartage, Ciskei Transport Corporation, Elandsrand goldmine. Mighty struggles have broke out at Ladysmith, Hammersdale, Port Elizabeth, Port Shepstone. The Batlokwa in the Northern Transvaal are still locked in brave political combat. The Botha regime had to impose its oppressive “independence” on the people of Venda under conditions of virtual martial law, thanks to the mass rejection of the Bantustan system by our people in this area, as elsewhere in the country.
Umkhonto we Sizwe
The past year has also seen our heroic people`s army Umkhonto we Sizwe hitting at the enemy in daring raids such as Moroka and Orlando in Soweto. We have seen the brave and uncompromising fight waged by the combatants of Umkhonto we Sizwe in the Pietermaritzburg “treason” trial, one of whom, James Mange, today stands in danger of being assassinated by order of a racist law court, unless we wage mass struggles to save his life. A great victory was scored when the young stalwarts of our revolution, Alexander Moumbaris, Stephen Lee and Timothy Jenkin, defying all odds walked out of Pretoria Maximum Security Prison to rejoin the fighting ranks of the African National Congress and Umkhonto we Sizwe.
The past year has also seen thousands of our people reaching into our glorious past remembrance of the historic victory at Isandlwana and thus marking the year, up to this coming January 21st, as the Year of the Spear. The call has gone out to all these thousands that the time has come that we sharpen our spears to continue the heroic example of combat given to us by our fighters at Isandlwana and elsewhere in our country during the wars of resistance to colonial occupation.
During this past year millions inside and outside our country have drawn inspiration from the example set by that giant of a young man, Solomon Mahlangu and his mother, Mrs Martha Mahlangu, South Africa`s “Woman of the Year” in 1979.
What we are saying is that all of us, the oppressed people of South Africa have prepared well for the battles we shall have to wage as the Eighties begin and as we observe the Year of the Charter. We have once more taken to mass action in ever increasing numbers. We have demonstrated to ourselves the power of united mass action. We have shown the enemy that we have once and for all broken his monopoly of arms and the science of modern warfare. From the past and the present we have demonstrated that we remain as before, gallant men, women and youth to whom cowardice and submissiveness are foreign.
Through our activities we have confounded our enemies and tamed their arrogance, as did our forebears, at Isandlwana and elsewhere in our country, whose heroic victories we have been celebrating during the “Year of the Spear”. But it is well to remember that even in those days, a hundred years ago, the enemy did not take his defeat as final. He regrouped and strengthened his forces and attacked us once more. This time victory went to him.
Once more because of our victories the enemy is trying to regroup and strengthen his forces in preparation for an intensified counter-offensive. Thus one of the principal realities of our situation is that the fascist white minority regime in our country remains firmly committed to hold on to its power.
Even in the recent past, leading spokesmen of the apartheid regime have reiterated this resolve, openly stating that whatever reforms the regime is contemplating, these do not include what the racists call the sharing of power. In short, the determined view of the fascists is that power must remain in their hands in perpetuity. This then is the principal goal that the enemy pursues.
As we all know, the enemy is simultaneously engaged in a gigantic and fraudulent cosmetic exercise to improve the image of apartheid. Essentially this fraudulent exercise aims to give the impression that the racist regime is both capable of, and has started, to reform the apartheid system gradually and peacefully out of existence. The truth however is that all that our oppressors are doing is to create new conditions for the perpetuation and further entrenchment of their tyrannical rule.
The more the enemy talks of reform, the more he intensifies reaction. The more he talks of freedom and democracy, the more he perfects and expands his instruments of repression. The more he declares peace, the more he prepares for and actually carries out war. The more he broadcasts that change is taking place or is imminent, the more things remain the same and worsen.
The rulers of our country know that their attempts to mislead and deceive the international community will not save the regime from the continuing and heightening offensive by all of us, the oppressed people of South Africa. They therefore continue to rely on their tried and tested ways and means for the defence of the apartheid system – open terror.
In his Christmas message, the racist President Viljoen did not, and indeed could not, hide the fact that he owes his position, as do his fellow racists, to the repressive state machinery of fascism. Hence he showered messages of goodwill on the racist army and police force and made all manner of promises to these two arms of fascist power to strengthen and honour them.
Indeed the head of the apartheid state could not have spoken otherwise because for the fascist regime to hold on to power means to strengthen the apartheid army and the apartheid police.
It is therefore all the more surprising that despite all this, and despite our daily experience of growing repression and oppression, we can still find some among us who venture to speak out in favour of the Botha regime.
Dialogue with the enemy – a false thesis
I am talking of those among the black people who seem to have developed a fondness for projecting Botha and his gang as a new brand of fascist who is prepared to concede us our democratic demands – those who, consequently, call on us to stop struggling, to wait and watch, allowing Botha time to liquidate his white minority regime and fling wide the gates of our captivity! Among these belong those whose perspective of struggle hinges on the false thesis that dialogue with the enemy and not confrontation with him, will produce the results which the masses of the people consider their inalienable rights.
We do indeed expect that Margaret Thatcher, Carter and other leaders of the imperialist world will speak up in defence of the Botha regime, as they are doing and have done. We expect them to be working feverishly to break the international isolation of this criminal regime and to strengthen it within South Africa. Thatcher and others must do this because they have vast interests to defend in South and Southern Africa, which interests they feel are best protected and expanded by the continuation of the apartheid system. We expect them to advise our people to call off their struggle, or to pause and rest; in other words to do the impossible: to surrender! Such is the language of imperialism. It is not the language of the people.
It is opportune that we remind ourselves of some of the teachings of the leaders of our national liberation movement. In this case we want to refer to what Nelson Mandela wrote in 1953 under the very appropriate title: “The Shifting Sands of Illusion“.
Here is what this great patriot said: “Talk of democratic and constitutional means (of struggle) can only have a basis in reality for those people who enjoy democratic and constitutional rights. We must accept the fact that in our country we cannot win one single victory of political freedom without overcoming a desperate resistance on the part of the government, and that victory will not come of itself but only as a result of a bitter struggle by the oppressed people for the overthrow of racial discrimination….No organisation whose interests are identical with those of the toiling masses will advocate conciliation to win its demands….The only sure road to (the) goal (of freedom) leads through the uncompromising and determined mass struggle for the overthrow of fascism and the establishment of democratic forms of government.”
The time has come that those who wis to be counted among the forces of nation liberation in our country should extricate themselves from the shifting sands of illusion that we will win our demands by dialogue and conciliation with the fascist regime. They should instead, as Nelson Mandela said: “mobilise from our ranks the forces capable of waging a determined and militant struggle against all forms of reaction” for the overthrow of the fascist regime, for national liberation of the black oppressed majority and the creation of a democratic South Africa.
Under one banner
The need for the unity of the patriotic and democratic forces of our country has never been greater than it is today. Last year, on the occasion of the 67th anniversary of the formation of the African National Congress, which we described then, as we do now, as the expression of the unity of the oppressed, we invited all our countrymen in their various organisational formations to seek and find ways of cooperation and collaboration in the quest for justice in our country. We said then, as we do once more today on the occasion of the 68th anniversary of the ANC and the 25th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, that the enemy of freedom for the peoples has evolved a divisive structure which has found support among some of the victims of that structure.
Are we, however, more united today than we were this time last year? So vital is unity to our victory that this question demands an honest answer. Let us therefore start with the ANC itself which, as we have said, constitutes the expression of the unity of the oppressed. To put the matter in other words any division within the ANC inevitably leads to division among the people.
As the current custodians of the leadership of this organisation which you, the oppressed people, and the democratic forces of our country have spent decades building, we do here wish to report to you that your organisation is today as united as ever in all its ranks, with the leadership at home and abroad, between the leadership and the ordinary membership and among all its contingents wherever they are to be found, including the distinguished ones that as yet remain in captivity in the enemy`s dungeons.
Similarly, Umkhonto we Sizwe, the army of the people of South Africa, is itself united throughout its heroic ranks, within its detachments and between its cadres, its commanding personnel and its political leadership. Thanks to this unity, it has decisively and successfully repulsed enemy attempts to destroy it from within through the infiltration of spies and provocateurs.
Both the ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe have been able to achieve these outstanding results on the basis of their adherence to the perspective contained in the Freedom Charter, to the strategy of our Movement and people for the seizure of power by the masses of our people through a combination of political and armed struggle, and to our internationalist orientation which is based on strengthening the unity of the world progressive and anti-imperialist movement.
As the embodiment of the liberation forces of our country, deriving that historic role from its foundation by our forebears, and maintained as such by the subsequent generations that have served and continue to serve in its ranks, the ANC has, since our call last year, sought to carry out its duty to bring together all our countrymen in their various organisational formations and to enhance the level of cooperation and collaboration among all of us. As a result of these efforts it has become very clear to us that more dialogue is called for among us, the oppressed, to seek and find common responses to our common oppression and exploitation, to ensure the certainty that this year and in future we shall actually act together as one people with one destiny.
But we must insist, as Nelson Mandela did, that “no true alliance can be built on the shifting sands of evasions, illusions and opportunism”. Our unity has to be based on honesty among ourselves, the courage to face reality, adherence to what has been agreed upon, and to principle.
Certainly it subtracts from the process of the unification of our people in action if we fall victim to the traps that the enemy has set and we start ourselves encouraging false divisions and antagonisms, as for instance between one ethnic group or so-called tribe and another, between one nationality and another, between our rural and our urban people, between the young and the old, between the liberation movement inside the country and those described as “in exile”, and indeed, strange to say, between the ANC and the rest of the patriotic forces of our country. It is understandable that the enemy should try and promote these antagonisms. It makes no sense that we should want to do it for him.
Yet the fact must be admitted that during this past year we have seen many attempts to gain temporary advantage by seeking to foment and exploit these false divisions and antagonisms. In certain instances matters have even degenerated into public and personal bouts of mutual vilification. It would be playing into the hands of the enemy if we allowed the politics of our struggle to become a contest among the powerless for power over one another. As Chief Luthuli said as long ago as 1953 in his address to the Annual Conference of the ANC of that year, “we should not give respite to the Government and those who support it, by indulging in a dogfight with other groups, provided of course, those groups by word and deed do not stand in our way…”.
To the extent that there are some among us who continue to ignore this injunction, to that extent do we face some impediment in the task of uniting all the oppressed and toiling masses and all democrats, to confront together the real enemy, the Botha regime and those who support it, the racist system of fascist oppression and economic exploitation, and the external forces which maintain it.
The masses of the people have however demonstrated in no uncertain terms that our situation demands unity in action. As we have said, from the Batlokwa in the North through Ladysmith, Port Shepstone and Port Elizabeth to Crossroads in the South, the demand of our people is one: let us unite in action to confront the criminal regime headed by PW Botha and Magnus Malan.
It will be recalled that this time last year we called upon all opponents of racial arrogance, domination and white supremacy to unleash, during the Year of the Spear, a determined assault on the artificial political, economic and racist barriers which go under the term apartheid or separate development. We invited all true patriots to join in this effort
Defeat Bantustan “independence”
The factual record since then is that the enemy has succeeded to set up even more of these separate development barriers. Venda is of course the outstanding example, where we have had another fraudulent “independent” Bantustan forcibly imposed on the people against their express will. There has also been a virtual mushrooming of the so-called community councils, while none of the already existing separate development institutions has collapsed or disappeared through our actions against them. Further spinning their oppressor web, PW Botha and Piet Koornhof went on their evangelising tour of the Bantustans and Soweto, duly pledged to quicken the pace for the implementation of the separate development programme, and offered us seats on the advisory committees to advise them how best to oppress us.
During this year of the 68th anniversary of the ANC, the beginning of the last but one decade of the present century, we must together address ourselves to the question: how much longer shall we allow ourselves to be bought to serve the perpetuation of our own oppression? This question applies with equal force to those serving within the “separate development” institutions.
Correctly, and responding to the lead given many years ago by the ANC on this issue, the vast majority of our people stand in deadly opposition to the separate development programme in all its forms. Given that the programme does exist, the question is how, firstly to stop it, secondly to destroy or render it inoperative. There are several responses to the question.
We know that some of our people will have nothing whatever to do with these institutions. We know that some are participating as irretrievable traitors or fortune seekers. We also know, however, that there are some who are participating in this enemy-imposed programme in pursuance of patriotic objectives, believing that such participation would weaken and facilitate the destruction of these institutions from within.
Others have entered these dummy bodies to block and keep out self-confessed stooges of the regime, and to convert these institutions into platforms of struggle against the enemy rather than instruments for the implementation of the enemy`s apartheid programme.
Where the united weight of active mass resistance fails to prevent the imposition of a dummy institution, public interest focuses on those who, working within this separate development institution, defend their role as one of patriotic participation as distinct from one which helps to condemn our people to perpetual domination.
But what constitutes patriotic participation in the enemy`s separate development institutions or programme? We suggest: if, as a result of such participation, the development or progress of the programme is halted; if its functional capacity to serve the enemy is restricted and reduced to nil, if the masses of the people use the institution to wage mass struggles over a whole range of issues that agitate them, such as land, mass removals, citizenship rights, evictions and deportations, wages, rents and rates, prices, fares, housing, taxes and other levies, health and educational services, police harassment and brutality, unemployment, enemy soldiers thrust into our midst as teachers and doctors to tame us for domination.
These issues are some of the day-to-day expressions of the apartheid system and permeate every part of our country, whether it is “independent” or not. They constitute a challenging battleground for patriots, a rallying cry for the mobilisation of the people for struggle and liberation for they can only be resolved with the seizure of power from white minority regime.
These, then, are some of the considerations which should distinguish between patriotic participation and an exercise in salesmanship.
We therefore once more renew our call to all opponents of racial arrogance, domination and white supremacy to unleash, this year, a determined mass assault on the racist barriers which go under the term apartheid or separate development.
Constellation of States
The seriousness with which the enemy is pursuing his objective of holding on to power at all costs is evident from his declared determination to buy some of us out by creating a black middle class. At the same time, in the aftermath of the Wiehahn and Rieckert Commissions, he wants to capture control of and emasculate the very trade union movement which we fought for over so many years and which throughout these years he refused to recognise. Once more, understanding very clearly the use of force, the enemy has set its sights on putting as many of our people under arms as possible, both within and outside the framework of the Bantustans. He intends to use these black puppet forces, naturally, as his cannon fodder, the front troops with which he will confront the combatants of Umkhonto we Sizwe, while conserving the white forces to enjoy and protect the fruits of the victory which the enemy fondly and falsely imagines he will win.
The fascist regime is of course also interested in the geographic setting of South Africa, namely the Continent of Africa. Through its new-fangled scheme for a so-called constellation of states, the regime is doing all in its power to turn every single independent state in Southern Africa into its puppet, to bring under its military, economic and political domination, the countries and millions of people in Southern Africa.
As a token of his intent, he has also seen fit to announce to the whole world that should the Patriotic Front be elected to power in Zimbabwe next month, then he will remove it by force of arms and instal in its place his own chosen puppets. This strategy failed ignominiously in Angola in 1975-76. It sought, by invasion and military occupation, to place the fascist regime`s own representatives as the government of a nominally independent African state, but otherwise no different from the Bantustans that he has already created.
It was with respect to this very real threat that earlier we said current events in Zimbabwe hold the promise of progressive change. The transformation of that promise into reality can only be based on the defeat of the South African racists and their allies in Zimbabwe and their eviction from that country.
The fact of the support of the imperialist powers such as Britain, the United States, France, West Germany and others for this grand enemy strategy both for within and outside South Africa means that the outcome of the confrontation in Southern Africa has global implications. For us it means that we have to fight against the formidable united strength of the imperialist world.
But however much the odds seem stacked against us we must fight to win our liberation. We have our future in our own hands. Our actions will determine our destiny.
In the meantime, however, the brotherly people of Zimbabwe, led by the Patriotic Front and through its heroic armed forces, have won a victory of immense international dimensions, which will inevitably reinforce the revolutionary forces of Southern Africa.
Likewise with the Namibian people, under the heroic leadership of SWAPO, intensifying the liberation war against the South African fascists, Namibia shall soon be free.
The Year of the Charter
This year, 1980, marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People on June 26th, 1955. It is the task of all the patriotic and democratic forces of our country to observe this anniversary in a fitting manner.
What is the Freedom Charter? The Freedom Charter contains the fundamental perspective of the vast majority of the people of South Africa of the kind of liberation that we all of us are fighting for. Hence it is not merely the Freedom Charter of the African National Congress and its allies. Rather it is the Charter of the people of South Africa for liberation. It was drawn up on the basis of the demands of the vast masses of our country and adopted at an elected Congress of the people. Because it came from the people, it remains still a people`s Charter, the one basic political statement of our goals to which all genuinely democratic and patriotic forces of South Africa adhere.
In observing the 25th anniversary of its adoption, therefore we need to make available millions of copies of the Freedom Charter to all our people both young and old, in the towns and the countryside so that these great masses of our people can once more renew their pledge of dedication to the future that it visualises.
By that act we shall be reaffirming our commitment to struggle and our determination to bring into being the kind of social order in South Africa that we, the oppressed majority, consider just and equitable.
When we together drew up and adopted the Freedom Charter we set ourselves firmly against all so-called reformist solutions of the South African problem. We said we do not fight to reform apartheid but to abolish it in its entirety. We said we do not fight to gain some illusory liberties in areas set aside for us by the enemy or as this or the other national group. We said we want freedom for all our people as equals, brothers and sisters in one united and democratic South Africa. We did not call for “power sharing” with the regime of the oppressors but firmly and unequivocally challenged the legitimacy of that regime and its right to govern us. Neither did we speak of special and unequal relations between South Africa and her neighbours, Africa and the rest of the world. Rather we stated the matter plainly that each people has a right to independence and self-government and to equal status one with the other, and that it was on this basis that peace, friendship and cooperation among the peoples can be secured.
This means that when we observe the 25th anniversary of the Freedom Charter we must simultaneously direct our attention against the enemy`s strategy in its totality because it is in fact diametrically opposed to what we are fighting for.
In this Year of the Charter, we must address ourselves afresh to the question of the illegitimacy of the apartheid regime. We must state the point boldly that this regime has no right to rule our country.
The apartheid regime has brought untold suffering to the vast majority of the people of South Africa. There is no need for us to spell this out in detail because we all of us are suffering daily as a result of the criminal policies of this regime.
Forward to a People`s Government
There are over two million blacks unemployed in our country while billions of Rand are spent on the war machinery to suppress us. More than five million Africans have been rendered stateless. More than three million Africans have been affected by the brutal system of mass removals. Cemeteries throughout the country continue to fill up with the graves of black infants and children in this Year of the Child, at a time when the pockets of the already rich white minority bulge out dramatically with the money earned from the prices of gold and other minerals which have gone sky high. The jails are full to overflowing with people imprisoned under the pass laws as well as so-called criminals many of whom turned to crime as a result of the -apartheid system.
Millions go to bed hungry with little prospect of food the following morning. Millions are ill in health but with no possibility of medical attention. Even beyond our borders yet other millions cannot go about their legitimate business with a feeling of peace and security because the murderous agents of PW Botha and Magnus Malan are bent on committing aggression against independent Africa.
These crimes against our people, against Africa and against humanity are perpetrated by a regime devoid of any legitimacy to rule our country because, as the Freedom Charter states, it is not “based on the will of all the people”. All our struggles at all levels this year must be accompanied by the call – “Forward to a People`s Government!” To give meaning to this call, and in observing the 25th anniversary of the Freedom Charter and renewing our commitment to the democratic demands contained within it, we must launch mass struggles everywhere and around all the issues that both agitate us and are reflected in the Freedom Charter.
Our struggle, the victorious struggles of the Zimbabwe and Namibian people, the victories of the African revolution as a whole, as well as the historic duty that rests upon us as a people to liberate our country – all these together demand of us, this Year of the Charter, to embark on:
- mass action to remove the Botha regime from power;
- mass action to destroy the separate development institutions, or to turn them against the enemy;
- mass action to fight the enemy on all fronts and on all issues;
- mass action to step up the popular war of liberation
- mass rejection of all reformism and attempts to disarm us by seeking to delude us that foreign investment, dialogue with the regime and peaceful change can ever liberate us;
- mass action to observe the Year of the Charter as a year of the people`s commitment to a genuinely democratic South Africa, and popular struggles to bring about such a democratic South Africa.
On this historic day in the struggle of the world forces of progress, at the beginning of a new decade:
- we salute the Hero of the People, James Mncedisi Mange, illegally incarcerated in the enemy`s death cells and pledge that we shall stand with you at all times;
- we salute the Hero of the People,
- Solomon Mahlangu, and pledge our loyalty to the cause for which you so bravely perished;
- we salute our leaders and brothers and sisters held in the enemy jails in South Africa and Rhodesia, as well as those in detention and on trial, the banned and the banished, and pledge that we shall not rest until we have secured your liberty;
- we welcome back among the fighting ranks of the ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe the daring revolutionaries Alexander Moumbaris, Stephen Lee and Timothy Jenkin;
- we salute the Patriotic Front and SWAPO and the brother peoples of Zimbabwe and Namibia and pledge our determination to fight side by side with you until a genuine and popular peace prevails in Southern Africa
- we greet the peoples of Southern Africa, their governments and parties and pledge that we shall spare no sacrifice in fighting to ensure the destruction of the apartheid regime which is our common and immediate enemy;
- we greet our sister liberation movements, the PLO, Polisario, Fretilin, the people of Puerto Rico and all the peoples
- fighting for their national emancipation;
- we greet the peoples of Africa, the Socialist countries, Asia and Latin America, Scandinavia; the progressive, anti-racist governments and peoples of the West, convinced that in this new decisive phase of the struggle our ties of solidarity will further strengthen in the interests of a world free of national oppression, racism and the threat of war; we greet all our struggling people inside and outside South Africa and reaffirm that only by our own struggle shall we win victory;
- we salute the militants of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe and all the other fighting patriotic forces of our country on whom the burden rests to organise and lead our people in the intense battles that lie ahead. The eyes of the masses of our people and the rest of humanity are on you.
A Great Decade
We wish you all, and all our friends and fellow combatants in Southern Africa and throughout the world, a great year and a great decade – great in the new victories that our efforts shall surely bring, in the noble struggle against imperialism and reaction.
On this occasion, January 8th, 1980, the 68th anniversary of the ANC, and the year of the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter, in the name of our leadership and all our members, in the name the people`s army Umkhonto we Sizwe, in the name of the suffering and struggling millions of South Africa, I formally declare this “The Year of the Charter” and charge all the patriotic forces of our country with the task of observing this Year of the Charter with courage and determination. We call on all our people everywhere to take up the challenge of the 80`s which have brought the centre of gravity of Africa`s liberation struggle to our land – to its cities, towns and villages; its industries, factories and farmlands; its mountains, plains and bushveld.
The struggle continues!
Forward to a People`s Government!
Victory is Certain!
All Power to the People!