January 8th Statements
Statement of the National Executive Committee on the occasion of the 78th Anniversary of the ANC
The year of people’s action for a democratic South Africa
Compatriots and comrades;
Brothers and sisters:
A New Year is upon us. The President of your movement, the ANC, Comrade Oliver Tambo, is unable to address you today as he has not yet fully recovered his health. We speak to you today, January 8th, the 78th Anniversary of the ANC, on his express instructions. We have, in the first instance, the honour and privilege to extend to you all and to all our friends everywhere, his New Year greetings as well as those of the rest of the leadership of our movement and the membership as a whole. Similarly, we greet our revolutionary allies, the SACP and SACTU.
Our Historic Achievements
We observed 1989 as the Year of Mass Action for People’s Power. We are proud today that we have, as a result of our mass actions, come much closer than ever before to the goal we set ourselves, that of transforming South Africa into a united, democratic and non-racial country.
We salute all the patriotic forces of our country for this historic achievement. Millions joined in action to bring this result about. The overwhelmingly successful general strikes, the historic campaign of mass defiance which was characterised by our refusal to submit to repression and state terrorism, the continuing rent boycotts, the mass rallies and demonstrations, the boycott of the elections to the Houses of Representatives and Delegates in the tricameral parliament, all contributed in creating the mood of expectation that pervades our country today.
So too did the reclaiming by our people in the Bantustans of their South African citizenship, the hunger strikes carried out by the State of Emergency detainees, the sterling struggles waged by our white compatriots against conscription and for a complete rejection of the apartheid system and its racist tenets, the heroic actions of the people’s army Umkhonto we Sizwe, and the continued offensive of the international community. Of decisive importance as well has been the implementation of the New York Accords concerning Angola and Namibia which opened the way for the progress of the people of Namibia towards independence from apartheid South Africa.
Thanks to the heroic struggles we have waged up to this point, the situation has arisen whereby there is probably no thinking South African today who does not expect that change must come to our long-suffering country. Yet, it is a moment that harbours both the potential for change and the ever present danger of a terrible bloodbath. What the outcome will be depends on the balance of forces, the steadfastness of the democratic movement and the wisdom of all the people of our country.
Apartheid must be Abolished
What we must make very clear is that the overwhelming majority of our people will not rest until the apartheid system is totally abolished and a non-racial democracy in a united South Africa established. Let those who hold power in our country fix this firmly in their minds that the people will accept nothing less than this and that our common motherland will know neither peace nor stability until this objective is realised.
Our rejection of the apartheid system has always been and remains uncompromising. This system is a crime against humanity. No elements of this crime can be permitted to continue, whatever the excuses advanced for their preservation. The people’s demand that it must be eradicated in its entirety is non-negotiable.
We can take no other position precisely because apartheid has meant and continues to mean some of the most terrible suffering that any people anywhere in the world have endured since the end of the Second World War. It has meant the death of millions of people through hunger and deprivation that are a direct result of this system. It has meant the death of hundreds of thousands throughout our region as a result of repression, state terrorism and undeclared war waged for the sole object of protecting the apartheid system.
It signifies the murder of some of the best sons and daughters of all the people of our country, whether on the gallows by official hangmen, in the streets and villages by the police and the army, in prison cells by licensed torturers or elsewhere by the official secret death squads of the Pretoria regime. It has meant the dehumanisation of an entire people. It has led to the inevitable conflict in our country which still has the possibility to claim the lives of so many of our people as we fight on, because we must, to end the apartheid crime against humanity.
National Party – Apartheid Architect
These days, the National Party also speaks of its commitment to end apartheid. The unlamented and melodramatic disappearance of PW Botha from the political scene is presented as a milestone signifying a change of direction by this apartheid party. Its leaders must, however, understand if we remain unconvinced and sceptical and demand that they translate their words into actions.
The same National Party occupies an uncontested position as the sole architect of the apartheid system. For over forty years it has, systematically and callously, constructed this system of white minority domination and used the most brutal means and methods to entrench and defend it, upholding the destructive notion that the security of the white population depended on white domination.
It has trained and equipped an army and a police force as well as a phalanx of civil servants, to say nothing of the white population in general, to stamp viciously and mercilessly on any person and organisation that threatens the survival of the apartheid system.
Repeatedly over the decades, it has thrown these forces of repression into action and built up a tradition of barbarism among them. It would be foolhardy of us to forget that, however engaging the smiles they might wear on their faces today, these forces still hold a deadly sword in their hand, capable of being used for the purpose for which they have been trained – the ruthless defence of the apartheid system of white minority domination and exploitation.
South Africa Belongs to All
Throughout the seven decades of our existence we have fought against white minority rule and advanced a perspective of equality in freedom for all South Africans. We have put forward and defended the idea that South Africa belongs to all who live in it , black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people. We espoused these principles because we value freedom, justice, democracy and security for all the people of our country.
We also adopted these positions because we cherish peace and knew that so long as injustice persisted so long would the people be denied peace. In addition, and in pursuit of the twin objectives of justice and peace, and as the Pretoria regime can confirm from its own files, we repeatedly asked successive white rulers of our country to enter into negotiations with genuine representatives of our people. Even when we were compelled to take up arms, we tried to conduct a humane war with as few casualties as possible. This was precisely because as a movement for national liberation we value life and fight to assert the right to life in the face of a system that is inherently violent and murderous.
Create the Climate for Negotiations
Because the democratic forces of our country value peace, while being committed to genuine freedom for all the people of our country, they have, once more and in unity, put forward a proposal for the political resolution of the conflict in which our country is enmeshed. That proposal, as contained in the Harare and UN General Assembly Declarations, is intended for the sole purpose of ending the system of apartheid as quickly and with as little bloodshed and destruction as possible. So far, Pretoria’s response to this historic proposal has amounted to nothing more than political gamesmanship which has absolutely nothing to do with a serious effort to advance towards a mutually acceptable agreement to end the apartheid system.
It still remains for the Pretoria regime to create a climate conducive to negotiations. In putting forward this universally accepted demand, we are not asking for special favours. We are asking that all who should participate in any process of negotiations should enjoy equal political opportunities. On this historic occasion, we reiterate that the democratic forces of our country will not be terrorised into negotiations and cannot be expected to enter into such a process until they enjoy the same freedoms to engage in political activity as does the National Party.
A little while ago, we converged in Johannesburg in our tens of thousands to welcome, in a disciplined and orderly manner, the leaders of our people who had been released from prison after a quarter-of-a-century of incarceration. We took advantage of the space that had emerged to hold this rally as we had organised the marches conducted in the course of our defiance campaign.
While recognising these advances, we have made it plain that that great son of our people, who continues to wage a principled struggle from prison as a disciplined and committed member and leader of the ANC, Nelson Mandela, as well as other patriots, remains in prison. The State of Emergency remains in place. Organisations and individuals continue to be banned and restricted. The de Klerk regime still has a long way to go before it can claim that it has ended repression directed against the national liberation and democratic movement of our country. So long as this repression continues, so long shall we struggle against it.
Therefore, whether the potential for a political settlement is transformed into reality remains the urgent responsibility of the Pretoria regime. For our part, we are committed to seize any real opportunity that might emerge, genuinely to seek a political agreement for a speedy end of the apartheid system. It ought to be obvious that we, who are the victims of this heinous system, can never act in a manner designed either to perpetuate it or to lead to the loss of even more lives.
Despite the promises that have been made to the contrary, the apartheid system remains in place. An apartheid white minority regime continues to rule our country. There is in power a party of racism which has grown accustomed to power and cannot imagine itself as anything except a ruling party. The very real conditions of our lives, including the denial of democratic political rights, demand that we continue the struggle until we have removed the yoke of oppression.
No to Group Rights
Compatriots, the need for all of us, black and white, to unite around the perspective of one, democratic and non-racial South Africa has never been greater than it is today. This not only requires that we should embrace this perspective but also that we should join in struggle together, marching shoulder to shoulder for its realisation.
We take this opportunity once more to salute the Conference for a Democratic Future. We united at this historic Conference to forge a mighty formation of struggle for a democratic South Africa. By that act and in our decisions, we put on the agenda, as the issue of the day, the transformation of our country into a genuine democracy, in which the people would govern, on the basis of one person one vote in a non-racial society, and not on a group basis. This is a demand that we must imprint on all our banners as we continue and intensify our struggle for freedom.
Confronting directly the manoeuvres of the De Klerk regime to draw us into an apartheid structure which would parcel out meaningless portions of power in a so-called power-sharing arrangement that would leave the white minority as the dominating force, we correctly called for an elected Constituent Assembly that would be truly representative of the people and accountable to them; one that would, once and for all, answer the question of who the genuine representatives of the people are. We must fight for this demand to ensure that power does indeed rest in the hands of the people, and not appointees of Pretoria and other self-seeking charlatans.
The fact that the Conference for a Democratic Future took place and that it arrived at these and other important decisions, should not lead us to ignore some of the weaknesses that emerged during its preparation and its sessions. One of the most important lessons these point to, is that there needs to be greater interaction among all the forces that were represented at the Conference, in a conscious effort to think and plan together on a continuous basis. United action becomes easier for all of us to achieve when we have all participated in the process of determining what action we should take together.
Our Strategic Objective
This pregnant moment in our history, which demands of all of us that we make the decisive push for the democratic transformation of our country, requires clarity of thought in terms of our tactical and strategic objectives, without confusing the two. It requires that we should know the goals of the national democratic revolution and refuse to fall victim to promises of pies-in-the-sky made by demagogues who know they cannot even deliver a stale slice of bread.
Our first strategic objective is to restore democratic political power into the hands of the people in a united and non-racial South Africa. Once this objective is achieved, it will be the task of people’s power to dismantle the system of apartheid and to undertake the process of fundamental socio-economic transformation, directed at meeting the aspirations of the people in the manner spelt out in the Freedom Charter, the Constitutional Guidelines and the Workers’ Charter that are currently under discussion. These are the strategic objectives of the national democratic revolution around which are united the millions of our people, a strategic unity which we must guard and protect like the apple of our eye.
Need for Tactical Flexibility
Tactics have to do with how we conduct the struggle from one moment to the next, responding to a changing situation. By their nature they require flexibility. The correct tactical approach also demands that we should, at all times, understand the balance of forces correctly and not overestimate or underestimate the strength and possibilities of either our own forces or those of our opponents. Above all and in the present situation, we should ‘claim no easy victories’ and avoid the temptation of euphoria.
In addition to our clarity on such issues, the victory of the democratic revolution will depend on how organised we are and how successful we are in bringing the millions of our people into continuous and united struggle as conscious fighters for their own liberation. From this, it is clear that we still have many tasks ahead of us.
The Tasks Ahead
Of central importance is the need for us further to strengthen in every way possible and necessary the organised formations of the democratic movement. The truth is that many of these continue to show obvious weaknesses in terms of how the membership is organised, the uneven level of consciousness, the strength and cohesion of the leadership structures and their accountability to the membership as well as the contact of these formations with the masses of the people.
Organise our Fighting Formations
In all these organisations there are adequate numbers of fairly well-prepared cadres who should be able to address these issues and enable those democratic formations affected, rapidly to correct any mistakes and improve their capacity to function effectively. The goal of ensuring the proper organisation of our fighting formations is a priority task without whose fulfilment we shall be hampered in terms of taking the struggle further forward.
We must also not forget the reality that millions of our people remain unorganised and maintain weak contact with the organisations of the democratic movement. This is an issue that we should also address constantly, to build organisation and draw even more of our people into struggle.
Organise and Mobilise in the Countryside
This definitely affects the masses of our people in the countryside. Important strides have been made in organising these heroic masses who are also deeply interested in their own emancipation and that of their country as a whole. But more needs to be done.
We therefore hail and wish to encourage very strongly the efforts being made to organise the agricultural workers. Inspiring progress has been made in the establishment of youth and women’s organisations in the countryside as well as democratic village committees and political organisations. We need further to expedite these processes by ensuring the availability of resources to carry out this work and by elaborating programmes of action together with these rural masses, in order to mobilise them into struggle.
A special tribute is due to the traditional leaders who have combined themselves into the Congress of Traditional Leaders. Having broken away from the stable of those who help to administer the apartheid system, these leaders have regained the respect of the people and are a valuable and indispensable component of the genuine forces for change. They have a responsibility to draw other traditional leaders into their democratic formation as well as participate together with the rest of the democratic movement in organising and mobilising the people in the countryside into struggle.
We also salute those who operate within the bantustan system but have elected to join the people as part of the mighty and invincible army that fights for a united, democratic and non-racial South Africa. We trust that these developments have ensured that never again shall we, as the democratic movement, abandon our task of organising these forces into struggle, regardless of the fact that they serve in enemy-created structures.
We also remind those who have not yet followed this example that, by their actions, they too have the possibility to be counted as patriots who overcame the short-lived temptations of the moment and saw that the future lies not in the perpetuation of apartheid but in its destruction, and its replacement by a social order which they will be honoured to construct as they would have participated in its introduction.
Working Class Unity
As we have agreed in previous years, millions of workers remain outside the ranks of the organised democratic trade union movement. We have to continue to devote maximum attention to this issue to ensure that the overwhelming majority of the workers of our country are organised. All of us must join hands with Cosatu and its affiliates to organise both the unorganised and the unemployed.
The unity of the working class is one of the most important weapons in the hands of the workers and the democratic movement as a whole. It is therefore an objective for which we have to strive continuously. In this regard, we would like to welcome the unity victories the democratic trade union movement scored during the course of the year 1989. Progress is also being made in the vital task of uniting the teachers. Clearly, we need to move with greater speed in pursuit of this objective.
Further work also remains to be done to reach out to other organised formations of workers, including the white or white-led trade unions. It is necessary to show these workers that their fundamental interests are best served by joining the forces that are inexorably bringing a democratic South Africa into being and not those that still cling to a criminal past whose days are, in any case, numbered.
Quite clearly and correctly, the general tendency among the workers of our country is progress towards ever greater unity, whatever the problems we have to overcome in achieving this goal. It is therefore all the more disturbing that there should be some who, while claiming to represent the genuine interests of the working class as a whole, work persistently and unashamedly to wreck and sabotage the unity of the working class.
Sooner rather than later, the ordinary working people whom they lead will wake up to realise that these leaders are isolating them from the majority of the organised workers of our country for purely selfish and sectarian reasons. We call on those responsible to abandon the path they have embarked upon and the objectives they have set themselves, all of which only serve the interests of the counter-revolution.
The democratic movement as a whole has demonstrated more than once that it is ready and willing to listen to the views of the thousands of workers affected by the unhealthy divisive process within the trade union movement, to respect their feelings and, in the interests of the workers themselves and the oppressed masses of our country, to work patiently to achieve unity, without creating a situation of victors and losers. Let all honest patriots act now to build unity rather than to sow division, to help build a democratic future rather than pull backwards towards a racist past.
Peace in Natal
In this context, we need to re-emphasise the absolute importance of the black oppressed. The continuing bloodbath in Natal poses an urgent challenge to all of us to intensify our efforts to bring about peace. We must not be discouraged by those who are playing around with the lives of the people with the objective of gaining an empty political advantage, but must reach out to the people so that they impose peace on those who seem to relish death.
Emancipation of Women
As we speak, an important and exciting conference of the women of our country is taking place in the Netherlands. This is the Malibongwe Conference. We salute the women comrades and compatriots who have gathered in Amsterdam and look forward to the results of their conference which must have an important impact on the entirety of our work, regarding the mass involvement of women in the struggle and their emancipation from the yoke of triple oppression.
The overwhelming majority of the women of our country, the most oppressed section of our population, remain lamentably unorganised and under-organised. As yet, because of this, they remain by and large a reserve force of the liberation movement of our country. In good measure this is so because even the most developed sections of this movement have not addressed seriously the issue of emancipation of women. The consequent continued political marginalisation of women itself works to ensure that they too are not positioned to intervene in a decisive manner to assert the centrality of the liberation of women in the whole process of achieving national and social emancipation.
The time has come that the democratic movement as a whole and all its activists should adopt concepts and practices that overturn old modes of approach towards the female half of the population of our country. We must ensure that the women are organised from the local level upwards and draw them into struggle in their millions and as equal participants at all levels of organisation and regardless of the form of struggle. The mass involvement of the women is vital for our success in the objective we have set ourselves, that of ensuring the speediest democratic transformation of our country.
By achieving this mass participation, we will also prepare for the situation in future when we shall have to transform the legal and constitutional framework, the economy, culture, ideology and other forms of human existence in such a way that ours does in fact become a non-sexist society.
Youth – the Pride of our Nation
The heroic youth of our country, the great pride of all our people, have continued to occupy their position among the front ranks of the forces that fight for liberation. We salute them and urge them further to deepen their involvement in the struggle, as the creative but disciplined and responsible force that they have been. It is of particular importance that the youth should also pay maximum attention to the question of strengthening their own organisation. During the height of the repression under the current state of emergency, the apartheid state made a special effort to weaken the democratic organisations of the youth.
Good progress is being made in reconstituting old structures and creating new ones where none existed before. This work should continue so as to draw the millions of our youth into organised formations of the democratic movement. In this process, we also need to pay particular attention to the political education of the youth as part of the common effort to ensure that they continue to play their role as one of the most important contingents of the democratic movement.
Education for Liberation
Among its tasks, the democratic student movement should, together with other forces, address once again, in a systematic manner, the issue of the transformation of the educational system. Taking advantage of the space we have created through struggle, we should try to determine what can be done even now, to produce the kind of young intellectual whom a democratic South Africa will need. To do this effectively also requires that we should be organised. It also means that those who are so organised should not fall victim to revolutionary arrogance and be satisfied to walk alone, leaving behind many other students who might require further education and persuasion to join the democratic movement.
An important responsibility also devolves on teachers and lecturers to participate in this process of the transformation of the educational system.
Role of Intelligentsia
This issue throws up the important question of the role of the intellectuals of our country in the struggle today and in the processes of fundamental social transformation tomorrow. It is our deeply held belief that we need to develop a strong and active democratic movement among the intelligentsia of our country as well. It is true that serious efforts in this direction have begun. Much more still remains to be done. It is very important that the vast body of intellectuals in our country realise that the situation demands that they too should be firmly committed to the democratic vision for which so many have perished.
Faith in Struggle
There is also a continuing responsibility on the part of the religious community of our country to deepen their engagement in the struggle to end apartheid. The ‘standing for the truth campaign’ has played an important role in enabling parts of this community to contribute its share to the forward movement towards a democratic South Africa. In the period ahead of us, greater rather than less involvement will be expected of the religious community.
Prominent religious figures have played an outstanding role in the fight against injustice. We salute these grjeat patriots. They have been prepared to sacrifice their even lives to remain true to their beliefs. It remains for all other people of faith to follow this example and by their involvement in action against apartheid, help shorten the lifespan of this system and bring life where death was the order of the day.
The democratic movement as a whole continues to grapple with the important question of developing a genuinely non-racial, mass sports movement. This too is a matter of importance. We need to encourage ever more of our people, both young and old, to participate in sport. This is not only necessary for health, but is also an important means by which the youth occupies itself in a constructive manner. The end of apartheid is also going to mean that we shall, once more, rejoin the world sporting community as accepted competitors. This certain prospect should inspire as many of us as possible to take to the field.
We reiterate our strong opposition to all rebel tours. These are apartheid tours, intended to reinforce this evil system. They serve further to entrench racism in sport and are a counter-force to the efforts that our sports people are making to develop a non-racial sports movement. It remains our common responsibility vigorously to oppose the rebel tours that are due to take place and demand that the apartheid collaborators go home.
We welcome and strongly encourage the steps taken to unite the various sports bodies within each code, on the basis of non-racialism and a commitment to the Olympic principles. This should also play an important role in destroying the divisions among our people, and the resulting antagonisms, which are the heritage of the apartheid system. In this context, we also wish to welcome the emergence of the National Sports Congress and urge that it ensures that it continues to develop as an organisation of sports people who must, among other things, also make their contribution to ensure the speedy end of the apartheid system, in the interest of all sports people and sport itself.
Strengthen all People’s Organisations
We must, of course, also strengthen other organisations of the people such as the civic associations, the NECC, and the organisations which bring together our cultural workers.
Compatriots and fellow freedom-fighters:
To be victorious in the struggle to liquidate the apartheid system and transform our country into a non-racial democracy requires that we should be organised. Our organisation must be capable of reaching and mobilising the millions of our people into struggle as a united force. They must be able to handle the complicated situation ahead of us, defeating any attempt to break them or render them ineffective.
Programme of Action
To achieve all this they have to be strong. They have to be well organised, with a good leadership, sound political understanding and established democratic procedures. But in addition, and of great importance, they must also have a programme of action for the destruction of the apartheid system and the transformation of South Africa into a united, democratic and non-racial country.
We spelt out the essence of this programme at the Conference for a Democratic Future. The Unifying Perspective, the Declaration and the Resolutions of this Conference point the correct way forward both in terms of the orientation of the struggle and the practical actions in which we should engage in a united offensive. What remains to be done is that in further discussions within our various organisations, among these formations and through the continuing structures of the CDF, we should decide what practically we should do and when.
As at the Conference, we must, in a programme of action, address such matters as the further intensification of the campaign of mass defiance against repression in all its forms and against the apartheid system. We must address the issue of the release of Nelson Mandela and all other political prisoners and detainees, saving the lives of the patriots on death row, the bans and restrictions imposed on organisations and individuals, children under apartheid, the mobilisation of the rural masses against the Land Act, for the land to belong to those who work it, the just demand to end conscription, the issue of people’s education and other questions that were tabled at the CDF.
Offensive for Democracy and Peace
At our Conference for a Democratic Future, that eminent leader of our people, Comrade Walter Sisulu, called on FW de Klerk to join the people in the struggle to end repression, to end apartheid, to plan for, bring about and build a democratic and non-racial South Africa. The focus of our offensive will be to achieve these objectives through action from below, through mass action, involving the millions of the democratic-minded South Africans. On this there can be no going back. The challenge remains on FW de Klerk’s table for him to act from above in pursuit of these same goals without whose realisation our country can never know peace, stability and development.
We also call on our white compatriots to join this mass offensive for democracy and peace. There are already many that have stood up in pursuit of these aims. They participated in the Conference for a Democratic Future as distinguished builders of a future common home of all the people of our country. Those who marched into New Brighton in Port Elizabeth to bridge the racial gulf created by the apartheid system and to make their commitment to work for a future of justice and friendship among all, are today the pride of millions of our people.
We urge the millions of our white compatriots to follow their example, to reach across, join hands with their black fellow-citizens and together, black and white, march forward to destroy the old and, together create the new social order.
Such actions, carried out in every town and city of our country, would make an enormous contribution to the speedy end of apartheid and the abolition of the racial antagonisms and mistrust which this system sought to nurture and perpetuate. Now is the time that all South Africans who love our country, in all their glorious shades of colour, join forces and act together to turn the land of their birth into a common patrimony of which we can all be proud.
Death Squad Terror
The recent revelations about the secret death squads set up by the police and the army, point to the gruesome threat that all our people face from these armed men and women, who have been trained to kill in defence of an unjust system. The closer we get to ending the system of apartheid, the more desperate, vicious and brutal these animals of racism will become. To deny us the peace that will come with the end of apartheid, they will declare war on the unarmed, to produce the peace of the grave.
Now is the time for those patriotic individuals who serve in the apartheid armed forces and police, to declare themselves on the side of the overwhelming majority of the people, to declare themselves in favour of a democratic and non-racial South Africa. Already some have chosen this path, among them serving soldiers and policemen and the brave young whites who have publicly refused conscription, risking and actually serving long terms of imprisonment.
Bear Arms in Defence of Freedom
We therefore reiterate our call to those who belong to these organs of repression, including those in the Bantustans, that if they must bear arms, it must be for the purpose of defending freedom and not perpetuating white minority domination. Their weapons must be pointed not at the people but at the enemy of the people, the apartheid system. In this regard, we salute the decision by Lt Rockman and others to establish an organisation of police and prison officers and trust it, too, will act in the interests of the people.
ANC – Born of the People The situation ahead of us imposes new responsibilities on our movement, the African National Congress. Born of the people almost eight decades ago, and charged by them with the task of leading them in their efforts to secure their emancipation, it has the challenging obligation to carry out this historic mission in the period ahead of us.
To achieve this, the ANC itself needs to be strong and well-organised, clear about both the tactical and the strategic demands of the struggle, and capable of leading the millions of our people to victory. We therefore call especially on all comrades inside the country to work hard to strengthen the underground structures of the movement, to expand them and ensure that they reach all corners of our country and all sectors of our people.
Build the Underground
As one of the four pillars on which our entire strategy rests, this task is of central and decisive importance. It must therefore be attended to with all the seriousness it deserves, in the interests of all the democratic forces of our country, for the victory of the democratic revolution.
We also take this opportunity to salute the heroic commanders and combatants of Umkhonto we Sizwe for the immeasurable contribution they have made to bring us to the stage where we can pose the prospect of the transfer of power to the people as a matter of practical politics. We lower our banners in memory of the revolutionary combatants of the people’s army who have laid down their lives during this past year and before. By their sacrifice, they have brought the goal of freedom within our reach.
Umkhonto we Sizwe – Our People’s Army
The conditions which obliged us to take up arms remain unchanged. The ANC remains an illegal organisation. Membership of the ANC is a treasonable offence. The State of Emergency continues and a whole series of repressive laws remain on the statute books. We have no constitutional means to change the government of the day. While the apartheid regime remains in power, even if the ANC were unbanned, there is no guarantee that this regime would not, once more, proscribe our movement.
These observations are important in the context of the undertaking we have made, as reflected in the Harare Declaration, that we are ready to enter into an agreement with the Pretoria regime for a mutual suspension of hostilities as soon as a climate conducive to negotiations is created. Given our history and the practical situation in our country, we cannot be expected to surrender our weapons until an agreement to end apartheid has been arrived at.
In this respect, we must make it clear that the Harare Declaration is not and was not to be a substitute for other forms of struggle, including our armed offensive. It is an additional weapon in our struggle to liquidate the apartheid system. It constitutes a vital and new intervention by the democratic forces of our country in the arena of political struggle for the democratic transformation of our country.
Armed Struggle Decisive
The armed struggle continues to be a critical and decisive component of our strategy. The commanders and cadres of the people’s army, Umkhonto we Sizwe, will therefore remain at their active posts, committed to the intensification of our armed offensive against the violent apartheid system, for a democratic and peaceful South Africa. The people’s army must therefore continue to grow and further develop its combat capacity inside the country, so that it becomes a formidable force capable of delivering telling blows against the apartheid regime on a continuous and nation-wide basis.
We Salute Swapo and the Namibian People
The sister people of Namibia, our neighbours, are well set on the road to independence. On this historic day in our struggle, we greet them and salute their liberation movement, SWAPO of Namibia. This wise and dignified people have demonstrated that through the democratic election of a Constituent Assembly, by keeping their country together as one united, unfragmented entity, by refusing to treat one another as competing ethnic and racial groups, it is possible to create a situation of peace and stability within a few months of the cessation of armed hostilities.
The victory that is within their grasp is of great importance for the democratic transformation of our own country as well. We reiterate our pledge that we will do everything in our power to contribute to this victory by resisting from our own soil any attempt by the Pretoria regime to block Namibia’s progress to proclamation of her independence, fully conscious that this impending victory will push further forward the frontiers of freedom and emphasise the urgent need to liquidate the apartheid system once and for all.
Frontline Sates – No Peace Until Apartheid Ends
We salute the sister peoples and governments of the Frontline and other countries of Southern Africa. Our region can never know peace until the apartheid system is ended. We are therefore aware of our responsibilities, not only to ourselves, but also to the peoples of our region, to abolish the apartheid system as quickly as possible. We assure them that that day is not far off. We take this opportunity once more to express our profound appreciation to them for standing firm in their support for our struggle, despite the campaign of terror that the Pretoria regime launched against them.
We are at one with the governments of the People’s Republics of Angola and Mozambique in their effort to secure peace for their peoples. The terrible carnage in both countries has to end. The Pretoria regime must accept full responsibility for its part in this situation of massive death and destabilisation and its attempt to impose its will on the peoples of these countries.
The recent disclosures about the Comoros confirm the threat posed by the Pretoria regime to independent Africa. This demands continued vigilance by the entire continent and the abandonment of any illusions that independent Africa can transform the apartheid regime into a friend and an ally. The task of the OAU and our continent continues to be the intensification of the offensive against the racist regime in South Africa until our people gain their freedom.
Impose Comprehensive Mandatory Sanctions
On this occasion of the 78th anniversary of our movement, we greet all our friends and allies throughout the world and convey to them our thanks for the work they have done to sustain the campaign for the total isolation of the apartheid regime. The apartheid system continues in place. It therefore still remains for the international community to use the most effective weapon in its hands, comprehensive and mandatory sanctions, to help bring about a speedy end to the apartheid crime against humanity.
In the coming period, our movement and other democratic forces of our country will require even more extensive political and material support from the world anti-apartheid forces. We are confident that this support will be given generously, to enable our people to realise what the whole world wishes to see – the transformation of our country into a non-racial democracy.
We also take this opportunity to express our appreciation to all states members of the United Nations for their unanimous adoption of the Declaration on South Africa at the 16th Special Session of the General Assembly. We are certain that this will make an important contribution to the speedy resolution of the apartheid question of which the United Nations has been seized almost since its foundation.
Victory is Certain!
We begin the last decade of the Second Millennium convinced that victory is certain. Democracy in South Africa must and will emerge triumphant. It is the urgent responsibility of all our people who value freedom, justice and peace to combine in their millions and use their irresistible strength finally to put an end to the apartheid system, transform South Africa into a united, democratic and non-racial country, enabling it to take its place among the nations of the world as a force for justice, peace and social progress. Consonant with these tasks and in the name of the entire leadership of our movement, we proclaim 1990 the Year of People’s Action for a Democratic South Africa.