Stop the War
4 February 2003
Statements by Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon on the ANC`s opposition to a threatened war on Iraq are ill-informed or are deliberately intended to mislead.
The position of the South African government on the need for a peaceful resolution to the Iraq crisis is well known, and has been openly stated. This position is informed by South Africa`s national interest, the interest of African development and the interests of global stability and security.
Government`s position has formed the basis on which President Thabo Mbeki and other government representatives have been engaging with their counterparts across the globe, including in forums like the United Nations.
In addition to the position taken by government, a number of civil society groups from across a broad spectrum of sectors have initiated a campaign to mobilise South Africans in opposition to the war. The ANC is proud to count itself among these groups.
Contrary to the claims of Mr Leon, opposition to an unjust, unneccessary and potentially-devastating war is not the same as anti-Americanism. It neither threatens the security of US citizens in South Africa, nor threatens the interests of any US investments in this country.
South Africa has a strong and robust relationship with the United States, founded on mutual respect and honesty. Neither the ANC, nor the government, have shied away from expressing our views openly and plainly even when these differ with the views of the US authorities. Our honesty as a country, and our willingness to speak plainly about what we believe, should not damage our relations with the US or any other country.
Mr Leon is calling for South Africa to become a mercenary nation. He is calling for President Mbeki and the ANC to hold its tongue in the face of grave international danger because money has been promised to our continent. Our silence cannot be bought.
Nor will we allow ourselves to be bullied into taking fundamentally incorrect positions on the basis of hysterical and groundless threats.
As the ANC we are therefore calling on all freedom-loving South Africans to join millions of people around the world in mass action for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Iraq. These actions will be taking place in Johannesburg and Cape Town on 15 February, which is the international day of action against the war, and on 19 February in Pretoria. Other actions are expected to take place in other centres across the country.
Contact: Smuts Ngonyama
082 569 2061