Members of the National Resistance Movement Central Executive Committee,
Members of the Ugandan National Parliament,
Ambassadors, members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Educators and Students,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good day to you all.
Today is a significant day in our post-apartheid history, as we have finally been able to visit this former Mkhonto Wesizwe (MK) campsite. We are reconnecting with an episode in our history, when we had to undertake extreme measures to free ourselves from racist oppression.
We place on record the sincere gratitude of the African National Congress to the National Resistance Movement for making the visit possible.
On this occasion we salute, especially our brother and leader, His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. It is through his foresight that he allowed the ANC to open military camps in this country during the struggle against apartheid.
We appreciate the warm and very cordial relations between our two ruling parties and governments, which naturally arise out of solidarity forged during the struggle.
That this former ANC camp has been converted into the Oliver Tambo Institute of Leadership bears testimony to the fact that South Africa and Uganda have bonds of friendship and history, which cannot be broken.
The transformation of the campsite into a leadership school will make the ideals for which we took up arms live forever. It was astute leadership on the part of the ANC leadership of the time, which took the difficult decision that the ANC should take up arms to defend and liberate the oppressed from an intransigent racist regime.
The naming of the school after President Tambo reflects the deep-seated understanding of the role of the late ANC President. He fought for peace, justice, democracy and tolerance. May this school live up to these principles.
Kaweweta was one of the most important camps of the ANC, particularly in the closing stages of our revolution, as most of our cadres who were trained in the last years of our struggle were trained in Uganda in regular army methods and techniques.
This was a very critical matter as we were preparing the ANC soldiers to take their rightful places in the formation of a new army that was to serve the new democratic state, as most of our soldiers had been initially trained in guerrilla warfare. We are therefore very grateful to the NRM and the Ugandan government for having assisted us in that aspect.
The conversion into a leadership school plays an important role in developing and defining the role of soldiers in a democratic dispensation.
As liberation movements in the past we were always conscious of the changing role of soldiers. We understood that the cadres that we trained to liberate our countries would one day play a meaningful role in an integrated regular to defend the very same revolution that they had been fighting for.
The role of the army in a democratic dispensation had to change to ensure that once the country had adopted a Constitution, the army, police and other security establishments had to play a constructive role as protectors of the Constitution.
The role of the army of a democratic state is that of defending its people against foreign threats and of defending the institutions created by a democratic dispensation. The soldier`s motto is to serve and to protect. That is the fundamental role of the army in a democratic dispensation.
It is exactly what we did, when we assumed the levers of power in our country, we ensured that our army became a professional army which had a responsibility of protecting the country`s supreme law - the Constitution - and the citizens of the country.
I know, that this is a perspective we generally share with most former liberation movements. It is a perspective, which says that the role of the army must be found in its neutrality, the army does not interfere in the affairs of the state. It leaves the affairs of the state to those who are duly elected to democratically to resolve without taking any sides.
In essence an army should be the pride of the nation and should be accepted by all people.
What informed this view was the fact that as a liberation movement in Africa, we saw many instances of national armies becoming instruments of dictators, and instruments of trampling on the rights of people and trampling on the idea of a democratic state.
We are convinced that we should not go back to that period when armies and soldiers played an active role in politics and thus threatened the stability not only of their countries but also the stability of the whole continent.
I am emphasising this point because students at this institute have a role to play in defending democracy and the gains of the Ugandan revolution. This Institute will help new recruits of this country to learn how to become good soldiers.
When we think of this Institute, we will always remember that our relationship is cemented through the blood of our people who fell on the soil of Uganda. The remains of these combatants who fell far away from home are a constant reminder that South Africa was an oppressed country and the people of Uganda played an important role in the struggle for their emancipation.
Ours is a relationship based on mutual respect of our leaders and members who fought against the ills of colonialism, apartheid and dictatorship and triumphed against it. Those are the bonds of struggle that are hard to break.
Our ultimate goal as the ANC is to repatriate the remains of all our combatants who are buried in various parts of Africa. Many families contact the ANC regularly requesting that the remains of their loved ones be brought home, to enable closure. We are seriously considering the matter and it will be one of our biggest projects as the ANC.
We are determined to do it, regardless of how long it takes to take them all back home. We are informed by the view that these MK soldiers left home for what was to be a short-term mission. Their final resting place should be South Africa.
And when do repatriate the remains, the bonds between the countries in which they had been buried and South Africa will remain strong forever, as the solidarity can never be forgotten by future generations.
With regards to this Institute, if it teaches every soldier who passes here commitment to basic tenets of democracy, these principles it would have honoured the memory of President Oliver Tambo and the fallen MK combatants buried here in an outstanding manner.
Let me emphasise our eternal gratitude to the Ugandan government, the NRM and the people of Uganda for expressing their friendship and solidarity during a difficult period in our struggle.
We wish the students, staff and management of the Oliver Tambo Institute of Leadership well in all endeavours.
I thank you.