Honourable Ministers and Members of Parliament,

Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguished Guests,

Representatives of the National Liberation Movements,

Ladies and Gentleman, Comrades and Friends,

The African National Congress is one of those forces in the world which are involved today in the noble fight to ensure a better, greater and happier tomorrow for humankind, against powers determined to perpetuate the miseries and sufferings of yesterday. It is a struggle by the weak to seize power from the powerful. By necessary definition, therefore, we stand in constant need of ever-increasing support, assistance and encouragement.

India`s Support

Two examples suffice to demonstrate the crescendo of India`s support for the cause of the people of South Africa led by the African National Congress: The one example was when, in 1980, an invitation was extended to Nelson Mandela to come to India to receive the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding.

Jawaharlal Nehru is the embodiment, the expression and the symbol of a people that has risen from the miseries of colonial bondage and is marching in massive unity to the conquest of a great future.

Nelson Mandela, fighting from behind prison bars, has become the embodiment, the expression and the symbol of a people held in bondage by the most notorious regime in the world but resolute and unbending in their determination to break the bonds of enslavement and usher in a new era of freedom, peace and progress in South Africa and in the African subcontinent, and thus contribute towards the promotion of international understanding among peoples and nations. The linkage of Mandela to Nehru served to bind the Indian and South African peoples together in struggle and lent power and strength to the latter.

Nelson Mandela could not come to India to receive the Award. I came in his stead, and I found it impossible to imagine what more the Government and people of India could have done by way of support for our cause and for our struggle. And that support has contributed to the present favourable balance of forces within South Africa. For, the ANC is more powerful today than it was in 1980: our struggle has advanced towards its objectives, and our people, sensing victory, evince a heightened level of morale in their fight.

India`s Role Commended

Late last year, the Government of India invited the ANC to visit this country. This has turned out to be the occasion for an even greater contribution to our struggle. It all started with the arrival of the ANC delegation at the airport, where, having been received by Mr. J.R. Hiremath, Additional Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry, and after being welcomed by members of the African diplomatic corps, the delegation drove from the airport in a State car bearing two flags: the national flag of the Republic of India and the national flag of the people of South Africa led by the African National Congress.

This is not merely a demonstration of support. It is much more; it is an act of support - and of assistance.

As such it meets one of the most urgent needs of the situation in South Africa, Namibia, Angola and of southern Africa. The greater need today is the need to act in support of the people and against the common enemy represented by the Pretoria regime and its chief ally, the Reagan administration. It is no longer sufficient to complain or condemn.

By this act the Government and people of India - a nation of 700 million, are creating for the ANC and the majority of the people of South Africa a place among the independent and sovereign nations of the world. By that act, India is increasing the isolation of the Pretoria regime and reinforcing the growing belief in international circles that it is now only a matter of time before apartheid gives way to the emergence of a nonracial and democratic South Africa as envisaged in the Freedom Charter of the South African people.

Within South Africa and in the conduct of the Pretoria regime in relation to the countries of southern Africa, there is abundant evidence that this regime`s ability to rule in the old way is diminishing rapidly. It has become more violent than at any time in the past three decades of apartheid brutality. That violence has reached beyond South African borders and finds expression in death and destruction in African independent States as far afield as the Seychelles. What has now emerged as the main content of the beleaguered racist regime`s international and external relations is a policy of bullying, blackmail and bribery on an incredible scale.

Thus, on the one hand it is offering constitutional bribes and enticements to the "Coloured" and Indian communities to come to its aid in the face of the rising tides of revolution from the oppressed and exploited majority in South Africa, coupled with the growing pressures from the international community. On the other hand, the opponents of white minority rule within South Africa are being subjected to increasing persecution whilst those in the neighbouring countries have become targets of assassinations and massacres.

In these countries, the Pretoria regime invades and raids at will; it occupies the territory of the People`s Republic of Angola: it maintains, equips and supplies bandit groups whose task is to kill and maim women and children, create conditions of general insecurity and sabotage the economy. The regime demands, as a condition for terminating this terrorism that the country should surrender its independence and sovereignty to the Pretoria regime and become the latter`s ally and fight against the forces of national liberation and independence.

It would be dangerous to dismiss as being of no consequence the serious implications of this counteroffensive by the racist minority regime, and its Washington ally.

ES Reddy