Your Excellency, President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Vice-Chairman of Chama Cha Mapinduzi and Current Chairman of PTA Authority,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Honourable Ministers, Heads of Delegations,
Your Excellency, Honourable Ide Oumarou, Secretary General of the OAU,
Your Excellencies, members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Comrades and friends,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me to address the closing session of the seventh Summit of Heads of State and Government of the PTA Authority on behalf of the liberation movements and in the name of the fighting masses of Namibia and South Africa.
We wish firstly to convey to His Excellency Ali Hassan Mwinyi, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Vice-Chairman of Chama Cha Mapinduzi, to the Government, the Party and the fraternal people of Tanzania, our heartfelt appreciation of the characteristically warm welcome and hospitality accorded our respective delegations, as well as our gratitude for the excellent arrangements provided for our stay and our work.
The city of Arusha, surrounded by nature's beauty, is world famous as a venue for some of the most important national and international declarations in the history of the African struggle. In this connection, allow me Comrade Chairman, to recall that one year ago to the day (from 1 to 4 December), Tanzania's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Ndugu Salim Ahmed Salim, presided over a momentous and unforgettable international meeting, held in this very hall, in support of the struggle for the overthrow of the apartheid system, which was opened by Tanzania's illustrious son and world statesman, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Chairman of Chama Cha Mapinduzi, and backed by the masses of the people of Arusha in their thousands.
Today, Comrade President, we are happy to join in congratulating you on your unanimous election as current Chairman of the PTA Authority. Tanzania - a lodestar for the total liberation of our continent - has always been at the heart of initiatives and collective efforts directed at consolidating and expanding united action and cooperation in every field of subregional, regional and continental endeavour. We are confident that under your capable guidance, this body will continue to register successes and in the process, lay a foundation for what in after years may become the PTA Authority for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa.
We pay tribute to His Excellency Comrade President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda and Chairman of the National Resistance Movement. His year in office as Chairman of the PTA has been marked by dynamic, action-oriented leadership which has ensured the stimulating annual report submitted to this Summit. We know that his interest in the work of this body will grow rather than decline, and that the rejuvenated Uganda which he leads will play an increasingly significant role, not only in the PTA, but also in the struggle for the liberation of Namibia and South Africa which, as he declared in his keynote address to this august assembly, is an indispensable precondition for the achievement of the goals of the PTA.
We take this opportunity also to record our thanks to the Secretary General of the PTA, Mr. Bax Nomvete, for his tireless services to the Authority - Good health to him, more strength to his elbow and long may he continue to serve.
Our meeting is taking place against the background of a world economic situation that is extremely difficult for the developing countries. Today, as we have heard from the various contributions, Africa's attention is increasingly being focussed on the need to solve the serious economic crisis presently facing the continent. Although our energies in the liberation movement are concentrated on escalating the liberation struggle, the problems afflicting the economies of the independent countries of the region are, indeed, not unconnected to our principal concern. The struggle for an integrated and all-round economic development and the struggle to eradicate the last bastion of colonialism are deeply interwoven.
We also share the belief that a speedy economic cooperation and integration among the countries of Eastern and Southern Africa in the sectors of trade and agriculture, industry and transport, communications and energy will enable them to achieve self-sustaining economic development. Their collective self-reliance in all these sectors will not only make it possible for them to participate in international economic life as equal partners with other countries of the world, but will also constitute a vital contribution to the economic strength of the continent. We are proud to observe in the deliberations of the seventh Summit that the PTA Authority has recorded progress towards the realisation of its objectives.
It is common cause, however, that peace and stability, and a climate that is really conducive to all-round development in our subregion, will remain difficult of attainment without the victory of the liberation struggle in Namibia and South Africa. The apartheid regime remains wedded to a policy of deliberate destabilisation of the Frontline States. It seeks to prevent the economic independence of the countries of the subregion, hoping to keep them in perpetual dependency. In seeking to fulfil its objectives, the PTA Authority is, therefore, actively pitted against apartheid's imperialist aspirations.
Freed from the shackles of apartheid, the South African economy has the potential and the capacity to reinforce and help sustain the all-round development of the entire Southern and Central African region, to the benefit of the PTA and all of Africa.
But today the apartheid economy faces a fundamental impasse, among the most important symptoms of which are a continued negative growth rate and negative rates of investment in new capital. The political and economic crises of apartheid are at once distinct and deeply interrelated. On all accounts, it is clear that even from a strictly economic, let alone a moral or political, perspective, apartheid must be destroyed. It is a scourge on our region, on our continent, and indeed on humanity at large.
In this regard may we emphasise that although sanctions against apartheid South Africa are as yet limited in their scope, they are nonetheless having the intended effect on the South African economy. Spokesmen for the regime, apart from independent observers, are now repeatedly conceding this reality. Indeed the regime is gravely concerned over the prospect of more sanctions being imposed. It is against this background that we wish to commend their Excellencies, the Heads of State and Government of the PTA, for the decision taken at the Second PTA Extraordinary Summit in Addis Ababa to adopt economic measures for strengthening economic sanctions against the Pretoria regime. As we have stated in the past, economic sanctions serve to complement, but are not substitute for, our own struggle and sacrifices as liberation movements to liberate our countries. They have the capacity to bring our victory nearer.
The imposition of sanctions has contributed to making Pretoria's regional military adventures more difficult to sustain. We should not underestimate Pretoria's growing international isolation as a factor in compelling it to retreat from Angola and sit down at the negotiating table to discuss Namibian independence.
But, of course, these developments are even more immediately related to the historic defeat of the apartheid war machine in southern Angola. Pretoria's attempt to inflict a decisive defeat on the Angolan government forces at Cuito Cuanavale ended in the humiliation of the SADF, its ignominious retreat from Angola, and the collapse of the Botha-Malan dreams in that area. Indeed, the defence of Cuito Cuanavale will go down as an historic turning point in southern Africa and quite conceivably as Pretoria's Waterloo. We pay tribute to the heroism, fighting skills and determination of the joint Angolan, Cuban and SWAPO forces that have driven the racist aggressors from the soil of the People's Republic of Angola, changing the face of southern Africa.
The trouncing of the SADF in southern Angola forced Pretoria to the negotiating table and brought tremendous international pressure to bear for the implementation of UN Resolution 435, paving the way for the independence of Namibia. In this connection, we cannot but welcome the fact that agreements are currently being signed in Brazzaville. But there is still some distance to go before we can witness the declaration of Namibia's independence under a SWAPO government. Every step of the process needs to be closely and carefully monitored, with the maximum vigilance on the part of the African states and progressive forces, giving the fullest possible support to our SWAPO brothers and sisters. Where the Pretoria regime is involved, we dare not lower our guard.
No less an impact on this developing situation has been made by the struggling masses of Namibia and South Africa who throughout 1988, have given Botha no breathing space. In Namibia, 1988 has seen an unprecedented upsurge of mass struggle spearheaded by students and workers under the leadership of SWAPO. Showing tremendous courage, the Namibian people, including schoolchildren, demanded the removal of South African army bases from their country. The rapid growth of trade union and student organisation in Namibia is vital in the new phase of struggle and will help SWAPO lay the foundations of a future democratic and liberated country. Together with the heroic combatants of PLAN and SWAPO activists they will form the bulwark against racist manoeuvres to subvert the legitimate transfer of power to the people.
Within South Africa, the racists in their latest attempts to legitimise apartheid administrative structures, held nationwide local elections on October 26. Despite three years of martial law, the detention of tens of thousands of activists, the banning of the major mass democratic organisations, and despite a prior votes system that allowed voting to occur up to two weeks before the actual election day, the black masses of South Africa, in their millions, responded to the call for a mass boycott of these ghetto elections.
On election day itself less than 2 percent of those blacks eligible by age to vote, and 3.35 percent of those put on the voting register by the regime, went to the polls. Even if we believe the racist regime's claims for prior votes, the total of those eligible by age to vote was under 9 percent. As one example of the sham these elections was, in Soweto 25,000 votes were recorded in a city of two million inhabitants. Countrywide, in nearly half of the black wards there was no voting at all because there were no candidates, or only one could be found.
The overwhelming majority of our people understand perfectly well that the apartheid regime has not changed its heart, that the apartheid system must be resisted and destroyed. We must take our lead from this fundamental point of departure. Just as the racists seek to present their retreat from Angola as an act of peace, so in regard to the release of political prisoners it attempts to make a virtue out of a forced necessity. Facing mounting international and domestic pressure to release Nelson Mandela and all political prisoners, the apartheid regime is manoeuvring desperately. It has presented the recent release of Harry Gwala of the ANC and Zeph Mothopeng, President of the PAC, as a humanitarian act. This is nothing more than rank and disgusting opportunism. Harry Gwala and Zeph Mothopeng are both advanced in age and have been seriously ill for many years. No belated release can cover up the inhumanity of their incarceration. Nevertheless, it is with immense joy that we greet and salute these great stalwarts as they emerge from the dark dungeons of apartheid South Africa, to be reunited with their families, their friends, and above all with the fighting masses. In regard to the release of Nelson Mandela, we should not allow the regime's hints about conditional release to confine us to the sidelines as expectant spectators. We need to maintain our worldwide offensive, increase the pressure with the clear and unequivocal demand: Nelson Mandela and all political prisoners must be freed unconditionally and without delay.
The apartheid regime, our common enemy, is not in the process of changing into a force for peace and reform. It continues to hang scores of patriots. It continues to maintain its state of emergency. It continues to detain, torture and murder children in both South Africa and Namibia. But equally its political and economic crisis deepens as the armed struggle intensifies. In the year ahead, the liberation forces and the people of South Africa and Namibia will press forward with their all-round offensive against apartheid colonialism. In this task we are greatly strengthened by the boundless solidarity of the peoples of East and Southern Africa, and in particular, by the PTA Authority, as well as the Organisation of African Unity, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the international community.
We pledge to pursue the struggle with growing vigour until total liberation is achieved.
Long Live the PTA!
Long Live the OAU!