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Viewpoint by Cyril Ramaphosa

LET US COMPLETE THE MARCH TO FREEDOM BY CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

On Monday 7 September 2015 we gathered in Bhisho to commemorate one of the darkest moments in the turbulent period that preceded the achievement of democracy in South Africa.

Viewpoint by Malusi Gigaba

THE CALAIS SITUATION HIGHLIGHTS THE DISMAL FAILURE OF CURRENT EUROPEAN UNION MIGRATION POLICY APPROACHES BY MALUSI GIGABA

For some months now, the world has been watching helplessly as hundreds of African and Syrian migrants make desperate attempts daily to enter Europe either through the Mediterranean Sea or by crossing Euro-tunnel between France and Britain.

Viewpoint by Nathi Mthethwa

PROMOTING PEACE, INTEGRATION AND ENCOURAGING DIALOGUE AND RECONCILIATION BY NATHI MTHETHWA

On 30 January 1981, the South African racist regime violated international law by entering Mozambique without notice and without any provocation, and killed South African refugees and a Mozambique national.

GOOD STORY TO TELL

 

VIEWPOINT BY CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

Let us complete the march to freedom

Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa is the ANC Deputy President and Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa

On Monday 7 September 2015 we gathered in Bhisho to commemorate one of the darkest moments in the turbulent period that preceded the achievement of democracy in South Africa.

At that stage, in September 1992, we knew that freedom was inevitable. But we did not know how long it would take to achieve it - and at what cost. Just three months before, 45 people had been killed in Boipatong by agents of the apartheid regime and the ANC had withdrew from negotiations and was demanding that the National Party government end the covert war against our people and create the conditions for free political activity.

This demand was particularly important for the people of the then Ciskei, who were suffering at the hands of the repressive regime of Brigadier Oupa Gqozo whom would not allow any free political activity in Ciskei. He was an unpopular ruler, propped up by a corrupt system that was decaying and surrounded by shady security advisors. His security apparatus - which were nothing more than an extension of the apartheid regime's security apparatus - brutally suppressed any dissent.

The ANC demanded that FW De Klerk remove Gqozo from office and replace him with an interim administrator until the conclusion of constitutional negotiations. As more and more of our people were detained and beaten, the leadership of the ANC in the Border Region decided to have a campaign of mass action to allow us to operate freely in the Ciskei. This campaign included marches to Bhisho.

In August 1992, the ANC held a successful March to Bhisho attended by thousands of our people which was facilitated by the National Peace Accord. After that march we vowed to return to Bhisho and stay there until Brigadier Oupa Gqozo resigned. In our minds we were going to march to Bhisho and stage a sit-in at his very seat of power.

The build-up to the march on 7 September 1992 was tense and we were initialy denied permission to march. Our lawyers tried to get permission through the courts and the National Peace Accord frantically tried to negotiate with all parties to allow the march to go on. On the night before the march, permission was finally granted to march from King Williams Town to the Bhisho Stadium.

There were several prominent leaders taking part in the march, including Comrades Chris Hani, Ronnie Kasrils, Tokyo Sexwale and Steve Tshwete. I recall addressing the marchers that were gathering in the morning at King Williams Town Stadium. I said that we were marching peacefully to Bhisho to protest against the lack of free political activity and the harassment of the people of Ciskei. I said we were marching for basic rights enjoyed by all free people across the world.

As we proceeded towards Bhisho, a group of people came to report that they had returned from the border post where there were rolls of razor wire blocking the marchers entering into Bhisho. The razor wire had been placed in such a way that the marchers would be led into the stadium. It was also reported that there was a gap in the fence at the stadium through which people could have access into Bhisho.

While we were marching, we decided that a group led by Chris Hani and Ronnie Kasrils would lead marchers into the stadium and through the gap in the fence into Bhisho. I were to lead the rest of the marchers up the road to the razor wire, where we would negotiate for the march to proceed into Bhisho.

Just as we arrived at the razor wire, the shooting began. Then we heard explosions.

We all dropped to the ground. Then there was a short pause before a second volley of fire started. Several people in my immediate vicinity were shot. The shooting continued for a minute or two. When the shooting ended, 28 people were dead and many more were injured. We covered the bodies of the deceased and tried to get the injured to hospital.

We held a vigil at the border that night and remained at the scene of the massacre until President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu arrived the next morning. We were shocked and outraged. There had been no provocation by the marchers, who were all unarmed and controlled by marshals. The Ciskei security forces had made no attempt to warn the marchers before shooting, nor did they attempt to exercise any form of crowd control.

On Monday 7 September 2015 we remembered the 28 people that lost their lives and the many more who were injured. We paid tribute the people who wanted nothing more than the right to be free. We honoured their memories by reaffirming our commitment to achieve the kind of South Africa for which they fought. We gathered to once again extend our deepest sympathies to their families for the anguish, pain and deprivation that they have suffered.

When it is our time to leave this earth, what is that we will have to say to those who lost their lives on that day? We will tell them about the triumph of democracy. We would tell them about the day the guns fell silent. We would tell them that thanks to their struggles, and the struggles of millions of South Africans, Brigadier Oupa Gqozo and the bantustan of Ciskei were swept away at the stroke of a pen. We would tell them about our Constitution, which guarantees the right of all to freedom of expression, freedom of association and the right to peaceful protest.

We would tell them about the rural homes that now have electricity. About the millions of people who now have proper houses, with clean water and proper sanitation. About the new clinics that have been opened and the schools that have been built. We would tell them about a country that is united, democratic, vibrant and advancing towards a better future.

23 years after that fatal day, we know that the road is long and that we have much further to travel. We know that many of our people still live in poverty. Millions are unemployed. We know that many young people do not have the skills they need. We know that many people in rural areas still do not have access to land. Many in urban areas do not have houses or basic amenities.

As we remember those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom, we must pledge ourselves to continue their struggle. For they were marching not only for the right to organise and to speak and to protest. They were marching not only for the right to vote and be treated as equals before the law. They were marching to end poverty, to end inequality. They were marching for skills and work and economic opportunities.

They were marching for a radically different society that truly belonged to all South Africans, black and white. They sought a society in which a black child would be born with all the rights, opportunities and material security as any white child. They sought a society in which everyone would be free to pursue their dreams and realise their potential.

23 years later, we must ask ourselves whether we are on course to realise the society for which they sacrificed their lives. We must ask ourselves whether, when our time comes, we will be able to report honestly and faithfully that we have indeed done everything in our power to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

As we remember those who fell at this place on that dark, dark day in September 1992, let us commit ourselves to completing the march that they started.

Let us complete the march to freedom.

Viewpoint by Malusi Gigaba

VIEWPOINT: MALUSI GIGABA

Comrade Malusi Gigaba is a member of the ANC NEC and Minister of Home Affairs

 

The Calais situation highlights the dismal failure of current European Union Migration Policy approaches

For some months now, the world has been watching helplessly as hundreds of African and Syrian migrants make desperate attempts daily to enter Europe either through the Mediterranean Sea or by crossing Euro-tunnel between France and Britain.

The response by European governments has been ad-hoc, arbitrary and panic-stricken, with the British Prime Minister referring to the migrants as "swarms". This response, as expected, drew all-round condemnation, described in the editorial of the Financial Times (01-02 August 2015) as "the shallowest gesture in politics…"

These situations have called into the question the EU migration policy and have exposed the deficiencies of their current policy.

For so long as the Mediterranean crisis has existed, the EU has been, at best, lame-duck in responding to it and, at worst, blatantly racist and xenophobic. They have dismally failed to develop a long-term, sustainable and durable response to it, preferring instead to let the African migrants drown in the ocean rather than let them set their feet on European land.

In this regard, five firm points can be made: that is,

  1. The Calais crisis is of the EU's own making, whether one considers the Syrian crisis or Libya, with the killing of Gadaffi and the creation of a clearly failing state (in Libya) where once there was a stable;
  2. The EU's migration policy is an unmitigated disaster and there is an urgent need for a sustainable and comprehensive policy seeking to provide assistance to sending countries and regions so that they stabilise, democratise and develop;
  3. The EU needs to respond to these crises as a region, rather than individual countries often inspired by right-wing xenophobia or antipathy towards African migrants;
  4. Migration policy is very much related to a country's or region's international relations policy. Your migration policy must be informed by your foreign policy, both of which, in the EU's case, are disastrous as they encourage disruption abroad and shutting down your borders at home; and
  5. It is very instructive that in the wake of all these crises the EU has not sought constructive dialogue with Africa, in particular, through the African Union, to find sustainable and durable solutions.

The Financial Times editorial earlier made a scathing remark that the EU lacks vision, saying that:

"The sharing of migrants across member states, the processing of asylum claims, the creation of legal routes into Europe - there should be a pan-European co-ordination of this. Instead, there is a dog's breakfast of national policies, some more enlightened than others. Europe needs a sense of perspective, … The continent should also lift its sights and take the long view. Governments invest too much hope in technical fixes: a security measure here, a raid on people-traffickers there. The real problem is structural. As long as chaos reigns close to Europe, people will risk their lives to come here. The solution to the migrant problem lies at the source."

Furthermore, it observed that:

"But a giant trade bloc with so much diplomatic expertise to call upon has no excuse to be passive… It has a direct interest in the security of North African ports and the economic prospects of the region, but it is a rare European leader who even talks about these challenges."

The problem with Europe is that they are often the source of the problems that spawn irregular migration in particular and hence they cannot absolve themselves of these problems they have actively created.

It is worth noting that with this increased attention to Europe's migration crisis, much neglected is the even more dangerous over-land migration throughout Africa which has resulted in thousands of people perishing as they try to cross the Sahara desert or thousands being trafficked from the horn of Africa, through East Africa into South Africa or elsewhere. Perhaps, it is because the former affect directly the big powers of Europe, but South Africa on her own, for example, has as much the same number of irregular migrants as the EU the bloc. But we do not call our situation a crisis.

In his article, "South Africa, the Global Immigration Crisis and the Challenge of African Solidarity", Ademola Araoye wrote:

"In Africa, South Africa has been singularly hit by this worldwide phenomenon. This was inevitably a near and popular destination for the poor and wearied of Africa and Asia. barely two decades into its majority rule, in the context of its internal challenges and struggle as with most states hit by this global challenge, South Africa has paid the price of slugging messaging and faced the familiar hypocrisy of a world that has traditionally designed one measure for Africa and another for itself. But it is Africa that has been caught in the beams of the hypocritical international searchlight." (The Thinker)

In our own case, in terms of our evolving philosophy of migration management, we have acknowledged that in order the better to manage this phenomenon, we need a "whole of government" and a "whole-of-society" approach. We can only succeed if we forge strategic partnerships across all of government, between government and society, including the migrants themselves, as well as across our region as no government can successfully manage migration on its own. We need a pan-African approach to manage migration so that we can harness its positive forces in our interests.

In this regard, we need to take a long view and be interested both in the security as well as economic development of all African countries. So long as South Africa is viewed as the only political and economic beacon on the continent, so long shall migrants keep seeking to come here both through regular and irregular means.

This is further compounded by the mere fact that we are still managing colonial borders that split families and tribal communities apart across different national borders. We must, consequently, continue pursuing and actively supporting the political and economic stabilisation and development of all our SADC and African neighbours. We must support regulated and gradual easing of movement in the region until we can achieve full free movement. As a regional and continental power, South Africa must lead in this regard.

Viewpoint by Nathi Mthethwa

VIEWPOINT: NATHI MTHETHWA

Comrade Nathi Mthethwa is an ANC NEC member and Minister of Arts and Culture

 

Promoting peace, integration and encouraging dialogue and reconciliation

On 30 January 1981, the South African racist regime violated international law by entering Mozambique without notice and without any provocation, and killed South African refugees and a Mozambique national.

The attack in Matola was not an isolated act but was evidence of the increasingly violent and inhumane nature of the racist apartheid regime. For the world it was another shocking reminder of the horrors of the apartheid regime. The United Nations Resolution of 1972 had declared that apartheid constitutes a total "negation of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and is a crime against humanity."

The context of Matola raid was that the apartheid regime was shaken by the fact that the liberation waves were advancing even after two decades of banning of the liberation Movement. In response to the raid, Presidents Samora Machel of Mozambique and OR Tambo of the ANC said the following:

Let them come! (Que venham!)
"They want to come here and commit murder. So we say: Let them come! Let the racists come... Let them come! Let us liquidate war once and for all. Then there would be true peace in the region. Not the false peace we are now experiencing. Let the South Africans come, but let them be clear that the war will end in Pretoria. The war will end in Pretoria, for the majority will take power in Pretoria." (President Samora Machel )

Let us reply! (Vamos Responder!)
"The experience of our people in South Africa, the experience of the people of Zimbabwe, the experience of the people of Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, Guinea Bissau, Polisario, PLO - all show that the struggle for liberation, a just struggle, feeds on the blood of its fallen martyrs and grows stronger and stronger. In the end it overwhelms the enemy and bring him down in the heap of ruins... The enemy is attacking - let us reply!" (President OR Tambo)

The Matola raid also happened at the time when the flags of liberation were being hoisted in the Southern African region - in 1974 in Mozambique, 1975 in Angola and 1980 in Zimbabwe. The first two events in Mozambique and Angola inspired the South African youth of 1976 to believe that their liberation was also around the corner. The youth had also been inspired by the then recently released leaders like Harry Gwala, Joe Gqabi and the now serving President Jacob Zuma. These leaders worked underground within the youth and guiding them in their efforts.

Sensing defeat, the apartheid machinery dubbed the popular resistance as total onslaught, hence the total strategy which was a military solution to a political problem. The raid made a mockery of the sovereignty of the Republic of Mozambique. Meanwhile in South Africa thousands who fought for freedom were either killed, detained, banned or forced into exile.

The world was awakened to the fact that as long as apartheid existed, life, peace and stability would be under constant threat, as was to be further proven by the raids, assassinations and other brutalities in Zambia, Lesotho, Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the world.The act was described as "barbarism personified and incomparable, and a violation of the United Nations charter".

If the raid was justified, as apartheid apologists and ideologues would want us to believe, why then was it carried out under the umbrella of king of darkness? Those who come at night or dawn intend to commit dastardly, cowardly and barbaric acts.

Events like these exposed and demonstrated to the world the true nature of the racist apartheid regime.

All the Frontline States were prone to attacks from the apartheid regime resulting in many deaths, injuries and destruction and wide-scale destabilisation of their economies and their very fabric of life. But what drove them to defend us and fight for our freedom and not simply their own was an understanding that we are one people united in a common cause for freedom.

President Tambo articulated the situation of our region in 1981, in the following manner:

"This is the daily experience of Namibia; and Angola is in a permanent state of war. But the Botha regime is not acting in isolation. Its criminal role in Africa is an expression of the determination of international imperialism, led by the United States, to defeat the forces of progress and impose its will on the people. In pursuit of these goals, the Reagan Administration has entered into strategic alliance with the most reactionary regimes in the world. These include the apartheid regime in South Africa, the Zionist regime of Israel and the genocidal junta in El Salvador.

"United by their absolute contempt for human life and driven by the desire to ensure imperialist domination everywhere, these forces of reaction exclude no means or methods in the pursuit of their goals. Above all, brute force constitutes the centrepiece of their strategy. That is why today the Reagan government is busy reducing expenditures on social security while vastly increasing its military budget..".

Despite the challenges and veil threats thrown at them, the Mozambican people, the frontline states and broader progressive humanity did not once kick us out of their countries. For this act of solidarity and humanity we salute the heroic people of Mozambique and the entire progressive humanity. During the course of the week, President of the Republic of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma together with his counterpart from Mozambique, President Felipe Nyusi opened The Matola Memorial Monument and Interpretative Centre which serve as a permanent reminder for future generations to never forget the sacrifices that were made to achieve a free South Africa.

The monument is a commitment to the everlasting friendship between the two countries and its peoples; a commitment to ensure that racist discrimination and oppression do not raise their ugly head in these two countries and, not least, in the world. We are proud to honour the martyrs of the Matola Raid.

The monument that the Presidents unveiled should be a place of pilgrimage and dialogue and should stand as testimony of our common triumph over oppression as we together, Mozambique and South Africa, hand in hand, say to the world that "We are Africa".

The Matola Monument will contribute to the promotion of peace and integration on the African continent by encouraging dialogue and reconciliation. It must remind future generations not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to work towards living in peace and harmony with their neighbours, and striving for a better Africa and a better world.

The unveiling of the monument took place during the heritage month in our country. Matola is our heritage, a critical pillar in the liberation of the people of South Africa and Mozambique. Last month, August 2015, the South African government adopted policy on Liberation Heritage Route, Matola is part of that route.

Matola Raid is an integral part of our story. The story of revolutionary militants. It must be told all the time. From the ashes of Matola Raid we affirm the fundamental principles of South African Constitution which enjoins us to:

"Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and
Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity".

The unveiling of the Matola Raid monument by the two Presidents of the people's of South Africa and Mozambique is humane act in honouring those who fought for justice and freedom in our land. We cannot speak about the story of humanity's fight for freedom without mentioning Matola.

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