Statement by Thabo Mbeki, representative of the ANC at the meeting of the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid on (Sharpeville Day) – 1979/03/21

The inhuman conditions to which the black people of South Africa are subjected have been well documented by this Committee. The importance of informing the world of the atrocities committed by the regime against our people cannot be over-emphasized.

It has always been our view that racism is an affront to the whole of mankind. This view is, I am glad to say, daily gaining world-wide support despite determined propaganda to the contrary by powerful interests that materially benefit from apartheid. For years we have called for the complete isolation of the racist regime in South Africa. Our position on this score remains unchanged.

The thuggish behaviour of the South African regime in the region confirms the correctness of our view on this matter. The United Nations does not need me to draw its attention to the crimes that are daily being perpetrated by the apartheid regime against the people of Angola and, through its support for the Smith regime, against the people of Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia.

Once more we wish to draw the attention of members to the flagrant violations by certain Western arms manufacturing countries of the United Nations mandatory arms embargo against South Africa. The facts of these violations are too well known to require repetition.

For our part, we maintain that the only way open to our people to bring down apartheid is through armed struggle. It is a well known fact of history that for 50 years the African National Congress has devoted its energies to trying to solve our problems without recourse to violence. For 50 years the racist regime has answered our peaceful efforts with a calculated brutality that rivals that of the Nazis.

On this very day 19 years ago the regime’s police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration, killing and maiming hundreds. Subsequently, to this day, the regime has gone further and excelled itself by gunning down school students in cold blood as well as stepping up its campaign of torture and murder of its political prisoners.

It is not for me to detail the progress of the armed struggle in mycountry. I think it is sufficient to point out that the apartheid regime has already declared the north-east of the Transvaal Province to be a military area. No doubt this move is intended to hide the regime’s acts of intimidation against our people.

The struggle is going to be fierce, and very bitter. For our part., we are in no doubt as to what the outcome is going to be.

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