Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s Opening Address to the London Solidarity Conference, London, UK, 24 October 2003


Members of the South African delegation,

Distinguished guests


Comrades and Friends

On behalf of the Government and people of South Africa it is a great privilege and honour for me to welcome you all here this evening at the opening of what we all expect to be a very productive conference.

It is indeed a great pleasure for many of us to be once again among so many friends and allies with whom we have struggled together in the long walk to African freedom.

This is a historic conference in that, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of our democratic transformation, we have gathered in London, together with our allies and supporters, to review developments in South Africa since 1994 and discuss how we can together meet the challenges for the period after 2004.

It is an important engagement because whilst we review the decade of freedom we need to consider how far we have overcome the destructive legacy of apartheid and pause to reflect and assess what the real challenges are in the next decade and how, in partnership we can respond to them so as to create a better South Africa, Africa and the world.

This is also an occasion for us to thank the people of Britain and Europe and indeed people all over the world, who, through various anti-apartheid and other support structures joined forces and developed into one of the most formidable and powerful solidarity movement of our time which was able to mobilise effectively to help advance the struggle for African liberation.

We also need to remember that this soldidarity movement was not limited to just supporting the South African liberation struggle but that of the peoples of the African continent.

It was in 1959 that the British people responded to the call of our leaders in South Africa and Africa for a boycott of apartheid South Africa by establishing the Boycott Movement. After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 it was renamed the Anti-Apartheid Movement in recognition of the fact that a concentrated campaign to boycott apartheid goods was not enough. What was required was a permanent organisation to take on the wider responsibility to help eradicate the apartheid system. Hence the Movement began to work for the freedom of all Southern African countries that were still under colonial and apartheid rule. Many of its campaigns in the sixties and later were focussed on supporting the struggles in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and South Africa.

We also need to recall that in Britain, as in other countries, there were also notable support organisations and prominent personalities who were active before this period – I recall the Movement for Colonial Freedom and Fenner Brockway as well as Canon Collins of Christian Action who raised funds in defence of political prisoners and especially for the 1956 Treason Trial and later the Rivonia Trial.

One of the fundamental principles of the solidarity movements was to support the struggle of the African people and not to determine how they should conduct that struggle. At the same time they worked under the guidance of those on the frontline of the struggle as well as the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations.

We also thank you for allowing Africans living in your countries to participate in your organisations.

You will understand if today, in thanking you for your long and steadfast support and solidarity we are not just doing it for South Africa but for Southern Africa and the continent. It was not just a struggle against colonialism and race rule but for justice, peace and the assertion of human dignity.

When we asked you to isolate the apartheid regime and boycott South African goods you did so – today Democratic South Africa asks you to buy from South Africa and Africa and open your markets to our products.

We asked you not to travel to apartheid South Africa – today we invite you to visit our country and experience personally the Free South Africa you have helped to create.

We asked you to withdraw investments from the apartheid system – today we ask you to increase your investments and trade and assist us to transform our economy.

We asked you to boycott apartheid sport – today we ask you to increase sports exchanges with non-racial sports bodies.

We asked you to urge pension and other funds to divest from apartheid – today we ask you to mobilise collectively to encourage them and others to invest in development projects in Africa and elsewhere to promote economic and social development.

Poverty is the single major threat to humanity. Today the world has the necessary resources to eliminate poverty and we need to work together to achieve that.

In the globalised world that we inhabit we have to work together to ensure that we create a just and equitable rules based system of governance.

Today is an auspicious day: 24 October is United Nations day and it is appropriate that we recall that because we also managed to achieve so much through the United Nations. Today the very role and authority of the UN is being questioned and it is our duty to reform it and make it responsive to the needs of humanity as a whole. In todays unipolar world we need to strengthen multilateralism and ensure that the United Nations is able to protect us all by ensuring collective security and peace.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa at 27-82-990-4853

Department of Foreign Affairs

P/Bag X152



24 October 2003


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