Address by the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, HE Jacob Zuma, at the 23rd Anniversary of the Matola Raid, Maputo, Mozambique 14 February 2004

The Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Mozambique,
Cde Pascoal Mocumbi,
The families of South Africans and Mozambicans who lost
their lives in the South African struggle for liberation,
The Governor of the Maputo Province,
Mayors of Maputo and Matola,
Members of the diplomatic corps,
Distinguished guests,
Comrades and Friends,

We are gathered here today, as one united people of Mozambique and South Africa, to commemorate a painful moment that will never be forgotten in the history of our two countries.

We are also gathered to recommit ourselves to ensuring that such an incident never happens again.

I must begin by thanking our Mozambican hosts, the South African High Commission in Maputo and the Freedom Park Trust, for making it possible for us to mark this important occasion.

It is significant that we commemorate the Matola Raid on the occasion of the celebration of South Africa's first decade of liberation and democracy, for which we are hugely indebted to the Mozambican people for their support and sacrifices.

Coincidentally, Mozambique is moving towards celebrating its third decade of freedom and the formation of the People's Republic of Mozambique in June 1975.

Such an occasion of celebrating our liberation demands that we take stock and remember those who laid down their lives and made it possible, through their supreme sacrifices, for us to be free.

In a brutal and callous act, on the 30 January 1981, a unit of the South African Defence Force, accompanied by enemy agents who had infiltrated the ANC as well as askaris, invaded Mozambique and attacked homes used by the ANC at Matola, and murdered 16 South Africans and one Portuguese national, who was killed when he drove into an SADF roadblock.

We also pay our respects to the families of the Mozambicans who died during two subsequent SADF raids, in Namahasha in November 1982, and an air raid on a jam factory in May 1983.

Addressing a Frelimo Rally in Maputo on 14 February 1982, commemorating the first anniversary of the Matola raid, the late ANC President, Cde Oliver Tambo, eloquently described the Matola invasion as a raid which insulted the sovereignty of the Mozambican people, defiled their national dignity, violated their territorial integrity and challenged the very concept of African independent statehood.

Amongst those who were ruthlessly murdered at Matola in 1981, were Mduduzi Guma, Lancelot Hadebe, Mandla Daka, Daniel Molokisi, Steven Ngcobo, Vusumzi Ngwema, Thabang Bookolane, Krishna Rabilal, Themba Dimba, William Khanyile, Motso "Obadi" Mokgabudi, Collin Khumalo, Levinson Mankankaza, Albert Mahutso and others. We also remember the brave people's soldier, Vuyani Mavuso, who was kidnapped during the raid, and was later executed when he refused to co-operate with apartheid security agencies to betray his comrades.

Comrades and Friends, we must also spare a thought for the SADF soldiers who were killed or injured during the Matola raid, having crossed the border to attack their exiled fellow South Africans. A body was found after the attack and there were strong indications that some had fled with injuries or that there could have been other casualties.

We must acknowledge that they were victims of an evil system that had brainwashed them into believing that the ANC had to be eliminated at all costs.

We must also salute the memory of other patriots who were murdered in other incidents in Mozambique such as Ruth First who died in a parcel bomb attack in 1982, Philemon Mahlako in November 1979, Enoch Reginald Mhlongo in July 1989 and Themba Ngesi and Samuel Phinda who were poisoned.

There are also those who were seriously injured, such as Judge Albie Sachs who survived a bomb attack when his car exploded in Maputo, near the corner of Eduardo Mondlane and Julius Nyerere Avenues.

As we solemnly pay tribute to our heroes and heroines, we also recall Cde President Tambo's directive at the first commemorative event in 1982, that February 14th should be observed as the Day of Friendship between the Peoples of Mozambique and South Africa. We are fulfilling his wish as we meet here today.

It is in this spirit that we must emphasise the sacrifices of the Mozambican people and the price they paid for our freedom. A vicious war was waged against the Mozambican people after independence, by Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, fought on many fronts, including military and economic.

The 1981 Matola raid falls within that context, having been part of a systematic programme by South Africa, aimed at undermining Mozambique as a country, but also to delay or stop our liberation struggle.

As part of this campaign, civilians in buses and trains and in the villages were indiscriminately massacred. Development projects were systematically sabotaged and destroyed, and much of the countryside was turned into a wasteland. The country faced the prospect of mass starvation.

All this happened because Mozambique stood firm in its resolve to support the liberation struggle of the people of Southern Africa, especially South Africa and Zimbabwe. Today we extend our deep and heartfelt gratitude to Mozambicans for that comradeship, commitment and sacrifices.

We also today honour that gallant fighter for freedom, Cde President Samora Machel, a man of outstanding revolutionary principles and a true liberator, who made an impact not only in Mozambique but in the entire Southern African region. His leadership of the revolution in this country inspired the oppressed masses of South Africa and shortened the distance towards our freedom.

The masses in South Africa heard him loud and clear as he repeatedly shouted "Aluta Continua!" a cry that reverberated throughout Southern Africa and instilled fear in all enemies of peace, freedom and justice.

The truth regarding the death of this great leader on South African soil is yet to be uncovered. At the aircrash in Mbuzini, in what is now Mpumalanga Province, Mozambique sacrificed its Head of State, members of Cabinet and many senior officials for the liberation of South Africa.

As Cde President Machel paid the ultimate price for seeking the liberation of his brothers and sisters in Southern Africa, especially South Africa and Zimbabwe. There are no words in the human language, which can accurately express our gratitude to the Mozambican government, Mozambican people and Frelimo for such a sacrifice. We can only say Kanimambo, Obrigado.

We must also use this opportunity to pay homage to Moses Mabhida, that revolutionary hero of our struggle who had served at one point as a leader of our trade union movement SACTU, as national commissar of our army, and later, by the time he passed on, as the general secretary of the South African Communist Party.

He was laid to rest in Maputo in March 1986, and at his funeral, both Cde President Machel and Cde President Tambo agreed that the final resting place for Cde Mabhida would have to be in South Africa after freedom was attained. We have an obligation to fulfil that command.

To the families of the soldiers who fell here, may you find solace in the knowledge that the freedom that your loved ones believed in, and fought for, was ultimately achieved.

May your hearts be comforted by the fact that we shall forever remember their contribution, their selflessness and their dedication to the freedom of their country and their people.

The blood that was shed in Matola and other parts of Mozambique, and the blood of Cde President Machel and those who were travelling with him when the plane crashed at Mbuzini, did not flow in vain.

It is that blood that changed the political landscape completely, and brought the liberation of South Africa closer. It is that blood which has watered the tree of freedom, and created a democratic and stable South Africa that now lives in peace and harmony with its neighbours.

The pain and suffering that we shared created a unity that is everlasting, arising out of the resolve by the Mozambican people, that they would only be truly free, when South Africa was free.

As we commemorate the 23rd Anniversary of the Matola Raid,we must rededicate ourselves to confront the new challenges that face our two countries. The struggle cannot be over until we decisively address the challenges of underdevelopment, disease and poverty. As current and past chairpersons of the African Union, and as part of the AU Troika, we must continue to work together to ensure the realisation of the goals of a better Southern Africa, and better Africa, within the framework of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

Our joint participation in peacemaking and peacekeeping in the continent, within the auspices of the AU, is an example of the quest for lasting peace by our two countries, to ensure that the era of cross-border raids and regional aggression is gone forever.

In this regard, South Africa is proud of the fact that the new South African National Defence Force works for peace in the continent, as seen in our involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Burundi where our troops work side by side with their Mozambican counterparts and the Ethiopians.

As Cde President Machel and Cde President Tambo said in 1981 and 1982 respectively, we are one people. Cde President Machel put it pertinently in 1981 that the oppressed Mozambicans and South Africans were a united 35 million strong force, and that together they would defeat apartheid. Indeed, we did.

We are still one united force, as united today as we were in 1982 when Cde President Tambo said:- "We are one people today. This means we are recapturing our glorious past. We were one people. History put us together on this continent from time immemorial. We evolved together, shared a common African culture, traded with one another and dealt each with the other as human beings, whether in times of war or in times of peace, whether in circumstances of hunger or in conditions of plenty".

Let us continue working together, to ensure that the ideals and memory of Cde President Tambo, Cde President Machel, and indeed all those who sacrificed their lives for freedom in Matola and elsewhere, live forever.

Aluta Continua!

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