Source :The Presidency
Title: SA: Zuma: Address by the President of South Africa, at a gala dinner on the sidelines of the AU summit, Addis Ababa
Your Excellency, Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, and our host
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi;
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government;
Ladies and gentlemen;
The year 2012 is a very important one in South Africa and in Africa, as the oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress, has turned 100 years old.
We feel truly privileged to have lived to celebrate the centenary of the oldest liberation movement on the African continent.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all Heads of State and Government who took time from their busy schedules to come to our country from all corners of the continent and the globe, to celebrate the 100th Anniversary with us on the 8th of January, 2012.
We were honoured by your presence, and humbled and encouraged by your messages of support.
Your gestures of undying solidarity with South Africa indicates to us that the bonds of friendship and fraternity that South Africa and the ANC have built with sister countries and peoples in the continent over the years remain strong.
These relations have to be strong, because they were built on a firm foundation.
They were built on the trenches of the struggle against colonial oppression and apartheid.
A celebration of the ANC centenary would be incomplete indeed if it did not take place in Addis Ababa, at the headquarters of the African Union.
When we celebrate the ANC 100th Anniversary, we do so fully aware that the ANC is not just a South African liberation movement. It belongs to the continent, and many people in Africa share its perspective and its vision.
It is also important to note that delegates at the founding conference of the ANC in 1912 came from beyond South Africa.
They came from Botswana, eastern part of Zambia, Swaziland and Lesotho to name a few, with African unity as the primary theme.
The fact that this celebration is taking place on the sidelines of an African Union Summit, is another demonstration of the fact that the ANC belongs to the continent, and not just to the people of South Africa alone.
When we needed support, we looked to the continent.
Immediately after the launch of the armed struggle, former ANC presidents Nelson Mandela visited Addis Ababa on 11 July 1962, to attend a conference of the Pan-African Freedom Movement and to seek military and political support for our struggle.
President Mandela, in his recollections, says Emperor Haille Selassie was the first head of state that he saw in his life! He was fascinated by the formalities around a head of state!
Therefore, Ethiopia has a special place in our hearts and in our struggle, for hosting Madiba then, and another former president of the ANC whom we admire and respect immensely, Oliver Reginald Tambo. We thank Ethiopia for unwavering support throughout our struggle for freedom.
We were fortunate to have had President Tambo as a leader of our movement during a critical period. As our foremost diplomat, he opened several international missions and personally campaigned to expand support and solidarity. He was always welcomed with open arms in the continent.
The peoples of SADC (or Frontline states then) and other parts of the continent sacrificed their own security and were prepared to share their meagre resources with South African refugees.
We were granted shelter and all kinds of support by sister countries such as Zambia, Tanzania, Angola, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique, Uganda, and others.
We wish to single out Zambia which has hosted every liberation movement in southern Africa for close to thirty years.
We also highlight the contribution of a generation of African leaders who lived pan-African solidarity in word and deed, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s founding President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, founding president of the United Republic of Tanzania and Agostinho Neto, founding president of Angola.
They have given us a legacy of an Africa that is not scared to fight for its freedom and its space in international affairs.
Many countries in Southern Africa in particular, paid a heavy price for supporting the South African liberation struggle. They were raided by the apartheid security forces and innocent civilians lost their lives.
Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Lesotho are amongst countries that suffered directly from aggression by the apartheid security forces, leading to losses of life.
Others were punished economically for supporting our struggle, for example the Frontline states.
But Africa remained steadfast in its determination not to rest until South Africa was free.
Tonight we also register our gratitude to the erstwhile Organisation of African Unity, (OAU), which played a critical role in the struggles in the continent, from its formation in 1963.
We single out the OAU Liberation Committee, founded by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere which provided funding, logistical support, training, publicity and so on to all liberation movements that were officially recognized by the OAU.
The Committee also organized their presence and campaigns on the diplomatic front through conferences and media campaigns.
Based in Tanzania, the committee played a critical role in the liberation struggle in the continent and is one of the structures of the OAU that we need to celebrate as the formerly oppressed peoples of this continent.
The OAU took a bold and ground-breaking step in 1973, and invited the ANC and the Pan-Africanist Congress to sit as observers at all OAU meetings and gatherings.
It was that endorsement by Africa, that made the prestige of the liberation movement to grow and which encouraged even the international community, including the United Nations, to recognise our struggle as a just one.
The next step was the United Nations, and again, it was an African country that led the process.
In 1974, under the Presidency of Algeria, the General Assembly of the United Nations rejected the credentials of the racist apartheid regime.
Its Western allies also failed to stop that outcome.
Thereafter, the ANC and the PAC were recognised as the legitimate representatives of the people of South Africa by the United Nations.
Later, the UN General Assembly accorded the two organisations the status of official observers to the United Nations.
In 1976, for the first time ever, the ANC addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. We thank Africa for opening the doors to the world in that manner.
We are also proud to be celebrating the centenary during a period when Africa is rising.
The latest IMF World Economic Outlook says that Africa’s growth will be almost five point five percent in 2012 and five point three percent in 2013. This is at a time when other regions are struggling.
We are making progress politically as well. Africa has moved steadily towards free, multi-party and accountable political systems since the end of the Cold War.
Economic governance in Africa has improved. The management of fiscal and monetary policy is much stronger than twenty or thirty years ago.
What we must do then, is to use the natural and human resources we have for the betterment of our continent.
One of the early presidents of the ANC, Pixley ka Isaka Seme wrote in April 1906 in his article the Regeneration of Africa, that;
“The African is not a proletarian in the world of science and art. He has precious creations of his own, of ivory, of copper and of gold, fine, plated willow-ware and weapons of superior workmanship’’.
These riches of our continent must benefit our peoples, and be utilised to create a better life for all, for us to achieve the dream and goals of the founding fathers of the OAU and progressive liberation movements on our continent.
During this milestone year, we recommit ourselves to play a meaningful role in the continent, in whatever way is required of us, to participate in building our continent.
The struggle continues in Africa, that of liberating our peoples from poverty, deprivation and to achieve peace and stability in every corner of the continent.
Work also continues to achieve economic prosperity. The regional integration that we seek, the promotion of intra-African trade and other interventions are designed to take Africa forward towards prosperity and a better life for her peoples.
To achieve these goals, Africa must be united.
That was the goal of the founders of the ANC in 1912 and those of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963.
This means we must strengthen the African Union to enable it to play its role of uniting the continent and leading Africa to sustainable development and prosperity.
The AU must also play a leading role in defending the interests of Africa in multilateral international bodies like the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The AU’s voice must be heard as it fights for Africa to be accorded the respect it deserves as a regional organisation.
The AU must fight interference in the affairs of the African continent, especially by international forces who are pursuing their own agendas.
As South Africa we will continue to play our role as an active member of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community.
We are happy to be part of the march forward towards unity, prosperity and development for the African continent.
The ANC celebrates its centenary on an upward trend. The membership has grown to more than a million, and it continues to enjoy the support of massive majority of the South African people. It has a role to play in the continent and will continue to play it.
Allow me to thank the African Union for hosting build up ANC centenary celebrations here in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of last year’s Summit.
We extend our gratitude to His Excellency Prime Minister Zenawi for hosting tonight’s celebration.
And thank you to all my colleagues the Heads of State and Government for the unwavering support.
I thank you.