ANC President Jacob Zuma on his return from Angola

Jacob Zuma, 24 March 2008

An ANC delegation led by the President of the African National Congress paid a 4-day visit to Angola to pay homage to the Angolan people for the friendship and comradeship that they displayed at a time when friends were few and to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale.

The sacrifices made by the Angolan people will forever remain etched in the history of the South African liberation struggle.

The relationship between the ANC and the MPLA dates back to the days when we shared revolutionary trenches in Kongwa in the 1960s, in the Eastern and Northern Fronts in the mid-1980s, and again in Cuito Cuanavale in the late 1980s, sharing and providing information behind enemy lines.

Cuito Cuanavale remains the decisive battle that marked the beginning of the demise of the apartheid South Africa regime, which led to the liberation of Namibia and ultimately the liberation of South Africa and the SADC region from what was regarded by the progressive world at large as a crime against humanity.

We come back from Angola charged with pride in realising that as a people and a party our struggle was blessed by the ancestors of the leaders of Africa and the forces of international solidarity.

Twenty years on, the city of Cuito Cuanavale resonates in our hearts and serves to further cement the relationship that we have had with the peoples of Angola, Cuba, Namibia and the former Soviet Union. A battle that broke the myth of the might of the apartheid regime, and further polished the revolutionary phenomenon of international solidarity.

Our delegation was received by the President of the MPLA, comrade Jose Eduardo do Santos, and the national and provincial leadership of the Angolan Peoples Party. In the Angolan delegation, represented were the Young Pioneers, the Youth League and the Women's League.

In 1975, 90 kilometres from the capital Luanda, the FAPLA forces under the MPLA defeated the FNLA, which was supported by international mercenaries and the Zairean forces, who had formed an alliance to overthrow the government of Dr Agostinho Neto. We visited the monument that marked the victory of the Angolan armed forces in this battle.

We laid a wreath at the Monument of the First President of Liberated Angola, Dr Agostinho Neto. Dr Neto was one of Africa’s foremost proponents of human rights and the rights of self determination of the African people. At the monument and in other places we were received by masses of people who had organised rallies to welcome, once again, the leader of the ANC and representatives of the South African people to the land of their comrades-in-arms.

Together with the President of the MPLA, we discussed a number of issues that are pertinent to the continued healthy relationship between the ANC and the MPLA and to meet challenges faced by both parties and to share experiences.

Key among these was the agreement to regularise meetings and cooperation between the two parties and to extend this to the other fraternal liberation parties that we shared trenches with. This is also in an effort to solidify our regional approach to politics, socio-economic development and the security of the region.

Countries that would form this forum of progressive parties in the region would include Angola, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

It is important for us as the ANC and the people of South Africa to continue to remind ourselves of the important role and formally thank the MPLA, under the leadership of both Presidents Neto and dos Santos, for the unparalleled support they gave towards the liberation of South Africa.

This visit was a response to a recommendation made by the ANC National Conference in Limpopo and a formal invitation by President dos Santos, which was then executed by the ANC National Executive Committee at its first meeting in January 2008.

The following were addressed by the two Presidents for further follow up and implementation:

1. Hold regular meetings between the ANC's NEC and the MPLA's Central Committee.

2. Establish a committee that would identify the graves of our fallen Umkhonto we Sizwe heroes and heroines with a view to create monuments and the possible repatriation of our human remains.

3. Play a critical role in socio-economic and political development of the region.

4. Develop a common understanding relating to multi-lateral fora on international issues.

5. Organisational Development.


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