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Revival and strengthening of liberation movements



ANC President Jacob Zuma, Kampala, Uganda, 16 July 2008


Memorial lecture in honour of the late Brigadier Noble Mayombo


Members of the National Resistance Movement Central Executive Committee and representatives of other political parties, Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Members of the Ugandan National Parliament, Ambassadors, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Academics, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

Good day to you all.

I bring warm and fraternal greetings from the ruling party of South Africa, the African National Congress, its National Executive Committee and the people of South Africa.

We are pleased to be in Uganda, which we regard as our home, and it is a wonderful coincidence that the visit coincides with this Memorial Lecture to a popular and outstanding son of Uganda, Brigadier Noble Mayombo.

This wonderful country provided support and shelter to us during our hour of need, at the height of the struggle against apartheid, as we had established camps in Uganda. The remains of our combatants still lie buried in this country.

I am pleased that I will be able to visit our former camps in Kaweweta tomorrow, and pay my respects on the graves of our soldiers.

The fallen MK combatants buried here remain a powerful symbol and reminder of the historical ties between our two countries and peoples, forged in the battle against injustice.

We greatly appreciate the fact that the Kaweweta Institute has been named the Oliver Tambo Institute of Leadership, a great acknowledgement of this outstanding revolutionary and hero of our struggle.

We are pleased to have finally been able to visit Uganda for party talks, and believe that our visit will greatly enhance relations between the ANC and the NRM.

Through sharing experiences and expertise, the two parties will be able to provide support to existing and future government-to-government programmes of the two countries.

There is already a lot of cooperation at a governmental level, while party-to-party relations had sadly been neglected.

We expect the technical discussions between the two delegations to produce a mechanism for us to work closely together, as parties, which share the same mission of creating a better life for our people and all in the continent.

Given the history of our two countries, which has involved vicious battles against despotism in the past, it is appropriate that we also celebrate national heroes together, as we are doing today in marking the life of Brigadier Mayombo.

He deserves honour as he played a monumental role in the struggle to free the people of Uganda from the grip of dictatorship.

His contribution in fighting for freedom in his own country should serve to encourage other young people to take an active interest in defending and promoting democracy in the continent.

At the time of his death Brigadier Mayombo had already served his country at the highest level, as chief of military intelligence, defence permanent secretary as well as the chairperson of the state's New Vision media group.

For ten full years he had been a distinguished member of parliament representing the army, where he gained a reputation for his robust debating style, his analytical, sharp and incisive mind.

This young freedom fighter was a painstakingly meticulous person, and a consummate intellectual and professional who possessed great leadership skills.

This soldier was clearly a firm believer in democratic principles. As a member of the Constituent Assembly, he was one of the architects of this country’s 1995 Constitution, and distinguished himself as a strategic thinker.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this Memorial Lecture to this outstanding son of Uganda, we feel it is necessary to touch on the important subject of the need to promote democracy and development, through the revival and strengthening of former liberation movements in Africa.

Our visit is informed by what we view as the necessity of building stronger party-to-party ties in the continent. We believe that we should collaborate to rebuild and strengthen the structures of former liberation movements as well as progressive and like-minded political organisations and parties. This would enable them to lead social, political and economic transformation processes.

We believe that these political parties should add value to the political interactions that take place at an inter-governmental level, through the African Union or regional bodies, or through structures such as the Pan African Parliament.

While these intergovernmental and parliamentary structures play a critical and necessary role, Africa still needs to revive the power of her once powerful political movements to ensure well-thought out political content in political programmes undertaken at a continental level.

The transition from liberation movements fighting for freedom to governing parties has affected liberation movements in varying degrees. The trend has been that generally, political organisations or movements retreat into the background once liberation was attained in Africa.

Most of them ceased to pay attention to political work and concentrated solely on governance. And yet organisational work remains key and important in order to strengthen a political party.

If the political movements take a back seat while their cadres concentrate on governance only, the conscientisation of the people is neglected, and the political base of government is therefore eroded. What we should always remember is that power is derived from the masses and the party, which give birth to governments.

The weakening of political organizations is tragic as there are issues that can be dealt with more effectively and successfully by a political movement. For example, campaigns around social cohesion and building a national identity, unity and pride can effectively be undertaken by political movements, to build on the gains of liberation.

Most importantly, the power of political movements should come from the people. In South Africa we have taken a deliberate decision to make the ANC once again the centre of power. Our view is that a government in office should receive strong backing from the ruling party, to provide support to its programme of action, and ensure that it keeps to the mandate.

That means the party should remain strong, focused and highly organised, for it to be able to monitor and evaluate the work of its government. The power of the people should never be totally replaced by State power, as sustainable power is that which comes from the people rather than from institutions.

What ought to happen is that institutions should play a supportive role and put into effect the wishes of the people.

We cannot have a situation where deployed cadres of political parties such as Cabinet Ministers and public representatives begin to think they have power that goes beyond the political organisation that deployed them, supported by the people who voted for that party.

Ladies and gentlemen, the challenge for us in Africa is how to get progressive political parties in the continent to work together to deal with critical issues facing the continent.

The improvement of the quality of life of the African peoples should be closely monitored by political organisations in the continent. It should have political content in design and execution.

We also have the critical challenge of working for peace and stability and to eradicate all pockets of conflict in the continent

Uganda has played a key role in the quest for peace in the continent, perhaps due to the fact this beautiful country has gone through periods of severe dictatorships and suffering.

That is why we particularly appreciate the role that Uganda has played, under the leadership of His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who personally led the Burundi peace process as Chairperson of the Great Lakes Regional Initiative.

I am pleased to have worked very closely with His Excellency President Museveni on the Burundi peace process.

The President continues to assist South African facilitators of the Burundi process.

These are some of the initiatives that should have the active support and backing of our respective parties, the ANC and the National Resistance Movement, so that we do not act in a political vacuum in pursuing peace.

We also believe that it is our responsibility as African political organisations, to create an Africa that is free of violence and conflict, an Africa with democratically elected governments where the will of the people rules supreme.

Our continent is still facing various pockets of conflicts, whether it is Darfur in the Sudan, the instability in our neighbour Zimbabwe or conflict in the north of Uganda. We all have a responsibility as African leaders to find lasting solutions to these challenges.

As political parties we should urge the African Union and regional groupings to work more vociferously to pressurise intransigent States and other protagonists in conflicts to engage in dialogue and find peace, for the sake of stability and prosperity in the continent.

This is not a task that should be left to governments only, as governments are restricted by protocol and other constraints, while political parties can speak out on behalf of the masses of the continent.

When we talk of an African renewal we do not only mean in terms of economic growth and development, but peace and stability as well as democracy, which guarantees and encourages the participation of the masses.

This is an agenda that many of our people fought for when they fought against colonialism and dictators.

It is an agenda that Brigadier Mayombo that we are paying tribute to here today committed himself to achieving and nurturing during his lifetime.

Ladies and gentlemen another key task that African political organisations should actively tackle is the demon of ethnic discrimination.

It remains a potential source of conflict. It can be eradicated through a very sustainable programme of political conscientisation and education.

This is a key task of political formations. Even if you legislate against ethnicity it will continue if prejudice remains embedded in people’s hearts.

The Great Lakes region has experienced the negative impact of ethnicism through horrific incidents in Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and others.

We need an active programme by political movements to work against this tendency, which has the potential to destabilise Africa.

Another key task of political parties in Africa is to tell the African story far and wide. African children from South Africa to Egypt should know African heroes as part of creating a continental identity.

We have decided to make this a key project in our country, following the tragic and very sad attacks on brothers and sisters from other parts of the continent in South Africa a few months ago. We were all saddened and outraged by the unfortunate episode.

We are convinced that the attacks were motivated by crime and an inadequate delivery of services as opposed to the claim made by the media that it was just xenophobia. We are of the view that we need to intensify the conscientisation of our people about continental solidarity and support.

Continental solidarity and unity are paramount, and we know it very well as the ANC, having sought refuge in various parts of Africa during the struggle against apartheid. The ANC government is treating the question of re-integration of displacees as a top priority so that some normality can return to the lives after the tragedy.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an exciting week in South Africa, as the first President of a free South Africa; our Nelson Mandela will be celebrating his 90th Birthday on Friday the 18th of July.

We hope your thoughts and good wishes will be with him on such an important occasion and on reaching such a milestone in his life.

It is indeed a very emotional period for us as we count the sacrifices he made so that our country could be free from apartheid and hatred.

He came out of prison and showed no bitterness towards his enemies, teaching all including the young, that the greatest power one could ever have on enemies, is to be magnanimous in victory, and accommodating of others.

He remains a shining example of African achievement worldwide and we are truly blessed to have him in our midst, in our country.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we honour Brig Mayombo who was taken away from us at such an early age last year, let us remember all our heroes in Africa, and use their legacy to develop a spirit of commitment to the continent amongst our youth.

Africa needs her youth to work tirelessly to ensure an end to conflict, poverty, disease, homelessness and many other social ills.

We can achieve these with the right leadership and attitude.

Let me use this opportunity to thank the His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and the NRM leadership for the wonderful hospitality extended to my delegation and I. As always, when we are in Uganda, we always feel at home, and it is indeed our home.

We look forward to greater cooperation between our two parties and people.

Thank you.

NOTE: ANC President Jacob Zuma is heading an ANC delegation on a two day visit to Uganda for bilateral discussions with the National Resistance Movement (NRM), headed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. On Thursday, Zuma will visit former ANC camps in Kaweweta, and pay his respects at the graves of fallen combatants. The site has since been converted into the Oliver Tambo School of Leadership.

Issued by African National Congress, 54 Sauer Street, Johannesburg 2001