The day of the commemoration of the 3th September 1984 Vaal Uprisings, is one of the solemn tribute, to the memories of all our martyrs, of all our heroic men and women of our motherland who volunteered their own lives, nourishing the seeds of the trees of our liberation with their precious blood, for the freedom and dignity of the overwhelming majority of the people of our country.
Their extraordinary acts of heroism, have contributed immensely towards bringing closer our common aspirations, for the building of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. We cherish their legendary leadership role, to the noble cause of the struggle for the liberation of our people, which today constitute the lexicon of the beautiful history of our new-born nation.
We are forever indebted to their supreme sacrifice and commitment to the development of human society. It shortened the long path we had to traverse over the centuries of our struggle, against imperialism and colonial domination. The fateful events of this epic day will always evoke the emotional memories of the past and the present, the memories of the difficult choices we have to make as we march into the future. The day has become a painstaking testimony, of how the resilience, commitment and common determination of our people to the struggle, could transform despair into courage against adversity.
Thousands of heroic young men and women throughout the breath and the length of our beautiful country, occupied the forefront trenches of our struggle, to liberate our people against the injustices of the racist Apartheid white minority regime. They heeded a call from the late President of the ANC, Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo when he said:
“You have no right to lose faith in the certainty of victory. We have our heroic fighters and gallant leaders, some of whom have laid down their lives; others among them languishing in many jails throughout the country. They have not shrunk in the face of enemy bullets; nor have they succumbed to the bullying and harassing tactics of jail warders.
We of South Africa have taken charge of a sector that is vital to the success of the struggle against imperialism. The whole of the revolutionary forces of the world look upon us to play our role in this struggle. Our international duty is clear. Let us march against the enemy”.
It is in the townships of Sebokeng, Boipatong, Sharpeville, Bophelong, Evaton, KwaDukuza, and many other parts of our country, that our people unleashed their struggle against the apartheid colonial regime to insurmountable proportions. Their actions became part of the collective effort of the wider struggle to create better world for humanity.
The rolling mass actions and the defiance campaigns, were driven by the fervent desire to fight for the bread and butter issues, as part of the struggle for the attainment of the noble objectives, for the building of a better future. This is a task our people have set to liberate themselves, from the shackles of apartheid colonial oppression and exploitation.
The majority of our people, the workers, students, the unemployed youth and women, and the bulk of the urban poor, were driven by their common aspirations to fight against the lack of basic services, such as water, electricity, better education, high rates of unemployment, rental increases, high transport costs and the imposition of black councillors, who by extension of serving in the Black Local Authorities, became the immediate puppets of the brutal apartheid racist regime.
In an attempt to break the resistance of our people, the white minority regime, launched a joint army and police operation, that was called ‘Operation Palmiet’, and over a period of four months, through this notorious operation, a number of more than 142 people were killed. When one reads the Report on the Vaal Uprisings by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), one cannot but be shocked by how deadly brutal and cruel this period of repression by the apartheid regime was.
Dozens of young men and women were beaten to death, mothers were strangled for having allowed their children to participate in the struggle for the improvement of their living conditions, and men were shot at point blank range while helpless to defend themselves in handcuffs and leg irons. This was the worse torment of the human soul by the horrors of the Apartheid atrocities.
The Vaal massacre was just another page in the chapters of the history books, about the tormenting episodes of the sufferings of the majority of the people of our country. It was just another horrible episode, about the ferocious acts of white minority regime, which of coarse constituted a crime against humanity.
Through unprecedented rolling mass actions and defiance campaigns, the masses of our people, were able to resist the attempts by the world colonial powers and monopoly capital, to impose Apartheid regime on them. The strategic power of mass mobilization of our people rendered the apartheid state ungovernable.
The deepening crisis was a true reflection of the balance of forces that the apartheid regime, was no more having the necessary capacity to impose its oppressive laws on our people, and our people, were gaining the momentum to render the machinery of the apartheid regime ungovernable, and therefore unable to consolidate its stranglehold against the will of the majority, the black people in general and the Africans in particular.
Apartheid colonialism and white supremacy manifested its true character from the first moment of the arrival of the European colonial settlers at the Cape colony. Over the centuries of colonial oppression and exploitation, white supremacy consolidated its hegemony, by capturing the economy of our country, and therefore the social relationships of our people.
The arrival of the colonial settlers, heralded a period in the history of our country of the most ruthless plunder, of land and the livestock belonging to the indigenous people of the Khoi San in the Cape colony. The indigenous people of the Khoi San, became the first victims of the most barbaric genocide and extermination by the colonial powers.
Upon his arrival at the shores of the Cape colony in 1497, the voyager Vasco da Gama, was received with warm hands and unimaginable hospitality by the Khoi-San community. His first glance was to look with greedy eyes at the cattle and the fertile grazing land belonging to the Khoi-San.
What he could do at the end was to thank for the generosity of the Khoi-San, by naming the area the “Cape of Cows” and therefore also erecting a landmark on which he declared the land to be belonging to the King of Portugal. This is how he appreciated the generosity of the indigenous people of our country and the strategic geographical location of the Cape colony, within the architecture of the world power relations.
The discovery of gold and diamond was another significant landmark in the political and economic history of our country. The strategic socio economic potential of our country led to fierce contestation for control and dominance between the European colonial powers.
The battle for the control and ownership of the wealth of our country, between the European colonial powers, culminated with the treaty of Vereeniging which saw the establishment of the white only Union of South Africa in 1910. This was the beginning of the institutionalization of Apartheid white supremacy, which led to the marginalization of the majority of the people of our country, from the political and economic mainstream.
This is the context from which the ANC-led government is accelerating the process for the implementation of our policies for radical socio economic transformation of our society. This is a decisive intervention aimed at resolving the centuries old legacy of imperialism and Apartheid colonialism, which has become the principal feature of the South African society.
The only way of achieving the objectives for the building of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society, is to ensure that we expropriate the land without compensation and therefore empowering the majority of our people, the black people in general and the Africans in particular, into the ownership of the commanding heights of our economy. Our people need land to better their own living conditions.
We make an appeal to the international community and especially the President of the United States of America, Mr Donald Trump, to respect the territorial independence and integrity of our nation state and therefore give the people of our country the opportunity to resolve their own problems in line with the concrete realities of our own situation.
We are appalled by the determination of those forces opposed to the transformation of our country, to undermine our collective effort, to resolve the socio economic contradictions imposed on our people by centuries of Apartheid colonial domination. The ANC is committed to provide leadership in order to ensure that we achieve this historic determination to appropriate land without compensation.
We make an appeal to all South Africans to be true ambassadors of our democratic republic. The horizons of our democracy have inspired all of us to work together with the common objectives of building a better future for all our people. We are a nation bestowed with a political responsibility of building a new national democratic society out of the womb of massive realities of the legacy of poverty, disease and underdevelopment. Our country and the people are determined to work together in harmony to achieve the objective of this historic task of building a new South African nation.
The features of poverty stricken black townships and affluent leafy middle class and upper class suburbs, continue to be the testimony of the deeply entrenched injustices of the apartheid racial policies which its legacy is still so awfully persistent. This is the objective reality that cannot be and should not be allowed to continue.
The popular upheavals by the masses of the people of the Vaal and many other parts of our country were essentially about the plight of the landless people who were exploited as rental tenants in the country of their birth. As a matter of necessity, our people deserve security of tenure, that can only come through property title deeds and land ownership.
The collective leadership of the ANC is hard at work to ensure for the realization of the historic mission, which in our view, is of paramount importance to the future struggle of the people of our country. We have to do so, in order to respond qualitatively to the wishes and aspirations of the millions of the people of our country.
This is the historic mission we have to accomplish, in memory of all our heroes and heroines of our struggle, of all those who perished in the battle cries, dedicating their own lives, for the freedom and dignity of the people of our country. Together as the people and the country, we are determined to build a new nation, based on democratic principles enshrined in our constitution, and the will of the majority of our people.
What remains important is that the achievement of the aims of our national democratic revolution rest on the unity and cohesion of our people. Unity and cohesion is about making South Africa a destination of peace and human prosperity. The important question of unity and cohesion places a huge responsibility to all those entrusted with the honour to serve on behalf of our people.
To be a leader of the ANC is about being a humble servant of the people. We have to be brutally honest and ask ourselves the pertinent question, as to whether indeed our movement and the people, are able to entrust the calibre of selfless and quality leadership we want. It is time that the ANC and the people of our country, act decisively against the level of opportunism by those who seek to abuse their elected positions to serve their self-interests.
We still have a long way to realize the dreams of the ideal nation we want to build, but working together as the people, we can do more to make our country, a better place to live. We still have a mammoth task in our hands, to make sure that we bring essential services such as clean and accessible water, affordable electricity, free education, and transformation of the capacity of our economy to create more jobs for our people.
The ANC is the only formidable organization with the capacity to transform the living conditions of the people of our country. The ANC remains to be the leader of the future struggle of our people. We appeal to the young people of our country to register for the forthcoming national general elections. Your vote is important as it will contribute towards the development of our country and therefore guarantee your better future.
We urge all our structures and the people of our country to work together in ensuring that the ANC gets an overwhelming majority during the coming elections. In memory of the struggle of the people of the Vaal and many other parts of our country, we must ensure that we work hard and defend the gains of our hard won freedom and democracy.
The fortitude and relentless commitment of the people of the Vaal and the entire country to our struggle for national liberation, has become to be the better South Africa we live in today. This is a task we have to bestow to the future generations to achieve the dream of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
By Ace Magashule, ANC SG