Address by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during the 30th anniversary of the Mbuzini tragedy, Mbuzini, Mpumalanga.

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17 Oct 2016

The meeting of our peoples 30 years after the Mbuzini tragedy reminds us of the historic bonds that join our nations.  These are bonds that were forged in the crucible of struggle against colonial domination.  They are bonds that were nourished by the blood of our martyrs.  They are bonds that show that a just cause knows no borders.  As South Africa, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the people of Mozambique for their unconditional moral, political and material support of our liberation movement.

Mozambique and other former Frontline States paid a heavy price for supporting our cause for freedom and justice.  The commemoration of the Mbuzini tragedy affords us an opportunity to pay special tribute to the families of our heroes who fell on this soil at the height of our struggle.  It allows us to pay tribute to the people of Mozambique for their solidarity and sacrifice.  From President Samora Machel we learnt that the task of the African revolution is to invent a new society whose cornerstone is the welfare of all, not the exploitation of one by another.  He unconditionally welcomed liberation fighters in Mozambique and dedicated his life to the complete emancipation of Southern Africa.

He lost his life on his journey to achieve a peaceful, stable, secure and prosperous region.  It was the courage and patriotism of the military commander of Frelimo that inspired a generation of young revolutionaries in our country to confront the might of the apartheid security machinery.  He continues to inspire us to build a society free of prejudice, racism, patriarchy and exploitation.  At a site like this one, we are poignantly reminded that Africa’s heroes and heroines paid a grave price for freedom from colonial bondage.

It is a constant reminder that we, the beneficiaries of the selfless sacrifices of our heroes and heroines, must never take freedom for granted.  It reminds us that revolution must remain a way of life as we struggle to break free of the clutches of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.  Thirty years after the tragedy, we are bound to ask whether President Samora Machel would be satisfied with the progress we have made in ushering in an era of peace, unity and prosperity.

We must ask ourselves whether we are equal to the task of creating inclusive societies that share their wealth among their people.  Would he be satisfied that we have invented a new, humane social order at the service of the vulnerable?

When he assess us as leaders, would he be satisfied that on a daily basis we work tirelessly to build lasting unity among the people?  In honouring the memory of great African leaders like Samora Machel, Julius Nyerere, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela, we must remember that leadership to them meant only dedicated service to Africa.  They understood that the unity of the masses was sacrosanct.  They knew that leaders had to lead by example to build trust, confidence and consensus in the interests of the wellbeing of Africa’s toiling masses.

Your Excellency,  Our two countries have achieved much in our efforts to build a better life for our citizens.  Together we have built strong diplomatic and economic relations on the foundations of a common history.  We are working together to boost economic growth, create employment and reduce inequality.  The creation of the Maputo Development Corridor, which links the port of Maputo with our country’s industrial heartland, is a vital part of our effort to promote trade and investment and foster regional integration.

Hundreds of South African companies have invested in Mozambique and we continue to seek ways to grow mutually-beneficial bilateral trade.  Our various bilateral agreements have opened up economic opportunities that benefit both the people of Mozambique and South Africa.  Both our countries possess vast deposits of minerals resources.  Our task is to extract the greatest value from these resources before we ship them off to our trading partners around the world.

South Africa and Mozambique have long coastlines.  To promote inclusive economic growth, we must work with our local populations to derive maximum benefit from the oceans economy. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,  this memorial site in honour of the memory of President Machel and the 34 other people who perished here was intended to give visitors an experience of discomfort. The 35 steel tubes are designed to bleed red as they rust.

Visitors are meant to hear the lamenting sounds of the pillars with the blowing of the wind.  This memorial is intended to generate a sense of unease. This memorial must trouble the conscience of all African patriots when they realise that our people continue to languish in poverty, deprivation and want.  It must inspire the young people of our countries to make the best use of opportunities available to them to improve their lives and their people.   It must not allow anyone of us to be comfortable when our mothers and children live in despair and are exposed to danger.

President Machel went to war to liberate his country.  Mozambique would later experience a protracted civil war that cost many lives and caused much suffering.  In South Africa, liberation fighters like Solomon Mahlangu, Vuyisile Mini, and Ruth First were killed by the murderous apartheid regime.  This memorial must remind the peoples and leaders of our countries that there is no place in independent Africa for civil strife and war.  We must make peace our goal and dialogue our modus operandi to resolve differences as we build a new society.  To ensure that our leaders did not perish in vain, we must build unity among our people.  We must be willing to make personal sacrifices to achieve prosperity and peace for the generations that will follow us.

We should recall what President Samora Machel said about the unfinished tasks of our revolution.

He said:

We want to create conditions such that in this generation disease, hunger, poverty, illiteracy and ignorance should begin to vanish forever from our country.

Just as we emerged victorious from the struggle against colonialism, just as we smashed the racist aggression of the illegal Ian Smith regime, so we shall also emerge victorious from this battle, because once again we shall be able to bring together the energy and intelligence of the entire people for peace, progress, prosperity and plenty.

It is the task of all of us to organise society so that we can conquer underdevelopment.

South Africa and Mozambique are two countries, but we are one people.  We are all the children of Samora Machel.  We share the same aspirations and we confront the same challenges.

As we gather here today to remember our heroes, we pledge that we will work side by side and will not rest until the freedoms for which Samora Machel gave his life are won.  God Bless Africa!

Aluta Continua!  I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE PRESIDENCY