Matola Monument to Honour Fallen Heroes (allAfrica.com)

President Jacob Zuma will on Friday visit Mozambique to unveil the Matola Monument and Interpretative Centre in remembrance of members of Umkhonto We Sizwe who were killed during a raid in 1981.

The unveiling of the memorial aims to honour the fallen heroes of the Matola raid as part of the Heritage Month programme, and also to pay homage to the sacrifices and contributions made by the Mozambicans towards a free, non-racial and democratic South Africa.

During the unveiling ceremony, President Zuma and his counterpart, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique will lay a wreath at the grave site, in Llhanguene Cemetery, in memory of those struggle heroes who were executed during the raid.

The two Heads of State will also interact with families of the victims as well as survivors of the ill-famed raid.

“The Monument and the Centre also form part of government’s effort to redress the historical imbalances in heritage sites and to promote social cohesion and nation building. They also form part of the Liberation Heritage Route which preserves South Africa’s liberation legacy,” the Presidency said on Tuesday.

The route recognises the people, communities, events and places which had a significant impact on the struggle for liberation and also stimulates much needed economic development and job creation in South Africa and its neighbouring countries.

Matola raid

On 30 January 1981, the South African Defence Force of the then apartheid government raided the African National Congress safe houses in Matola, a suburb in the outskirts of Maputo, and instantly killed 13 members of Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK) and one Mozambican national. These safe houses served as transit points for MK cadres.

The raid constituted part of the apartheid destabilisation campaign against countries and people who supported the liberation struggle in neighbouring countries. Similar raids and assassinations were also conducted in Zimbabwe, Angola, Swaziland, Zambia, Lesotho and France, among others.

In 1982, on the first commemoration event of the Matola raid, the late Mozambican President Samora Machel called for this day to be declared as the day of friendship between the two neighbouring countries.

Bilateral relations

South Africa and Mozambique share strong historical and fraternal ties dating back to the time of the fight against colonialism and apartheid.

To date, the two countries share strong economic ties and have formed strong historic and strategic bilateral relations in the many areas of cooperation over the last two decades. Key in this regard, was the decision in 2011 to elevate the structured bilateral mechanism to an annual Bi-National Commission.

During a state visit to Mozambique in May 2015, President Zuma reiterated that the depth and extent of cooperation between the two countries was amplified by the existence of over 60 bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding covering a wide range of sectors.

These include energy, transport, trade and investment, agriculture, environment, water, defence and security, immigration, science and technology, labour, communication, tourism, arts and culture, sport, amongst others.

President Zuma will be accompanied by families of the victims and Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa, Public Works Thulas Nxesi, Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the Deputy Minister responsible for Military Veterans, Kebby Maphatsoe.

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