Speech delivered by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the unveiling of the Matola Raid Monument and Interpretive Centre
Your Excellency, my dear comrade and brother, President Filipe Nyusi;
Honourable Ministers from both countries, Mozambique and South Africa and Deputy Ministers;
Governor of the Maputo Province;
Your Lordship the Mayor of Matola;
Family members of our heroes and heroines;
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
Comrades and friends,
Brothers and sisters,
It is indeed an honour and my distinct privilege to be in your presence yet again my Dear Brother and comrade, President Nyusi.
We took a profound decision on 20 May 2015 during my State visit to your beautiful country that we would jointly commit to the timely unveiling of the Matola Raid Monument and Interpretive Centre.
I also wish to acknowledge that the opening of the Matola Raid Monument and Interpretive Centre, coincides with the 40th Anniversary of Mozambique’s Independence, which is yet another symbolic layer to the strong foundation of our shared liberation struggle and our common destiny.
On this solemn occasion, which is reflective of the deep historic ties that bind our two countries and the region, we pay homage to the fallen martyrs of the Matola Raid of 1981, as well as all the fallen men and women that fought courageously in the liberation struggle that defeated the apartheid system.
The Matola raid of 1981 constituted part of the apartheid destabilisation campaign against the countries and peoples who supported the South African liberation struggle led by the African National Congress.
This attack demonstrated the callous and brutal nature of the racist apartheid regime and confirmed the correctness of the United Nations Resolution to declare apartheid a crime against humanity.
Similar raids as well as assassinations were conducted in Zimbabwe, Angola, Swaziland, Zambia, Botswana, Lesotho and France, to mention but a few.
The apartheid regime did not destroy the spirit of our people. Instead, the brutal murder of our people firmed up the resolve of all who remained behind to pick up their spear and fight for the ideals that they believed in and were prepared to died for.
In honour and memory of those fallen heroes and their affected families, the South African and Mozambican Governments initiated this project on 27th and 28th February 2002.
In order to mark the beginning of the construction phase of the project, the Departments of Arts and Culture of both countries organised the Laying of a Foundation Stone Ceremony on 8 July 2011.
Today, we are all gathered to witness the unveiling of the Matola Raid Monument and the Interpretive Centre, dedicated to the memory of the Struggles for Liberation in our respective countries.
This monument is a symbol of victory and sacrifice.
The opening of this Monument stands as a witness of freedom and it also stands as a testament to the resilience of our people.
This monument is our testimony to the world that we have conquered in trying times.
It is a reminder that we were once the victims of the evil apartheid system colonialism and brutality, but we are today witnesses to freedom.
We are the generation that has a responsibility to be that voice that says in the words of Nelson Mandela, “Never Again shall it be that South Africa will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world”.
In his 1999 Speech, President Mandela further said: “we vowed then that we would never forget”.
Today, we redeem that pledge.
We install this monument so that we will not forget. Indeed this monument forms part of our best efforts to preserve our heritage of struggle and ensure that our people do not experience the unfortunate loss of the memory of our glorious struggle.
We are reminded today that the South African and Mozambican peoples, led by the ANC and Frelimo respectively, share historical ties borne out of struggle against apartheid, colonial rule, fascist regimes and their surrogates.
This monument is indeed symbolic of the triumph of the human spirit.
It reminds us of our innate capacity and inner strength to endure the most difficult of times. We remember the manoeuvres of the enemy who sought to permanently crush our resilience on that fateful day in January 1981.
Contrary to the intentions of the apartheid regime, the blood of our freedom fighters that was shed here in Matola strengthened the alliance between the ANC and Frelimo and also nourished the tree that bore the fruits of freedom for the South African people.
Fate was to have it that this alliance or knot of union between our movements and countries would be sealed by the blood of the most outstanding son of the Mozambican people, Former President Samora Machel.
We will always be grateful in our remembrance of the unwavering assistance we received from the people of Mozambique in general and Frelimo in particular when we were fighting for our liberation.
Frelimo always understood that the liberation of the Mozambican people was inextricably linked to that of the South African people.
Indeed we have a shared history and a common destiny.
I am pleased that this place of Commemoration will be able to teach and inform of this shared history to future generations. It is rich with cognitive information, whilst displaying empathy with the victims.
The information Centre will make it possible for the coming generations to gain knowledge of who we are and where we come from.
My sincere hope is that as we unveil this splendid symbol of bravery today, the future generations of Mozambique, South Africa and the entire region, should derive hope and inspiration by understanding what it means to be truly free and acquire the sense of duty to protect this Freedom.
Indeed, this monument remains of great importance as a uniting project between our two countries.
It stands boldly as one of the symbols that epitomise the strong bonds of friendship between our two countries which are already demonstrated in many diverse ways.
It also symbolises the principle of human solidarity upon which the alliance between the African National Congress and Frelimo and therefore between our two countries is based.
As correctly remarked by the late former President Samora Machel: “Solidarity is not charity, but mutual aid in pursuit of shared objectives.”
We must therefore strengthen our ties and have fruitful engagements which will help us to continuously define these shared objectives which Samora Machel referred to.
We must together grapple with strategic questions facing our people such as unemployment, inequality and poverty.
We must then work together as we confront these challenges.
Comrade President, we must do this ever conscious of the heavy responsibilities we have to the people as the foremost leading movements in our respective countries and as governments of our respective countries, in South Africa and Mozambique.
In reflecting on this friendship, I would like to bring to memory, the occasion where the former African National Congress President, Oliver Reginald Tambo at the burial of the Matola Raid victims in 1981, while he was in the company of President Samora Machel.
He declared that 14 February would be “the day of Friendship between South Africa and Mozambique”.
We as South Africa do not take this friendship lightly.
Comrade President Machel paid the ultimate price for seeking the liberation of his brothers and sisters in Southern Africa, especially South Africa and Zimbabwe.
These historic bonds of friendship have over the years translated into warm and cordial bilateral relations that were subsequently elevated to the Bi-national Commission to deepen the bilateral cooperation between our countries and peoples.
This momentous occasion is but a demonstration of our recommitment to each other as sovereign sister countries.
As a member of SADC and on behalf of the Government of South Africa, I would like to congratulate you yet again, Comrade President, on your election to the position of the Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics Defense and Security Cooperation.
I would like to assure you of our support in pursuit of regional integration, peace, security and stability in the region.
We will continue to work together towards the achievement of our continental aspirations and the attainment of the African Union’s Vision 2063.
Allow me, on this special occasion, to thank you Comrade President, your Government and the people of Mozambique for your continued support and partnership in this project, without which this event would not have occurred.
I would like to salute the people who sacrificed everything and left their families, 34 years ago, looked repression and guns of slaughter in the face for the sake of Freedom, the freedom fighters who made this ground historic when they put their lives on the line.
As the Government of South Africa, we say thank you to the families, most of whom are amongst us today, for joining us on this journey to honour and salute these selfless freedom fighters.
We salute Mozambique and all the countries that stood with us so that South Africa could be freed.
Let unity prevail, Let freedom reign.
Let our historic friendship blossom.
Let the Tree of freedom in abundance provide peace, stability, and development to all our peoples.
I thank you.