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Address by Nkosi ZMD Mandela, MP on the occasion of the visit to the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic on Tuesday 7th February 2023
His Excellency President Brahim Ghali;
The leadership of the Polisario Front;
Heroic people of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic;
Brothers and sisters;
Comrades and friends.
Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
I am deeply honoured to be standing in the sand in solidarity with the Sahrawi people once again. The wind and dust of Tindouf has brought us back to remind us that our struggle is far from over until every inch of land of the Sahrawi people is free.
I bring you revolutionary greetings from the people of South Africa. Your struggle lives and is pumping in our hearts and veins. How can it not be living when despite your own constraints and limitations you stood by us in the darkest hours of our liberation struggle against the brutal Apartheid regime in South Africa.
In the dark days and nights that our political leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) and other political formations of our liberation movement spent in the jail cells of Robben Island and other Apartheid jails, it was your bravery, courage and heroism that inspired them and motivated us, and kept our hopes alive.
When the forces of global imperialism were backing the Apartheid regime in our country, and the global anti-Apartheid Movement was still in its infancy and struggling to gather support and solidarity, it was the heroism of the Polisario Front that lead to the capture of South African Armed Personnel Tanks made in South Africa and smuggled to Apartheid Israel by Morocco in an act of sanctions busting.
The evidence is still here for everyone to see here in the military museum where those tanks with the old South African flag are still held.
It saddens me that since the withdrawal of the Spanish colonisers in 1975 and the annexation by Morocco in 1976 no progress has been made in liberating Africa’s last colonial outpost.
Numerous extensions to hold a free and fair referendum on the future of the occupied Sahrawi Republic land has been made under the aegis of the United Nations. Despite this, Morocco continues to lay claim to Sahrawi land and perpetuates its illegal annexation in violation of international law, and continues meting out brutal cruelty to political prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention and its clauses on the treatment of prisoners of war.
Some of those political prisoners have been tortured and languishing in Morrocan jails for over three decades.
My brothers and sisters,
The African National Congress has since its unbanning at every National Policy Conference and every National General Conference adopted resolutions in support of the just struggle of the Sahrawi people.
This principled position in support of the Sahrawi Republic and the struggle for self determination by the Sahrawi people forms part of the International Relations policy of our government in South Africa.
We assure you that we will continue to lobby and advocate for the struggle of the Sahrawi people in all forums in Africa including SADC and other regions in the African continent, the Pan African Parliament, the African Union and all global multilateral forums including Latin America, the European Union and the United Nations.
Comrades and friends,
My grandfather President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela reminded us that “as long as there is a single human being suffering anywhere in the world, our struggle is far from over. “
The Sahrawi people are suffering here in the refugee camps and the world is turning a blind eye.
The heroes of the Sahrawi people’s struggle are suffering in jail and the world looks on in silence.
The Sahrawi exiles in Europe have a right under international law to be protected and have the right to return to their homes under international law yet the world ignores their plight.
We feel your suffering and we feel the suffering of those in the diaspora just as we feel the pain of the political prisoners and we will not remain silent.
There are those who expect us to be silent in the face of unbearable injustice but we can never do that and we will never do that.
There are those who are angry at us for flying the flag of Western Sahara in all forums that we speak across the world. The revolutionary struggle of the Sahrawi people will never be silenced.
There are those who are angry at us for speaking about Western Sahara at the opening ceremony of the Africa Cup of Nations. We are very firm on this that there can be no normal sport in a abnormal society.
We waged a battle against colonial dispossession for almost 350 years and for almost six decades against an Apartheid nuclear power that was notorious for its brutality, and we never gave up.
Today, we are here to say never give up, we are standing with you and we are mobilising the international solidarity network to stand in the sand with you in support of the struggle of the Sahrawi people.
Long live the struggle for a free Western Sahara long live!
Royal House of Mandela
P.O. Box 126
Eastern Cape Province
South Africa 🇿🇦