Harare, Feb 4(SAPA) - There is no alternative to armed struggle against the "Pretoria regime" and the African National Congress will intensify it as long as apartheid prevails, says the ANC President Mr. Oliver Tambo in an interview published in the Zimbabwe Herald on Monday.

All the alternatives to peaceful struggle in the past had failed, he said. "Therefore we say to remove armed struggle the regime should first remove apartheid which is the cause of armed struggle."

The system had been responsible for sending millions of people into barren lands where, he said, they were only queuing up for death. The bantustans were themselves an act of violence, so it was wrong to think his organisation would abandon the armed struggle. "In any case, even if there were any talks and if we thought the time had come for talks with the Pretoria regime, we would not abandon the armed struggle. We would simply carry on."

Mr. Tambo said he wanted to correct the impression created by the speculations about talks between Pretoria and his organisation and the possibility of the ANC abandoning armed struggle. "We would not talk to the regime about the fate of our country before the unconditional release of Nelson Mandela and the other leaders imprisoned with him," he said.

On the recent offer by the President of South Africa, Mr. P.W. Botha, to release Mandela on condition he renounces the use of violence, Mr. Tambo said it was significant only to the extent that it was a new condition, which Mr. Mandela would once again reject. "Up to now and for many years Mr. Mandela has been offered release on condition that he went to live in the bantustans, to endorse and recognise the so-called independent bantustans, but consistently, he had rejected the condition."

Pretoria should know by now that Mandela was a man whose life was governed by strong principles and if "they want to talk to him about armed struggle", then they would talk to him as a free man.

It was not clear why "we who are the victims of violence are expected to abandon our violence when the regime pursues us with worse violence".

On the recent proposal by Mr. Botha that Africans living in the urban areas should have different status from those in the bantustans, Mr. Tambo said all that it represented was another idea for bantustans in the urban areas. He said whatever "the regime" was trying to build - including its so-called constitutional reforms - was being built upon the foundation of apartheid which at any rate was cracking. The "so-called urban Africans" would not be deceived by the ploy which only represented the regime's belief in apartheid and its determination to defend it, Mr. Tambo said.

Asked whether the apparent lull in the armed activities of the ANC was because the Nkomati Accord was beginning to have some effect, he said there had been more military activities in South Africa by his organisation after the Nkomati Agreement than before.

Armed struggle was a part of the ANC's strategy which consisted of international mobilisation in support of the struggle; the internal activities of the people; and their unity of action in resistance to apartheid. Armed struggle needed all the three fronts in order to be successful.

"The recent upsurge of mass resistance, coupled with the numerous strikes, the resistance to the constitutional amendment and the opposition to the Coloured and Indian election for the tri-cameral parliament, form an essential part of the armed struggle," Mr. Tambo said.

The ANC had never believed the neighbouring African States should offer their countries as rearguard bases for the armed struggle in South Africa. "We planned our military activities in the knowledge that the frontline States were vulnerable," he said.

Asked what significance he attached to the growing opposition to apartheid in the United States, Mr. Tambo said it was significant for the future of the "racist regime" and was a complement, not a substitute, for the internal struggle against apartheid. "It undermines the calculation the racist regime had that it was going to have another four years of uninterrupted blissful relations with the Reagan administration."

The opposition to apartheid in the United States was beginning to involve people in the highest positions and was targeted against the policy of constructive engagement in southern Africa.

On the recent visit of Senator Edward Kennedy to South Africa which was opposed by AZAPO (Azanian People's Organisation), Mr. Tambo said the people of South Africa did not lose anything by the visit as long as Senator Kennedy was opposed to apartheid.

On the argument by some bantustan spokesmen that economic sanctions against South Africa would bring more suffering to the African people, he said that was an "old song" telling the Africans to accept enslavement to avoid suffering. "It is an argument being repeated by people in South Africa who are by definition puppets of the regime whose word only has meaning to the exploiters and the companies which want to live off our cheap labour on the pretext of giving us jobs when they are reinforcing the apartheid system," the ANC leader said.

* SAPA, February 6, 1985


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