Message by Joe Slovo, General Secretary of the South African Communist Party, to the Soweto Rally for the Released ANC Leaders, 1989

On behalf of the South African Communist Party, on behalf of communists in the ranks of the working class, in the people's army, in the underground and in exile, on behalf of the thousands of SACP supporters here in this stadium today we embrace you. We are overjoyed to welcome you back amongst our people.

Your great devotion, self-sacrifice and dedication have deeply inspired all of us over these long years. Since that fatetul Rivonia raid you have been in our thoughts, unendingly. Everything we have tried to do has been bound up with the desire to free you. We have always seen your liberty as inseparable from the liberation of our people and our country.

It is clear what hand has opened your prison door. It is not De Klerk's. It is not Thatcher's. The force that has liberated you is none other than the masses of our country - struggling shoulder to shoulder and supported by the world-wide anti-apartheid movement. Over the last months, in mass defiance in the streets of the towns and cities of our country our people have been unbanning the ANC and the SACP.

It is with pride that we have seen our party's red flag flying side by side with the black green and gold of our national liberation movement. This symbol expresses the indestructibility of our historic alliance. It also expresses a growing desire by our working people to end not only oppression but also the exploitation of man by man. The achievement of a truly democratic South Africa remains the immediate aim shared by all of us. Such a South Africa will create conditions enabling our working people to work for a socialistic future.

Comrades, as our released leaders assume their place once more in the active leadership of our revolutionary movement, history confronts us with the next crucial steps.

Let us ensure that De Klerk's tactical retreat is turned into a headlong flight. Let us ensure that the regime is unable to move back in good order to the next set of apartheid trenches. The situation demands an all-round intensification of struggle.

Above all, let us ensure that our victory, which is now ripening and within reach, does not turn out to be a hollow fruit. To this end we must ensure the ever more active mobilisation and political organisation of our country's working class. It is a class which, in its millions, stands in the forefront of a unified, non-racial South Africa; a South Africa in which democracy will be brought about to its fullest extent.

Its alliance with those on the land and all other patriotic forces will undoubtedly fulfill the finest collective aspirations of our whole nation. It is this unity expressed in the revolutionary alliance headed by the ANC and embracing organised workers and the whole mass democratic movement which will put an end to racism in all its forms.

Comrades, in crucial months ahead we shall be greatly strengthened by the presence of our released leaders in our midst. Together let us spare no effort in the struggle to release our Comrade Nelson Mandela, and all other political prisoners.






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