The African National Congress (ANC) extends our warm fraternal greetings to all the people of the world, the vast majority of whom are poor, during this challenging time where the daily burdens and challenges of our lives are made manifold more difficult by the coronavirus pandemic.
While this message of solidarity goes out to every citizen of our globe, we know that in an unequal world the impact of the COVID-19 virus is unequal too, and the poor – as is always the case – are the hardest hit by the social distancing, and lockdowns, that are needed to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The coronavirus pandemic seriously endangers the struggle for the full liberation and economic emancipation of the people whose hopes are still vested in the former liberation movements in Africa, and throughout the world. It has the potential not only to impede future progress in the fight against poverty, and economic exploitation, but also to roll back some of the hard-fought gains that we have made during long, and hard years of struggle for liberation. It is not an overstatement to say that future of humanity, and our ability to continue to build a better life for all, is in serious jeopardy.
The African National Congress in South Africa, together with all our fellow Liberation Movements in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and throughout Africa, are faced with the reality that our people have no other to leader in society that can provide direction and a line of defense. Throughout the southern African sub-continent, and indeed throughout the whole African continent, it is truly only the former liberation movements, many of whom are now the governing parties in our respective countries, who can give direction and provide hope during this most challenging time.
Two years ago, in July 2018, all the former African National Liberation Movements gathered in the Republic of Tanzania for the sod-turning ceremony for a political education school for the former African national liberation movements. In our message of support on behalf of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC, delivered by the Secretary General of the ANC, we said the following:
“… the achievement of unity of the African people is the guarantee for the victory of our struggles against neo-colonialism and reactionary forces, the enhancement of the living standards of our people, eradication of imperialist economic domination of our continent, and agrarian and industrial revolution in the present age in order to enhance the development of our people”.
These words are even more appropriate today, in the context of the huge challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic poses to us as African nations, and for developing nations throughout the world. This pandemic does not ameliorate the inequalities in our world, instead it deepens and pronounces them even more. Our first line of defense against the huge dangers that the pandemic poses to all our nations is solidarity among ourselves, and from that foundation to reach out and work with all the nations of the world.
There are times in the history of humanity where all the nations of the world must make common cause for the sake of the survival of humanity, this is certainly such a time. However, we can only do so if the economic and developmental inequalities that continue to ravage the lives and hopes of millions of our people are not ignored, but actually recognized, in the world-wide united front that we now have to build.
We support the clarion call by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterres, for all warring factions in the world to stop all wars and conflicts, and to focus on mobilizing their people to fight the spread of the coronavirus. We all now have a unique opportunity to transform the challenge of this pandemic into an opportunity to build long lasting peace, and a more just and stable world community.
In this regard the African National Congress commends the outstanding efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO) to co-ordinate a world-wide herculean effort to combat the impact of COVIT-19. The Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Adhanom, deserves special recognition and encouragement for the manner in which he has worked tirelessly to build, and sustain, a world-wide coordinated campaign to contain the spread of COVID-19, and ultimately to overcome the pandemic. The warmth, humility and humanity in the messages from Dr. Adhanom, touches and motives all across the many boundaries and divisions of our planet.
Coming from one of our fellow African developing countries, Ethiopia, Dr. Adhanom understands the huge challenges of unequal development and overall inequality of available resources among the nations of the world, that the WHO is trying to coordinate in the essential united effort that is required. Recognizing these inequalities, and their concomitant challenges constantly, instead of trying to ignore them, has strengthened the work of the WHO, and the efficiency of its interventions in coordination with the nations of the world. There are huge lessons to be learnt from this approach, that once the COVID-19 pandemic had been overcome, must not be lost, and should be carried forward in how we approach international diplomacy and the daunting developmental challenges that all of us as a global community will continue to be faced with.
The African National Congress also extends our warmest revolutionary greetings and recognition to the people of Cuba, for their incredible example of humanity and international solidarity, having deployed the Henry Reeve Brigade of the “Army of the White Gowns”, in over more than 11 countries across the world assisting in the battle against the coronavirus. This is international revolutionary solidarity, not just in words, but in practice! Those who have tried to isolate, and economically destroy Cuba, stand ashamed in the face of such human solidarity against all odds. This is indeed another lesson that our world must learn, and carry with us forward, beyond the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
The ANC calls on the United States of America Administration of President Donald Trump to forthwith lift all sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Palestine in order to enable the governments of these nations to have the necessary support and resources to protect their people, and fight the pandemic.
The African National Congress joins the growing international call of the WHO, and many nations, to #StayAtHome, and for all of us to practice social distancing. Doing so in our own nation, with our well-known inequalities, we know that lockdowns pose many difficult challenges, and weigh disproportionally heavy on the poor, but ultimately the success of a lockdown is not in disregarding these challenges of inequality, but in a humane way to factor them into our approaches and solutions for a worldwide coordinated effort, that finds local solutions for local challenges. We urge all the people of the world to comply with the regulations announced by their respective governments. It is critical that we must regularly wash our hands, observe social distancing and all sanitary regulations, and wear masks and protective clothing whenever possible.
What is now required is not discord, or a mentality of defiance, but a mentality of compliance and cooperation in recognizing that there is much more that unites us as humanity, than what divides us. United we will conquer the coronavirus pandemic, and build a better and more just world. As the father of our nation, the great President Nelson Mandela said, it is truly in our hands!
Issued by the Secretary General of the ANC, comrade Ace Magashule
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