African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe says it is time his party and South Africans take seriously the part played by Botswana and its people in liberating South Africa.
“When we talk ANC we mention countries other than Botswana. It is high time we highlight the fact that the first external conference of the ANC outside the South Africa soil after the ANC was banned was in Lobatse in Botswana.
“Secondly we need to have a monument in Botswana to remember the massacres that (sic) was carried out by the apartheid regime,” he stated. Mantashe, who led an ANC delegation to attend ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) 55th Anniversary in Serowe, said they came to Botswana to express their gratitude. He said Batswana did not only support the idea of forming the ANC.
“In the inaugural conference of the ANC Kgosi Khama of Bangwato was there. The resolution to form the Native National Congress in 1912 was supported by Kgosi Mokgalagadi Moisakgomo of Bangwaketse. These mean Batswana have been part of the formation of the ANC.
“The ANC is your party. The person who initiated the idea of the Freedom Charter is the son of Botswana. He made the proposal in the Cape Conference of the ANC. But because of the brutality of the Nationalist Party, he was not in Cape Town but he planted the seed of the idea on the Cape conference,” said Mantashe.
He explained that what should be appreciated more is that when the ANC decided to take up arms, the idea was formulated in Lobatse. You provided us with the most reliable route for our members hence your giving us the route made the Nationalist party to be aggressive and brutal in the Zeerust- Potchefstroom corridor, said Mantashe.
The ANC Secretary General thanked the BDP government for not having handed any of its members to the enemy. Explaining the relationship between BDP government and ANC, Mantashe stated that when ANC presented a very delicate request to President Seretse Khama verbally at an OAU Summit in Addis Ababa, Oliver Tambo was asked to put the request in writing.
He revealed that the request was indeed put in writing but the response was not. He indicated that in the verbal response it was stated that, “We have considered the request but we found it difficult to accede to it because we did not want the apartheid regime to justify its suspicion that we are militarily aiding the liberation movement”.
Mantashe said where Botswana’s strength is captured in the response is when they said ANC members will be allowed into Botswana if they would come quietly.
“The next request for facilitation of the military training venue the government said it had to weigh options. They said if apartheid regime learns that they have facilitated such a venue they would come here claiming to be looking for those groups”, he said.
Mantashe explained that Botswana Government presented an alternative plan, which was; if the ANC members could come to Botswana in a way that the government would not have seen them then the government would state that it never saw the ANC members passing through Botswana.
He said he had to explain this because “many people when we discuss role of the various liberation movements, they always get tempted to downplay the role of Botswana. Our view is that we have a duty to step up that role and explain to all and sundry how Botswana played its role including the formation of the Frontline States.
“So we are here to tell you that we are one and need to work closely together. When we are in trouble, it is you who are in trouble. If we have got problems it is your problems.”