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Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the occasion of the 35th commemoration of the Mbuzini tragedy, Mbuzini, Mpumalanga

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Programme Director,
Your Excellency, President of the Republic of Mozambique, President Filipe Nyusi,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers from the Republic of Mozambique and the Republic of South Africa,
Premier of Mpumalanga, Ms Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane,
Mama Graça Machel and all members of the Machel family,
Mayors and Councillors, Traditional and Religious Leaders in our midst, 
Survivors of the Mbuzini tragedy and family members of those who lost their lives,
Comrades and Friends, 


Exactly 35 years ago today, a tragedy befell the Southern African region when President Samora Machel and 34 of his compatriots were killed in a mysterious plane crash right here in Mbuzini.

For 35 years now, people from all walks of life have come to Mbuzini to pay tribute to Samora Machel and to honour his revolutionary spirit. 

And so we are here at this memorial site today.

On its own, this site is a reminder of the dreadful past from which we come and the sacrifices many people made to achieve a better world in which all can enjoy peace, freedom, dignity and equality. 

The commemoration of the death of President Machel and his comrades play a significant role in keeping alive the memory of those who selflessly laid down their lives for the liberation of the people of Southern Africa. 

As South Africans, we will never forget the contribution made by President Machel and the people of Mozambique in ensuring that freedom reigns in country.  

In commemorating the Mbuzini tragedy, South Africa and Mozambique continue to celebrate the ties of solidarity and struggle that bind us together.

Through this act, we reaffirm our deep commitment to work together to ensure peace and freedom in Southern Africa.  

The monument we built on this site not only commemorates the tragedy of that day; it reminds us that the fates of our two countries are inextricably intertwined.  

It reminds us that the border that lies just a few hundred metres from where we stand was placed there by foreign powers that had no interest in our history, our heritage or our aspirations.

It reminds us that we are born of the same ancestors, that we have shed the same blood, that we have cried the same tears and that we have shared the same joy.

And it reminds us that we share the anguish of this tragedy.

We share the frustration that the cause of the crash has never been established and, should our suspicions be correct, that those responsible have never been identified.

It offends our sense of justice and our desire for the truth.

Yet, while there is much that we do not know about the circumstances of this tragedy, we are certain of its meaning and the responsibility that it places on our shoulders.

We know that the struggle to which Samora Machel dedicated his life is not complete.

The people of Southern Africa – and indeed of our continent – have yet to know the dignity, prosperity and security that they seek and deserve.

They have yet to recover from the ravages of colonialism and iniquities of apartheid

They still face major challenges of poverty, unemployment, inequality and violent conflict. 

We must decisively deal with these challenges and work towards lasting peace in our region and continent.  

In honour of Samora Machel, let us use the recently established African Continental Free Trade Area to increase intra-Africa trade and minimise our dependence on the outside world for goods and services. 

We are a continent that has an abundance of mineral resources and agricultural produce, but we do not use them for the benefit of our people.  

Many of the finished goods that Africa imports from elsewhere are made from materials that originate on the continent. 

By exporting our raw materials, we are also exporting jobs, opportunity and value.

We need to reverse this trend and beneficiate our own raw materials to ensure that the continent prospers, that our people have jobs and that our children are healthy, educated and happy. 

The continent has some of the biggest rivers, like the Zambezi and the Congo. 

These are big enough to produce enough electricity for the whole continent. 

We have enough sun, wind and minerals to become a global leader in the green economy.

We are a continent of young people, possessed of the energy, initiative and skills to establish Africa as a new frontier of production and innovation.

What we need to achieve our potential are strong democracies, accountable institutions, capable leaders, peace and stability.

We need societies that strive for the empowerment of women and the achievement of gender equality in every area of life.

We need leaders who follow in the footsteps of Samora Machel, who are selfless, who are committed, who are dedicated to serve and who are prepared to sacrifice.

We need leaders who put the needs and the aspirations of the people above all else.

We are having today’s commemoration in the midst of the worst global health crisis in more than a century.  

As African countries, we must continue to work together to overcome this disease and ensure an inclusive and sustained social and economic recovery.

We must continue to encourage our fellow countrymen and women to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and to continue observing critical prevention measures like washing hands with soap and water, wearing masks and social distancing.

We must intensify the struggle for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, ensuring that as many people as possible are vaccinated as rapidly as possible.

No country, no community and no person must be left behind.  

President Machel and his compatriots laid down their lives to ensure that our countries attain freedom from colonialism, apartheid and oppression.  

Let us continue with the struggle to ensure that Southern Africa realises their dream of freedom from hunger, inequality, injustice and conflict.

The struggle continues.

A luta continua.

Ndza khensa. 

I thank you.