South African President Ramaphosa said the commemoration of the death of the late Mozambican president Samora Machel 35 years ago “helps to keep alive the memories of the lives that were lost in the fight for the liberation of Southern Africa.”Ramaphosa was speaking on Tuesday during the 35th anniversary of the death of Mozambique’s first president and his 42-member delegation whose plane crashed into the Lebombo mountains at Mbuzini in Mpumalanga Province in October 1986.
Machel and his delegation were coming from attending a Frontline States summit in Zambia at the time of the incident when their Russian-made Antonov plane crashed into the mountains, allegedly caused by the apartheid government because of Machel’s support for South Africa’s liberation from apartheid at the time.
Ramaphosa said the site of the crash “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.”
“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,” Ramaphosa said during a ceremony at the crash site, which was attended by Mozambique’s current President Filipe Nyusi.
He said Africa was in need of “strong democracies, accountable institutions, capable leaders, peace and stability” if the continent was to take advantage of the potential of its vast human capital and mineral resources.
“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,” he said, adding: “We need leaders who put the needs and the aspirations of the people above all else.”
Turning to present day challenges, Ramaphosa emphasised that although much has been done for the prosperity of African people, much is still to be done to overcome the struggle to which Machel “dedicated his life”.
“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,” the president said.
“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,” Ramaphosa said.