Windhoek, Mar 25 –Every year, on the 23rd of March, the Southern African Development Community commemorates
the Southern Africa Liberation Day. The decision to commemorate the SADC Liberation Day was
taken by the 38th SADC Summit of Heads of State and government held in Windhoek, Republic
In celebration of this day, we pay homage to the youth and elders, men and women who sacrificed
their lives for the liberation of the Region, as well as the solidarity that continues to exist among
SADC Member States. Those who made supreme sacrifices did so for us to enjoy our freedom to
the fullest. As we enjoy this unlimited freedom today, we must know how it came about and what
life was like before the dawn of freedom.
Southern Africa lived under the shadow of Apartheid which was unleashing its force of destruction
across the borders in the neighbouring countries. In December 1966, the United Nations, through
resolution 2202 A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 had declared apartheid as a crime against humanity
and was endorsed by UN Security Council resolution 556 (1984) of 23 October 1984. The majority
in international community stood together to condemn the despicable evil system of Apartheid.
In 1977, the South African Ministry of Defence, developed a White Paper concept of Total
Strategy to unleash full state power; political/diplomatic, economic, social/psychological and
security under the guise of containment of the spread of communism. This total strategy / total
onslaught has left traces of death, and the destruction and scars from the wounds inflicted are still
From 14 August 1987 until 23 March 1988, Cuito Cuanavale, in Angola, was the battleground
between Angolan, Cuban forces, and the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN)
combatants against the apartheid South African forces and União Nacional para a Independência
Total de Angola (UNITA) rebels. The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale has gone down in the annals of
history as a decisive battle that resulted in the collapse of the apartheid system in Namibia and
South Africa, which led to the independence of Namibia and the birth of a non-racial democratic
South Africa, as well as the strengthening of the national sovereign in Angola and later to peace
and stability in that country.
The historic battle of Cuito Cuanavale, coupled with the sacrificial efforts of the Frontline States
and Nigeria for the liberation of Southern Africa, as well as the support of countries and citizens
worldwide that stood in solidarity against the apartheid regime, ushered in a new era of regional
integration and development.
Following these events, the regional dynamics in southern Africa changed, culminating in the
transformation of the 1980 Southern African Development Coordination Conference into the
Southern African Development Community, on 17 August 1992, in Windhoek, Namibia.
Today, Namibia continues to stand together with all SADC citizens against contemporary crimes,
phenomena, and chains that threaten our common humanity and want to bind us, including
tribalism, racism, human trafficking, radicalisation, domestic violence, poverty, and noncommunicable and communicable diseases.
The memory and legacy of those who sacrificed their lives to liberate our Region must continue
to inspire us to serve the noble cause of our Community for generations to come.
This sacrifice should empower us to forge ahead with the economic integration of the SADC region
to ensure that our regional resources benefit all the people.