On behalf of the Azanian People’s Organization, AZAPO, who asked me to speak at the Memorial Service of the departed Comrade Johnson Mlambo, and on my own behalf, I greet the Mlambo family, relatives, the PAC and all those who are mourning this great son of our soil.
We thank the PAC for the invitation to AZAPO to pay our respects to this great freedom fighter of our nation.
I arrived on Robben Island in 1973. At that time, Comrade Mlambo had already served 10 years of his twenty year sentence. Having been the first Black Consciousness cadre to land on the Island, Comrade Mlambo is among those that welcomed me and eased me into life in that prison.
On my arrival, there were three liberation movements on the Island, namely, the Unity Movement, the PAC and the ANC. The BCM became the fourth one.
Apart from acceptance and cooperation with the BCM by all three, Comrade Mlambo was one of those that took great interest in the BCM and sought a close relationship with its cadres.
Comrade Johnson Mlambo was a solid Pan Africanist and dedicated freedom fighter. He was a man that possessed of great knowledge and experience. Although he was generally a man of few words, many of us learnt a lot through our association with him.
I met him a few times in Harare when we were both in exile. He was in the leadership of the PAC and I was leading the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania, BCMA. We would always exchange views on the situation in our country as comrades in arms.
In August 1991, he led a PAC delegation that met with AZAPO and the BCMA in Kadoma, Zimbabwe, to deliberate on negotiations then taking place in our country for a political settlement. It was at that meeting that the three movements agreed on the demands that negotiations should take place outside the country under an independent mediator; that the liberation movement must negotiate as one united block; that a constituent assembly be set up to draft the constitution of the future Azania; that the land question be at the centre of any settlement, and that wealth distribution be a crucial element of that settlement.
Comrade Johnson Mlambo embraced these positions with all his being. He is now gone without witnessing the conquest of our land, and it is not hard to imagine he did not die a happy man.
Comrade Mlambo was a constant and consistent patriot, uncomplicated and steadfast. You could rely on his word.
We doff our collective hats to him.
By Mosibudi Mangena