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His Excellency Admiral Didier Ignace Ratsiraka (Madagascar)

The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in

His Excellency Admiral Didier Ignace Ratsiraka (Madagascar) Awarded for:
His outstanding contribution to the struggle for democracy in South Africa. He offered the liberation movement a national and international platform through his country’s National Television and Radio Station to operate Radio Freedom in the battle of ideas between apartheid propaganda and non-racial democratic values.
His Excellency Admiral Didier lgnace Ratsiraka was the President of the Republic of Madagascar for the first term in 1975 to 1993 and from 1997 to 2002.

On 25-27 September 1981, Ratsiraka participated at the 9th Congress of Solidarity Committee of the Congress Party for the Independence of Madagascar, known as Antoko’ny Kongresi’ny Fahaleovantenan’I Madagasikara Antoko’ny Kongresi’ny Fahaleovantenan’i Madagasikara (AKFM).

The congress reaffirmed the AKFM’s Charter of the Socialist Revolution under the leadership of President Didier Ratsiraka. In that august Congress of the Solidary Committee, the African National Congress (ANC) was represented and delivered a message of solidarity.

In its resolutions, the Solidarity Committee expressed its continued support for “the just and courageous struggle waged by the oppressed black majority in South Africa and Namibia under the vanguard leadership of the ANC and South West African People’s Organisation respectively”. The congress further underlined the “solidarity of patriotic, democratic and progressive forces in Africa and the world”.

Ratsiraka welcomed the ANC freedom fighters in Madagascar. In addition to the ANC Representative Office which was managed by Struggle stalwarts such as the late Hermanus Gabriel Loots aka James Stuart, Ratsiraka offered the ANC a national and international platform through his country’s National Television and Radio Station to operate Radio Freedom, transmitting political updates and providing information about South Africa’s liberation struggle against apartheid.

During this period of 1979 to 1990, a number of ANC cadres lived and worked in Madagascar and established families, some of which still maintain strong family links in both countries. Despite the apartheid government putting pressure on Ratsiraka by demanding cooperation with them at the time, they did not succeed because he did not allow them to open a full embassy in Madagascar but just an office.

He remains a strong advocate for African solidarity through closer bilateral and regional cooperation. In addressing current political challenges in his country, Ratsiraka strongly calls for national reconciliation relying heavily on the South African experience.

In this regard, he had participated in efforts to bring about lasting peace and stability in his country, and one such platform was the 2015 Presidents’ Summit on National Reconciliation which was organised by the Council of Churches.