April 10, 2013 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On April 10, 1993, the serving general secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP), African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee (NEC) and popular leader Comrade Chris Hani was gunned down by Janusz Walus outside his home in New Dawn Park, Boksburg.
On the very same day then ANC President Nelson Mandela addressed the nation on national television, and had this to say; “The cold-blooded murder of Chris Hani has sent shock waves throughout the country and the world. Our grief and anger is tearing us apart. What has happened is a national tragedy that has touched millions of people, across the political and colour divide… Our decisions and actions will determine whether we use our pain, our grief and our outrage to move forward to what is the only solution for our country — an elected government of the people, by the people and for the people.”
It was this tragic death of Comrade Chris Hani which signaled a shift and necessitated transfer of political power from the hands of the white racist apartheid regime to the hands of the people as led by the ANC under President Nelson Mandela. It was Comrade Chris’s selfless blood that forced the apartheid regime to concede that April 27, 1994, should be the date for the first ever one person one vote and democratic elections in our country.
Comrade Chris was gunned down and his precious life taken away at the height of a political climax. Apartheid-sponsored violence was ravaging our country, in collaboration with Inkatha in various parts of the country, notably in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces. Many of our trade union activists, youth activists and comrades lost their lives during this time. To this day, the wounds of the victims of this heinous violence have not healed.
Comrade Chris, in his new role as a soldier for peace was visiting various parts of the country setting up Self-Defence Units (SDUs) and preaching peace in squatter camps, hostels, villages and townships. He had become a true embodiment and genuine representative of peace and non-violence to resolve the political impasse in our country. To achieve this, Comrade Chris was willing to lay down his own life.
Twenty years later
Twenty years after comrade Chris’s passing, we are still living in a country dominated by capitalist barbarity and neoliberalism, combined with our untransformed colonial economy and society, which has sharply worsened the conditions of the working class and the poor, as evidenced by violent daily service delivery protests, a growing dissenting voice against the capitalist system, demanding food, shelter, decent jobs, faster and quality service delivery and free education for the workers and the poor.
Comrade Chris was an indispensable voice of the wretched of the Earth and downtrodden. He was loved and admired by the workers, the poor and the elderly and working-class youth. His love and adoration for our people made him pay the supreme sacrifice — his own life — so that we could have and enjoy genuine freedom in our country.
Comrade Chris would be happy to see that his organisation — the ANC — still enjoys popular support among the rank and file, and successive electoral victories have catapulted the ANC into power over the past 19 years of the democratic dispensation. He would be impressed with the massive delivery record in housing, sanitation, health care, education and basic services.
But Comrade Chris Hani would bemoan the fact that our country has become the most leading country of service delivery protests in the world.
Comrade Chris would have condemned the brutal killing and slaughtering of workers in Marikana by repressive organs of the state — the police — in defence of the minerals/energy/finance complex ruling oligarchy interests. He would have correctly characterised the Marikana events as a first post-apartheid massacre committed by the democratic state against the workers, in defence of the local and international mining bosses and their profits.
Undoubtedly, Comrade Chris Hani would have called for the revolutionary seizure and democratic control and ownership of the mines as proclaimed in the Freedom Charter.
Comrade Chris would have cried foul that the post-1994 South African state and government — a government that enjoys massive popular support — operates in defence and sustenance of the minerals/finance/energy complex — and does everything to impress the rating agencies, including defending the property rights and profits of this class, at the expense of a radical National Democratic Revolution.
Comrade Chris would have been incensed by the Lenesia house demolitions carried out by the democratic government against the people. This would have reminded him of the inhumane house demolitions and evictions that were done by the apartheid regime. Instead he would have called for the immediate arrest of criminals parading as public officials for illegally selling the land to the most vulnerable sections of our people.
Comrade Chris would have despised the opulent and glittering lifestyles enjoyed by his comrades in positions of power through the squandering of public resources to fund and sustain the lifestyle of his former comrades.
He would have supported calls by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) for a lifestyle-audit of [ANC-SACP-COSATU) Alliance leaders and government. He would have demanded his comrades be exemplary by not sending the wrong message that public office accords one a lifestyle beyond one’s means and affordability.
Comrade Chris would have publicly denounced some of his trusted comrades holding key positions and sitting in high structures in the movement, but facing serious allegations of misconduct and corruption. He would have told them to follow their conscience by excusing themselves from the activities of the organisation, since this harms the image and political stature of our glorious movement.
Comrade Chris would be angry to see his organisation adopting policies that are identical to our class opponents — the Democratic Alliance (DA) — as evidenced by the adoption of the clearly neoliberal National Development Plan (NDP) as a vision for the country for the next decades.
He would have joined popular calls for the NDP to be abandoned and called for the immediate and radical implementation of the Freedom Charter — which is a shared vision for South Africa by the ANC-led Alliance with the vanguard political party of the working class, the SACP and COSATU.
In honour of this great soldier, leader and true revolutionary communist, we call on the ANC and the Alliance to be guided by selflessness, commitment and loyalty by advancing a radical National Democratic Revolution (NDR) in pursuit of the strategic goals of the Freedom Charter and as the most direct route to socialism.
[NUMSA is the biggest metalworkers trade union in South Africa with more than 260'000 members. It is an active affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the biggest trade union federation in South Africa. Formed in 1987, it merged five different unions, some of whom had formed in the 1960s and 1970s.]