In his hon­our, com­mu­nists now need to fix the rot in the al­liance


TApril 10 marked 25 years since the mur­der of the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the SACP, Com­rade Chris Hani. It emerged he was killed by a racist, fas­cist clique bent on plung­ing the coun­try into civil war in a fran­tic at­tempt to block the tran­si­tion to a democ­racy.

The com­mem­o­ra­tion of

Hani (pic­tured) comes at a crit­i­cal junc­ture in the na­tional demo­cratic rev­o­lu­tion and en­cour­ages re­flec­tion, anal­y­sis and a recom­mit­ment to ad­vanc­ing the pri­mary agenda of trans­form­ing our so­ci­ety.

In cel­e­brat­ing the life and strug­gle of Hani, we should re­flect on the sig­nif­i­cance of his con­tri­bu­tion to the move­ment and in­voke his spirit to in­spire us in tack­ling chal­lenges that face our rev­o­lu­tion to­day.

In do­ing so, we should tie this 25th com­mem­o­ra­tion to three dis­tinc­tive gen­er­a­tional con­tri­bu­tions that he specif­i­cally and com­mu­nists in gen­eral made to sharpen and ad­vance the move­ment.

First, Hani, along with oth­ers, is men­tioned as the cat­a­lyst to the mon­u­men­tal Moro­goro con­fer­ence of 1969, widely ac­cepted as a crit­i­cal mo­ment that de­ci­sively shaped the Strug­gle and the move­ment’s strat­egy and tac­tics.


Be­fore the con­fer­ence, he and oth­ers drafted what is termed the Moro­goro Dec­la­ra­tion

(and some­times the Hani Me­moran­dum), which pre­sented the most hon­est and un­flinch­ing con­fronting of ten­den­cies that were un­der­min­ing the lib­er­a­tion Strug­gle in ex­ile.

In the dec­la­ra­tion, Hani’s group con­fronted or­gan­i­sa­tional dys­func­tion­al­ity, the lead­er­ship in ex­ile be­ing dis­tracted from the pri­mary task of po­lit­i­cal strug­gle in South Africa, the grow­ing dis­con­nec­tion between the po­lit­i­cal pro­gramme of the ANC and the mil­i­tary (MK), as well as the en­tre­pre­neur­ial in­cli­na­tions of some lead­ers giv­ing rise to cor­rupt re­la­tion­ships, al­le­ga­tions of nepo­tism, pa­tron­age and the widen­ing gap in the liv­ing con­di­tions between the elite and the rank and file com­bat­ants and cadres.

Sec­ond, Hani had an in­ter­view with Luli Callini­cos a few weeks be­fore his as­sas­si­na­tion.

In this wide-rang­ing in­ter­view, Com­rade Chris re­flected on the move­ment in ex­ile, the armed Strug­gle, the pri­mary van­guard role of the Com­mu­nist Party in ad­vanc­ing non-racism, in­ter­na­tion­al­ism and the broad­based Strug­gle for free­dom and jus­tice for all, which dis­tin­guished the ANC from many other lib­er­a­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions, both in the coun­try and in post-colo­nial strug­gles.

To­wards the end of the in­ter­view, Hani gave a telling pre­dic­tion of what he saw as the most press­ing chal­lenge and enemy of the rev­o­lu­tion to con­front the move­ment on the eve of the demo­cratic tran­si­tion whereby the ANC was to as­sume power.

Third, the cur­rent po­si­tion rep­re­sents one of the sharpest con­tra­dic­tions in the na­tional demo­cratic rev­o­lu­tion, char­ac­terised by the re­gres­sion of many of the po­lit­i­cal elite in the ANC to the ten­den­cies Hani con­fronted, which al­most im­ploded the move­ment in ex­ile.

In­ter­est­ingly, his warn­ing a few weeks be­fore his death is now tak­ing sub­stance be­fore us, mak­ing it a prophecy of how far the elite would go to aban­don the rev­o­lu­tion for per­sonal gain.

The Moro­goro Dec­la­ra­tion, the 1993 in­ter­view, the as­sas­si­na­tion and our present state of af­fairs rep­re­sent spe­cific gen­er­a­tional cross­roads in our rev­o­lu­tion, in which Hani had been as­tute enough to iden­tify the sharp­en­ing con­tra­dic­tions in the move­ment and in the rev­o­lu­tion.

Not only had Hani been aware of the pos­si­bil­i­ties, but he had had the courage to con­front the con­tra­dic­tions even at great per­sonal cost to him­self, in­clud­ing ul­ti­mately his death.

Hani best rep­re­sents the char­ac­ter of com­mu­nists in the lib­er­a­tion move­ment in terms of con­scious­ness and anal­y­sis, as the van­guard of the congress al­liance ide­o­log­i­cally, po­lit­i­cally and morally, as well as com­mu­nists as ex­em­plars of strug­gles and the prac­tice of non-racism, prin­ci­pled in­ter­na­tion­al­ism, jus­tice and the fight against poverty and in­equal­ity.

It is in keep­ing with the spirit of Hani – who him­self drew in­spi­ra­tion from Moses Kotane, Yusuf Dadoo and JB Marks – that the SACP has be­come the lead­ing voice in the al­liance and so­ci­ety in con­fronting state cap­ture.

The com­mu­nists have been at the fore­front of the al­liance in ex­pos­ing the rot, char­ac­terised by the un­holy mar­riage between a par­a­sitic bour­geoisie and a clique of cap­tured po­lit­i­cal elites in gov­ern­ment and state-owned en­ter­prises (SOES).


The ac­cu­mu­la­tion, for pri­vate ben­e­fit, of vast amounts of state re­sources has de­bil­i­tated the de­vel­op­ment and strate­gic ca­pac­ity of most of our SOES and eroded pub­lic trust in crit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions such as the SA Rev­enue Ser­vice, Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity and or­gans of state se­cu­rity.

En­demic cor­rup­tion, rent seek­ing and pa­tron­age have had a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact.

It is in­ter­est­ing that the ten­den­cies Hani con­fronted in ex­ile and which un­der­mined the core of the revo­lu­tion­ary Strug­gle back then are at the cen­tre of the rot rav­aging the move­ment to­day.

This has led to the ne­glect of the al­liance, a bur­geon­ing of nar­row na­tion­al­ist chau­vin­ism dis­guised as pseudo-rad­i­cal rhetoric, with vul­gar sci­en­tific tools of anal­y­sis used to ob­fus­cate loot­ing as rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion.

In com­mem­o­rat­ing 25 years since the death of Hani, it is in­cum­bent on com­mu­nists to ad­vance and deepen the Strug­gle against poverty and in­equal­ity and sup­port a sus­tained fight against par­a­sitic net­works that un­der­mine the abil­ity of the state to carry out the trans­for­ma­tive agenda of the na­tional demo­cratic rev­o­lu­tion.

Just as Hani was, com­mu­nists must be un­flinch­ing in ex­pos­ing par­a­sitic ten­den­cies and lead­ers com­plicit in them, high­light­ing the di­rect re­la­tion­ship between cor­rup­tion and the de­nial of jus­tice and theft of re­sources from the work­ing class.

But the fight against cor­rup­tion is not an end in it­self; it must be deep­ened to ad­vance the Strug­gle, build­ing a move­ment we can be proud of.

As Hani said: “We must build a dif­fer­ent cul­ture in this coun­try, dif­fer­ent from the Na­tional

Party, dif­fer­ent also from the nar­row na­tion­al­ist pol­i­tics on the con­ti­nent. And that cul­ture should be one of ser­vice to our peo­ple.”

We must bear in mind that Hani’s courage and fore­sight are praised to­day in hind­sight, but were met with in­dif­fer­ence, bit­ter­ness and even dis­dain by those whom he ex­posed and con­fronted.

Like­wise, com­mu­nists to­day should be sim­i­larly aware in their anal­y­sis and res­o­lute in con­fronting those who are un­der­min­ing the ad­vance­ment of revo­lu­tion­ary trans­for­ma­tion.

They also must not ex­pect adu­la­tion, re­wards and ap­plause.

Just as they vil­i­fied Com­rade Chris and even killed him, they will vil­ify and as­sas­si­nate char­ac­ters and even kill com­rades who dare to con­front the rot in their own ranks.

It is in this con­text that we should un­der­stand the no­tion of a re­con­fig­ured al­liance, as pro­posed by the SACP.

In essence, the in­ter­ven­tion of Hani, which gave rise to the Moro­goro con­fer­ence, re­con­fig­ured the move­ment and the al­liance in ex­ile, cul­mi­nat­ing in changes in the struc­ture of the move­ment. In par­tic­u­lar, the adop­tion of strate­gies at Moro­goro guided the Strug­gle in the days ahead.

The cur­rent de­bate on re­con­fig­ur­ing the al­liance must be more than just a struc­tural re­align­ment of con­sul­ta­tion pro­to­cols between al­liance part­ners.

It should be grounded in real pol­i­tics and cam­paigns that drive the rev­o­lu­tion for­ward. In my view, that would be a be­fit­ting hon­our to Com­rade Chris.

Bhengu is a di­rec­tor of the Chris Hani In­sti­tute.

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