True van­guard and role of com­mu­nists: Re­mem­ber­ing the legacy of Chris Hani

The Sunday Independent - - Dispatches - SITHEM­BISO BHENGU ■ Bhengu is the di­rec­tor at the Chris Hani In­sti­tute

TUES­DAY, April 10, 2018 marked 25 years since the bru­tal and cal­lous mur­der of then-gen­eral sec­re­tary of the SACP, Com­rade Chris Hani. As it later emerged, the killing of Hani had been at the hands of a racist and fas­cist clique bent on plung­ing the en­tire coun­try into civil war.

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

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

Firstly, Com­rade Chris, along with others, is men­tioned as the cat­a­lyst of the mon­u­men­tal Moro­goro Con­fer­ence of 1969, widely ac­cepted as one of the most crit­i­cal mo­ments that de­ci­sively shaped the Strug­gle and the move­ment in strat­egy and tac­tics.

Pre­ced­ing the con­fer­ence, Hani and others drafted what is termed the Moro­goro Dec­la­ra­tion, which pre­sented the most hon­est and un­flinch­ing ten­den­cies that were un­der­min­ing the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle in ex­ile.

In the dec­la­ra­tion, Hani’s group con­fronted glar­ing or­gan­i­sa­tional dys­func­tion­al­ity, dis­trac­tion of the lead­er­ship in ex­ile po­lit­i­cally away from the pri­mary task of po­lit­i­cal strug­gle in South Africa, the grow­ing dis­junc­ture between the po­lit­i­cal pro­gramme of the move­ment (the ANC) and mil­i­tary (the MK), as well as en­tre­pre­neur­ial voyeurism of some lead­ers, lead­ing to cor­rupt re­la­tion­ships, al­le­ga­tions of nepo­tism, pa­tron­age and widen­ing gap in lived ex­pe­ri­ences between ex­ile elites and rank and file com­bat­ants and cadres.

Se­condly, Chris Hani had an interview with Luli Callini­cos a few weeks be­fore his as­sas­si­na­tion. In the 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-racial­ism, in­ter­na­tion­al­ism and broad-based strug­gle for free­dom and jus­tice for all.

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

Thirdly, the cur­rent con­junc­ture rep­re­sents one of the sharpest con­tra­dic­tions in the NDR, char­ac­terised by the re­gres­sion of many of the po­lit­i­cal elites in the ANC to the very ten­den­cies that Hani con­fronted, which al­most im­ploded the move­ment in ex­ile.

In­ter­est­ingly enough, the warn­ing by Com­rade Chris a few weeks be­fore his un­timely death is un­fold­ing in front of us, mak­ing his warn­ing a “prophetic pre­dic­tion” of how far elites would go to aban­don the rev­o­lu­tion for per­sonal gain.

The Moro­goro Dec­la­ra­tion, the 1993 interview, the as­sas­si­na­tion and our present con­junc­ture rep­re­sent spe­cific gen­er­a­tional cross­roads in our rev­o­lu­tion, in which Com­rade Chris had the alert­ness to iden­tify the sharp­en­ing con­tra­dic­tions in the move­ment and in the NDR.

Not only did Hani pos­sess the alert­ness of thought, but also the res­o­lute courage to con­front these con­tra­dic­tions, even when they would cost him, even to the point of his death.

Chris Hani best rep­re­sents the char­ac­ter of com­mu­nists in the lib­er­a­tion move­ment, in other words, alert­ness of thought and anal­y­sis, com­mu­nists as the true van­guard of the congress al­liance ide­o­log­i­cally, po­lit­i­cally and morally, as well as com­mu­nists as ex­em­plars of strug­gles and the prac­tice of non-racial­ism, prin­ci­pled in­ter­na­tion­al­ism, jus­tice and fight against poverty and in­equal­ity.

The com­mu­nists have been at the fore­front in the al­liance in ex­pos­ing the rot in the cur­rent con­junc­ture, char­ac­terised by un­holy mar­riage between the par­a­sitic bour­geoisie and a clique of cap­tured po­lit­i­cal elites in govern­ment and sta­te­owned en­ter­prises (SOEs).

In com­mem­o­rat­ing 25 years since the death of Com­rade Chris, it is in­cum­bent on the com­mu­nists to ad­vance and deepen the strug­gle against poverty and in­equal­ity, to pro­vide sus­tained and con­sis­tent fight against par­a­sitic net­works, which un­der­mine the abil­ity of the state to carry the trans­for­ma­tive agenda of the NDR.

But, the fight against cor­rup­tion is not an end in it­self, it must be deep­ened to ad­vance the strug­gle for build­ing a move­ment that Hani said would be “a dif­fer­ent cul­ture in this coun­try, dif­fer­ent from the Na­tion­al­ist Party, dif­fer­ent also from nar­row na­tion­al­ist pol­i­tics in the con­ti­nent. And that cul­ture should be one of ser­vice to our peo­ple”.

One should throw cau­tion that the alert­ness of thought and courage of Chris Hani is praised to­day in hind­sight, but was met with in­dif­fer­ence, bit­ter­ness and even dis­dain by those whom he ex­posed and con­fronted.

So also, to­day, com­mu­nists should ex­er­cise alert­ness of anal­y­sis, but also res­o­lute courage to con­front those un­der­min­ing ad­vanc­ing and deep­en­ing our rev­o­lu­tion­ary trans­for­ma­tion, not with ex­pec­ta­tion of adu­la­tion, a bed of flow­ers and ap­plause, but ex­pect that just as they vil­i­fied Com­rade Chris and even killed him, they will vil­ify and as­sas­si­nate char­ac­ters and even kill com­rades who will dare con­front the rot in our own ranks.

In con­clu­sion, it is in this con­text


that we should un­der­stand the no­tion of a re­con­fig­ured al­liance, as pro­posed by the SACP.

The cur­rent de­bate on re­con­fig­ur­ing must be more than just a struc­tural re­align­ment of con­sul­ta­tion pro­to­cols between al­liance part­ners but should be grounded in real pol­i­tics and cam­paigns that drive the NDR for­ward. In my view, that would be a be­fit­ting hon­our to the legacy of Com­rade Chris 25 years on.




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