True vanguard and role of communists: Remembering the legacy of Chris Hani
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
THE WARNING BY
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.
HANI BEFORE HIS
DEATH IS UNFOLDING
IN FRONT OF US