Chris Hani as revolutionary: Eleven quotes

MK Commissar's statements in the 1980s on taking the struggle to white areas, and other issues

1. On extending the struggle to the white areas

“I want to elaborate on this question of extending the armed struggle to the white areas. We don't want to be misunderstood. Unlike Botha, Le Grange, Malan and Chris Heunis, who go out of their way to butcher children, defenceless and unarmed children, women, old people, black civilians, Umkhonto we Sizwe is a revolutionary army and it is not about to embark on mayhem against whites, civilians, against children, but we are going to step up our attacks against enemy personnel we are referring to the members of the police forces, to the members of the SADF, to those in the administrations terrorising and harassing our people to those farmers and other civilians who are part of the defence force in our country, of the military, paramilitary and reserves.

But comrades we are realists. The theatre of these actions are going to be in the white residential areas, and it is inevitable that white civilians will die. We are going to step up attacks against those factories, transnational corporations and monopolies, which exploit and maltreat the South African working class and in the process it is more than probable that white civilians will lose their lives. They should be warned, comrades, because they support that regime, they vote for that government, they condone and justify, rather, the murders committed by that regime, committed in their name and committed in the name of preserving the white domination.” - Radio Freedom broadcast, 26 February 1986


2. On the ultimate goals of the ANC/SACP:

"[The] imperialists have been very fast to learn that it is not the colour of the man which is important but the sort of social system that a given people also after independence [adopts]. In other words the question whether the means of production in a given country that is the wealth, the mines, the factories, the land belong to the people or are they still controlled by foreigners, by the imperialist countries. So then African independence no longer threatens the man in Washington, London and Bonn as well as in Pretoria.

Now the crime that Mozambique and Angola have committed is [   ] to place the destiny of their country in the hands of the people in other words deciding that the means of production will belong within the hands of the people of these countries…. Going to our country, I believe that the imperialist countries have no problem with a black government in South Africa. They do not think there would be a problem. But I think their basic problem is the ANC, in fact it is the national liberation alliance in our country, especially the alliance of the ANC [and] the South African Communist Party. They want to destroy this alliance because they can see the product of this alliance namely, genuine freedom, democracy and prosperity in our country, and namely that the wealth of our country, the mines of our country, the factories and the land in our country will be given back to the people from which they were stolen." Radio Freedom broadcast 31 July 1986


3. On the role of the youth in the People’s War

"The youth, for instance, in our country recently in the same period have been actually carrying out the aspects of the people's war. They have been cleaning our townships of collaborators of the black police and black councillors, those puppets and agents of the regime who make it easy for the regime to implement its policies. That is people's war. It is not a complicated concept. It is the people, all of them, participating in dealing with the enemy, in destroy ing his buildings those administration buildings where the enemy, for instance, plans all his punitive measures against us…. We must not just confine our activities against the enemy where we stay. We must take this people's war into the ranks of the enemy." - Radio Freedom broadcast, 16 September 1986


4. On what workers should do in the People’s War

Interviewer: The ANC has also called on the workers from the factory floor to be engaged in people's war. How could they be involved in people's war when they are only in the factory?

Hani: Well, the workers must use revolutionary violence. They must plant mines, they must flood [unclear], they must deal with all managers, directors and captains of industries who display hostility to the workers' demands. We move to another element to the workers' struggle to the workers' unity in the factory. Workers must not feel that without TNT, plastic explosives, without the limpet, without an AK, that there are no other ways of breaking down the machinery. There is what you call cold demolition. - Radio Freedom broadcast, 20 October 1986


5. On People’s Courts

Announcer: The people's courts: we pointed out to the army commissar that these organs that had emerged in several townships, from the Transvaal down to the Cape, and have been regarded by all democratic and progressive forces as the rudimentary organs of people's power, have however been labelled by other people as mere kangaroo courts, where people are summarily sentenced to death without any measure of justice, and he disagreed.

Hani: I would think that is an extravagant and rather irresponsible way of looking at the people's courts. The people's courts are a new beginning of [defence and justice]. Our people are used to [unclear] the defence counsel and the prosecutor. They say this is justice. This is not justice. This is justice of the ruling class to protect the interests of the regime. Now our people are coming with the people's courts, in other words they are coming with a new form of justice, a people's justice where the judges, where the lawyers if there are any, where the prosecutors are elected by the people themselves and are accountable to the people.” .Radio Freedom, 30 November 1986


6. On necklacing

Interviewer: Can you comment briefly on the necklace?

Hani: Why the necklace? You know for a long time South Africa, being a colonialist power of a special type, has depended on the continued repression of our people through active collaboration by puppets. We know that even in the classic colonial situation in countries like India, Kenya, the old Tanganyika and elsewhere, the colonialist has always depended on the African askari. Similarly, in our country, we know ourselves that the colonialist, the racist, regime if you like has always depended on the active collaboration of the oppressed, on the recruitment of the Black policeman, the Black special branch.

Because the Black policeman, the Black special branch and the Black agent stay in the same township as we are, have have been the conduit through which information about our activities, about our plans has been passed to the enemy.This has made the process of organisation and mobilisation very difficult. So the necklace was a weapon devised by the oppressed themselves to remove this cancer from our society, the cancer of collaboration of the puppets. It is not a weapon of the ANC. It is a weapon of the masses themselves to cleanse the townships from the very disruptive and even lethal activities of the puppets and collaborators.

We do understand our people when they use the necklace because it is an attempt to render our townships, to render our areas and country ungovernable, to make the enemy's access to information very difficult. But we are saying here our people must be careful, in the sense that the enemy would employ provocateurs to use the necklace, even against activists. We have our own revolutionary methods of dealing with collaborators, the rnethods of the ANC. But I refuse to condemn our people when they mete out their own traditional forms of justice to those who collaborate. I understand their anger. Why should they be cool as icebergs, when they are being killed every day? - Sechaba magazine, December 1986


7. On the people arming themselves

“A lot of attention should be paid to the question of people arming themselves. There are arms everywhere in that country. The white community is a militarised community. Every shopkeeper, every dealer, every farmer has got weapons. The people must grab those weapons and use them against the enemy.” - Radio Freedom, 30 December 1986


8. On Inkatha leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi

“Gatsha must be exposed for what he is. He is not a leader of the Zulu people. He is not following the traditions of the heroic kings of Natal, of the Zulus. Gatsha [unclear] Zulu. He is a stooge placed there by imperialism and the reactionary circles in our country. That is why now and again Botha sends him to America to argue for more and more investment to go and campaign against the disinvestment in America and the Western countries. That is why we see him hugging Margaret Thatcher from time to time, because he is their running dog, he is a lackey.” - Radio Freedom broadcast, 29 May 1987


9. On attacking the white areas and farmers

“Now we say the country is in a state of civil war, but people who have seen this civil war are blacks, because the theatre of the action has been the townships and they have been the rural areas, the homelands and the bantustans. Very few whites, except on TV screens, have seen the reality of the civil war. For us, for this war to go to its logical development, the whites also must feel what the blacks are feeling. By this, we don't mean an indiscriminate attack on whites.

We mean that we must go for the white personnel which is responsible for the repression of our people, for those who have been manning the instrument of repression, for the white policemen, for the white members of the SADF, for those who are in the reservists and in the commando groups. We must go for installations in the white areas. We are already going for the farmers, because the farmers are an important element of the SADF…. So what we are saying is that MK units must begin to systematically attack in white areas, so that the whites will not have a false sense of security, but our units are political units.

They are revolutionary units. They are not terrorists. They are not just going to go and pounce, for instance, and crash, or attack a white church while whites are praying or just go blindly [in. When they] go there we must have done a lot of reconnaissance and they probably would be assured that people who are there, who are in the cinema, are members of the police or the army.” Radio Freedom broadcast, 11 July 1987


10. On sabotage

“How many of us have experienced ourselves in that situation that we throw a spanner into that machine there and let it crash. In fact that is one of the problems. It goes on day to day. It is not called sabotage but it is in fact a form of action that is sabotage and I would never discourage the worker today from doing that. In fact, if you tried to discourage them you would be smashed. This is how the word sabotage comes about in fact.

It comes about from a wooden shoe that French workers wore and that in the 18th century in the struggle against mechanisation they threw their wooden shoes into those machines. That is how we have the word sabotage. It is inherent in the practice of workers in waging their struggle. Why should we fight the enemy with so-called clean hands when the enemy fights us all the time with dirty hands We have no choice of the weapons we use. The enemy decides that and therefore we, when the enemy commands the state, the economy, the army and the police force, we use the weapons that are best suited to our condition.” - Radio Freedom broadcast, 19 July 1987


11. On extending People’s War to white areas

“So now you get the black police, the black councillors, the bantustan chiefs, the homeland governments, being used, you see, to keep our people in enslavement, in subjection. So all these people, though they are black, in fact are an active instrument of the whole system of oppression. Now what you see in our country, that our people are acting against these people who are actually in terms of their day-to-day life are responsible for the implementation of the oppressive measures of the regime, of the racist regime. And they deal with them, because it is not a question of colour.

It is a question of that these people to all intents and purposes are part of the system of oppression. So our people, the militants in our country, correctly deal with these people. By dealing with these people, they are not in fact stopping dealing with the enemy as well. They are dealing with the enemy. But it is important for us, the vanguard of the movement, the ANC which leads national liberation, to call upon our people, and it has done so, that action against the enemy must also spread to the white areas. They must begin to deal with the ruling class, deal with the white police, deal with the members of the army, deal with all those who are taking part in the administration of oppression. So what we are saying is the struggle should be intensified to destroy all those who are oppressing our people, black and white.” - Radio Freedom broadcast 26 September 87