Statement on the occasion of the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Chris Hani
10 April 2018
It is now 25 years since the assassination of Comrade Chris Hani, our Party’s General Secretary and member of the ANC National Executive Committee at the time of the assassination. One of the convicted assassins, Clive John Derby-Lewis has died. At the time of his death he was on medical parole. Derby-Lewis’s co-conspirator, Janusz Waluś, the convicted murderer who pulled the trigger, is still in prison.
Like Derby-Lewis, Waluś has been doing everything that could do to be released on parole. This includes bad faith conduct and pretences. The SACP has consistently opposed parole for the convicted murderers. We remain strongly opposed to parole for Waluś. Given its magnitude, the two convicted murderers could not have been the only ones who were involved in planning, who had prior knowledge of, and who finally executed the coldblooded assassination. The SACP reiterates its call for an inquest into the assassination. The SACP has been actively present throughout the fight for complete justice to be seen to be done in this case.
Like his co-conspirator who died unrepentant, Waluś remains unrepentant too. In one of his reports from prison, he makes it very clear that he still harbours his hatred for communists. This is what in the first place motivated him to take part in planning and carrying out the murder of Chris Hani. Further, one of his reports from prison states that Waluś spent his time with White inmates only. At one of the recent parole hearings where the report was discussed, the convicted murderer asked for an interpreting service in Polish. He claimed that this was because he does not understand English. Meanwhile, he also claimed that he spent his time with White inmates only not because he is a racist but because he could relate to them in the language they used to converse. Asked whether that language is Polish, his categorical answer was that it is not Polish but English.
One of the recent developments that are worrying to the SACP are the real intentions behind the decision to revoke the murderer’s citizenship while he is still serving an effective prison sentence. The intentions, and how the decision came about, have not been publicly clarified. The decision first came to our attention at the Supreme Court of Appeal when the legal team representing the murderer presented it. It was suggested that his hatred for communists would not be an issue because he would leave to Poland since his South African citizenship had been revoked. The decision came as a surprise. But there were two other surprises as well.
Firstly, South Africa does not have a prisoner exchange programme with any country in the world. In what way would a convicted murderer who is serving an effective prison sentence be allowed to leave the country was not clear. It would be illegal for a prisoner, regardless of parole application and its outcomes, to be allowed to leave the country.
Secondly, there was a picket in Warsaw by Polish communists in support of the SACP’s opposition to parole for the murderer when it came to our attention that his citizenship was revoked and that if released on parole he would leave to Poland. The reason why Waluś elected to be involved in the murder of Hani is his hatred of communists – which he harbours to this day. The murderer is as dangerous to communists in Poland as he is to communists in South Africa.
The SACP is an internationalist formation. Our perspective of justice is a universal worldview. As our point of departure, we have a Constitution in this country. Our Constitution recognises human rights. The fundamental right is the right to life. That is the right Waluś and his collaborators denied Chris Hani. Further, our Constitution recognises freedom of expression, freedom of association, other freedoms and political rights. It is criminal, unacceptable, unjustifiable and anti-inhuman to murder someone for exercising their constitutional rights. No person has the right to take away another’s right to life. Measures to deter the violation of the right to life must be decisive in the interest of humanity.
Advance and deepen the second radical phase of our national democratic revolution!
Let us make use of this commemoration, in memory of Chris Hani, to forge the widest possible patriotic front in defence of our Constitution, and to deepen the development of our democracy.
The best way to remember Comrade Chris is, in the same vein, to move our national democratic revolution onto a second radical phase. This means that, at least on our part as the Communist Party, we must intensify the struggle for socialism.
As the SACP, we are of the belief that the national democratic revolution is the most direct path to socialism in the historical conditions of South Africa. However, this will not happen on its own, it will not happen without intensification, at the same time, of the struggle for socialism. The importance in this regard, of our SACP 14th Congress resolution to forge left unity by building a popular left front cannot be overemphasised. This is as important as the resolution adopted by the Congress to reconfigure the alliance to function effectively.
Reconfigure the alliance and dismantle corporate capture networks within our movement and the state!
A reconfigured alliance is defined by principled unity and a common programme. A reconfigured alliance is therefore an alliance characterised by adherence to the principles of democratic consensus seeking consultation, collective leadership and accountability. It is not an alliance only through the word of mouth. A reconfigured alliance is an alliance both in decision making and implementation.
A situation where one alliance partner through its executives or an individual leader makes decisions without consultation, or, and worse, a situation where a faction becomes dominant and makes those decisions, is completely unacceptable. This is the general situation we were faced with until recently. However, this unacceptable situation continues at various levels. Rather than build the alliance, arrogance and marginalisation of alliance partners will only serve to weaken and ultimately destroy the alliance.
In memory of Chris Hani, we must combat all tendencies that will liquidate the alliance. The best way to do so is to reconfigure the alliance. In the same manner, we must act decisively against the malady of corporate capture within the ranks of our movement and corporate capture of the state. We must deal decisively with all other forms of corruption and wrongdoing.
A failure to succeed in dealing with corporate capture and other forms of corruption and wrongdoing, both within our movement and the state, will undermine the hard-won democratic hegemony of our liberation movement. This will erode our movement’s democratically secured position of the leader of society. This leading role is not a permanent position. Neither is leadership of society an article of faith and narratives about past history. It is a leadership that must be earned democratically on a continuous basis. This requires ideological, political, organisational and personal discipline.
Those members within the ranks of our movement who lack personal discipline for instance can compromise the movement. Their undisciplined conduct is the route of entry for externally co-ordinated attacks directed at our formations. This is why as the SACP we are on record – that we will not hesitate but we will act decisively should any of our members or leaders be found guilty of corruption.
At the same time, justice must be seen to be done when there are allegations. This is very important since some individuals, their organisations or private businesses thrive through palace politics, character assassinations and malicious allegations. However, we must reinforce our measures and methods of internal discipline and accountability. These include decisively holding accountable those deployed in positions of responsibility both inside and outside of the movement.
The Hani Memorandum that was produced in 1969, contributing to the convening of the watershed ANC consultative conference held in Morogoro, Tanzania, has important lessons. Comrade Chris loathed abuse or manipulation of power and resources. In his memory, we must be seen acting decisively against those within the ranks of our movement who engage in such undisciplined and corrupt conduct. Decisive action against undisciplined conduct, corruption and wrongdoing will strengthen the confidence of our people in our movement. The movement must not be associated with corruption or support for corrupt individuals.
Accelerate universal health coverage – Quality health care for all!
One of the key tasks that the Communist Party and the working class should push, in memory of Comrade Chris Hani, is that of ensuring accelerated Universal health coverage – QUALITY HEALTH CARE FOR ALL.
Comrade Chris Hani was born in a rural village of Sabalele, Cofimvaba, in the Eastern Cape. At the time of his birth, health care for Black people was neglected. The working class and rural areas were on the receiving end of this systemic, and primarily racist, neglect by the apartheid state. Unequal development and distribution of resources between urban and rural areas impacted adversely on health care in rural areas. Rural areas were both overlooked and systematically undeveloped, while urban areas were receiving much attention. In summary, there was just no state provision of health care in rural areas, unless it was next to ground zero if ever there was any at all. Similarly, in urban areas, townships were under-developed while ivory tower suburbs serving White communities and various sections of the middle class received monopolised development attention.
Comrade Chris was one of the three siblings in his family who did not die during infancy. There can be no doubt that there was a direct correlation between the deaths his family suffered and the systemic neglect and lack of quality health care provision by the state at that time. Infant mortality rate among neglected communities was obviously high.
During his revolutionary life and times, Hani was to be involved in leading the SACP’s campaign on quality health care for all. The campaign included two other focus areas, namely the provision of housing and development of sustainable livelihoods to eliminate hunger. The campaign was thus known as the Triple-H Campaign.
A massive progress has been made since our April 1994 democratic breakthrough on the three fronts of health care, housing and measures to assist households to reduce hunger. For example there were clinics built country-wide where there were none before. Approximately four million houses were built and allocated for free of charge to the recipients. Social grants, including child care grants, foster care grants, care dependency grants, were extended to over 16 million beneficiaries. What is indisputably very clear, nevertheless, is that we are still far from achieving the desired goals of our revolution on all of the three fronts.
For example, the importance of accelerated land reform and agrarian transformation cannot be overemphasised – if we are to build sustainable livelihoods on a productive basis. There is a link between food security and the wellbeing of people. In this regard, food security should not be confined to the availability of food. The quality of the food and food health and safety are crucial. The recent example of intransigence by Tiger Brands – and related to the private monopoly’s intransigence – the listerosis outbreak that killed 189 people represent what could be the tip of an iceberg.
The SACP reiterates its call that private companies such as Tiger Brands, to which listeria, the bacteria that caused the listerosis outbreak, was traced, must be held accountable for the deaths that it caused as well as for those who fell ill. Those companies must pay in the same way as the state was required to pay in the case of Life Esidimeni. The SACP once more conveys its sincere condolences to the families that lost their loved ones on the two fronts. There is no fundamental difference between the two, the listerosis and Life Esidimeni killings.
The issue of Life Esidimeni actually highlighted some of the deep-rooted problems that are destroying our public health care system. At the heart of the problem is privatisation and outsourcing of the health care function of the state. On the contrary, health care is our state’s constitutional responsibility. It should not be handed over to private forces such as Life Esidimeni and NGOs.
At the centre of Life Esidimeni and the NGOs that were awarded health care responsibilities as a tender of some sort is not health care. It is money making, private profiteering. It is the profit motive that has captured health care and turned it into a commodity that is actually destroying the public health system. It is the same class motive that has been driving an ongoing agenda in opposition to the National Health Insurance (NHI) and doing everything to water it down and ensure that it ultimately fails.
While we have made progress on the health care front, including rolling out the largest HIV treatment in the world post-2009, the reality is that the state of many of our primary health care centres, clinics and public hospitals leaves much to be desired. There can be no doubt that a massive improvement with regard to resources, equipment, medication, personnel, care, administration and governance is required.
Meanwhile, the profit motive that has captured health care and turned it into a commodity, and thus excluding those who cannot afford to buy the commodity from private hospitals, is thriving because it has also captured the lion’s share of the funds spent on health care in our country. This includes the capture of medical aid funds – and the regime is ruthless. After bankrupting a patient’s medical aid fund for example, private hospitals kick out the terminally ill patient to a public hospital where death takes over after arrival. The NHI might fail if this heartless regime prevails.
In memory of Comrade Chris Hani, let us defend the NHI. Let us ensure universal health coverage – Quality health care for all!
Issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, National Spokesperson, SACP, 10 April 2018