Commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of the cowardly assassination of Comrade Chris Hani
Address by SACP General Secretary Cde Blade Nzimande, 11 April 2016
Let us take our cue from the revolutionary life and times of Comrade Chris Hani!
“Guptas not our answer to the Ruperts”: Confront corporate capture and advance the second, more radical phase of our revolution
This April, we are commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the assassination of our late SACP General Secretary, and leader of the ANC and MK, Cde Martin Thembisile ‘Chris’ Hani, at a time when our movement is facing some critical challenges. These times require the same kind of boldness, decisiveness and forthrightness shown by the cadres of the Wankie and Spolilo Campaigns as well as those who, soon afterwards, wrote the Hani Memorandum to the then leadership of the ANC led by Cde Oliver Tambo in 1969.
What was the essence of the Hani Memorandum?
Comrade Chris together with other combatants had just been released from prison after serving just over two years of the sentence that was imposed on them after they were arrested in Botswanafollowing the setback of the Wankie Operation. According to their experience in the movement after their release it was as if nothing had happened. The memorandum strongly criticised the leadership of the movement over its handling of the situation. Some within the ranks of the leadership were not happy with the memorandum. This immediately landed him, in his own words, “into trouble with the movement in 1969”.
That memorandum was about a combination of the problems facing the movement at the time, in its first decade of exile and underground; problems of a problematic leadership style, including favouritism towards the children and descendants of some of the well known leaders within the movement, corruption, patronage and distance from the people inside the country.
It took the outstanding leadership qualities of President OR Tambo to redirect the anger from within the ranks of the leadership, away from the anger, according to Comrade Chris, of “the underlings” – the authors of the memorandum who for some time “were left in the cold”. It was under the leadership of President OR Tambo, which Comrade Chris correctly characterised as intelligent, that the ANC convened its watershed consultative conference in April 1969 inMorogoro, Tanzania.
The conference provided greater clarity in terms of the theory and practice of our struggle. It produced the first Strategy and Tactics document of the ANC charting the most profound way forward for our struggle. The perspectives elaborated in the 1969 ANC Strategy and Tactics document were widely shared by other alliance components and became their own too. In Comrade Chris’s view, had it not been of the memorandum “there would have been no Morogoro conference”.
This is how Comrade Chris defined the leadership qualities of President OR Tambo:
“Tambo moved away from vindictive action to understanding that what was primary was to build the movement; He was not a leader who believed in the cult of the personality, and who wanted to take decisions on his own; He was a comrade who always interacted with other comrades; He consulted everybody, at every level; And that is why the ANC didn’t suffer the serious trauma of other organisations through serious splits, through infighting…; Tambo welded a team and that’s one of his most important and immortal contributions. President OR Tambo felt that he was leading a movement, he was remaining there as a leader because the people actually agreed with him and he saw himself as an interpreter, as an implementer of collective decisions… which came from a number of levels throughout the movement”.
According to Comrade Chris, summing up his experiences about the good leadership qualities of President Tambo, who he described as “a scientific analyst”, Tambo paid attention to the needs of the movement. He never formed cliques with any individual in the organisation. He encouraged people to be critical and he listened to criticism …a President who saw his historic mission as keeping the ANC together…” Tambo valued the support to the ANC from alliance partners and would ensure that they are consulted “on key and crucial elements of the strategy and tactics of the struggle”.
Comrade Chris was an active cadre of a vanguard Party, the SACP, operating in the context of an alliance with a broad liberation movement, the ANC. In the crisis years of the late 1960s he understood several things of great relevance to our present situation. By taking leadership in writing the Memorandum, Comrade Chris understood the vanguard leadership role that is expected of communist cadres. But he also understood that internal problems within the ANC needed to be addressed by the ANC leadership collective itself.
The Hani Memorandum was directed to the ANC leadership, not to the commercial media. The memorandum did not threaten to walk out of the ANC, nor did it criticise the problems of favouritism, corruption, and bureaucratic neglect from the comfortable position of retirement, from a holier-than-thou factionalism, from the perspective of disappointed Mbeki-era dynasties. It was written from a principled and not opportunistic or populist standpoint, within and with the fullest sense of responsibility to the wider movement.
The ensuing Morogoro conference was a decisive historical moment for an ANC that had suffered a devastating strategic defeat at the hands of the apartheid regime in the mid-1960s. Morogoro was the decisive watershed that enabled the ANC to renew itself and in the course of the 1970s to regain its all-important leadership role of the liberation struggle. That, too, is a lesson for us now in the present.
The ANC leadership collective must be given time and space – but also with a sense of urgent responsibility – to sort out its challenges and problems. Short-cuts, external “beauty contests” will not provide a durable solution for the many challenges confronting our movement and our country. That is why, for instance, the SACP will not march to the opportunistic drum-beat of the DA and others like them, who have every interest in prolonging the problems facing the ANC. It was also correct for the ANC in parliament not to play along a path defined by the DA and the rest of the opposition parties that have converged with the DA. No self-respecting revolutionary movement would have followed the path set by its opponents!
In memory of Comrade Chris Hani, let us together intensify the fight against corporate capture!
We are commemorating Hani’s assassination in the wake of very important resolutions taken at our Alliance Summit last year. After thorough discussions and analyses that Summit declared on 1 July 2015, amongst other things, that:
“A growing social distance between leadership and our mass constituency, including a disconnect between the focus of branch activities and the social and economic realities of communities, crass displays of wealth and arrogance.
“These problems reinforce and are connected to the deliberate manipulation and subversion of internal democratic processes through the manipulation of membership through gate-keeping and the use of money to advance individual ambitions and factions based on patronage and nepotism. This behaviour is also the entry-point for corporate capture and private business interests outside of our formations to undermine organisational processes.”
The most important point to highlight here is that contrary to claims by some of our own comrades, the idea and identification of the phenomenon of ‘corporate capture’ did not come from some of the allies only but from the Alliance as a whole – as the Alliance Summit declaration categorically shows.
Seemingly some of our own comrades are embarking on a defensive stance. They are asking the rhetorical question why should the Guptas be fought when we have the Ruperts (and other capitalist oligarchs) who have long captured either the apartheid state or even parts of the post apartheid state, and with regards to the latter, fingers are usually pointed out at the Treasury.
This is an extremely disingenuous argument which seems to suggest that the Guptas are our answer to the Ruperts. It is a false option often presented by those who are either direct beneficiaries of the Gupta largesse, or are nothing but political and state fronts and economic extensions or political front of the Gupta sections of the parasitic bourgeoisie.
The fact of the matter is that the relationship between the Guptas and our movement and the government it leads is TOXIC! But at the same time we need to point out that blaming the Guptas alone is not enough. The question that has to be answered is who is this family working with on the side of our movement and government? There definitely are two sides to this toxic relationship.
Neither the Ruperts nor the Guptas are the solution, but the solution rests with the organised muscle of the workers and poor of our country to transform our economy. Much as the ANC possesses the best policies and potential mobilisational capacity to galvanise the motive forces to change society for the better, its failure to lead and deal decisively with this worst form of parasitic capitalism during this period may seriously derail our revolution and begin a process towards its own implosion if not demise. We agree with the sentiments of the ANC Secretary General that we may indeed degenerate into a mafia state – unless we decisively deal with these degenerative tendencies within our own movement and government. The working class dare not allow this to happen!
As the SACP we are proud of our relentless struggle against capitalism and against all forms of corporate capture and other subsidiary tendencies. We have over decades criticised and exposed the shenanigans of the Oppenheimer capitalist oligarchy, both before and after the 1994 democratic breakthrough, for example, through our campaign for the transformation of the financial sector. We exposed and fought to dislodge the 1996 class project from within our own ranks. The 1996 class project sought to impose a neo-liberal agenda, including privatisation. It advanced the capture of our democratic government by established capital acting together with emerging and parasitic black sections of capital.
By exposing the 1996 class project we were not fighting for the Guptas to capture our state! Whoever thought so is seriously mistaken. The working class must make this absolutely clear. And it is for this reason that we will fight the parasitic behaviour of the Guptas in the same way as we fought against the 1996 class project and the Oppenheimer or Rupert oligarchies.
The SACP says: “Neither the Ruperts nor the Guptas”!
Let us treasure the memory of Chris Hani and Oliver Tambo!
Until recently, the SACP was virtually alone from within the alliance in raising its voice against the illicit doings of the Gupta family. Back in 2013, when the Guptas had the arrogance to land their wedding party guests at a national key point, the Waterkloof Air Base, SACP May Day speakers (May Day happened to be the day following the Waterkloof debacle) throughout the country warned that our country was in danger of becoming a banana republic. We wanted to know who had authorised this national embarrassment.
In the years since we have continued to be outspoken about the dangers of Gupta-led corporate capture. But we have never confined our criticism of corporate capture to the Guptas. When Brett Kebble’s criminal circle infiltrated the ANC Youth League and key parts of the state, we spoke up loudly and clearly. When the former ANC Youth League president, Julius Malema, called for the nationalisation of the mines – we exposed the call for what is was, a new form of corporate capture. Malema’s pseudo-nationalisation campaign was led and funded by BEE mining interests at a time when their mining shares were in steep decline. “Nationalisation” was, in fact, intended to bail-out these BEE interests at public expense.
The defenders of the Guptas ask: But what about white monopoly capital? The SACP has been the vanguard in taking on established monopoly capital. For instance, we have waged an intense struggle against Koos Bekker’s Naspers/Multichoice/Media24 empire. This massive media monopoly with its roots in apartheid capitalist accumulation, has actively sought to infiltrate ANC parliamentary study groups, key officials in regulatory departments, and the SABC itself. Naspers’ Multichoice has effectively captured the much delayed digital migration process and swallowed the SABC’s public mandate.
The Guptas may well be less gigantically wealthy than much of established monopoly capital in South Africa. But their “business model” is particularly venal and especially dangerous. Many of their business decisions make little sense, even from a conventional capitalist perspective. Their so-called “business model” is simply undiluted parasitism, targeting, in particular key state owned corporations like Eskom, Transnet, SAA and Denel, as well as blunting the professional capacity of Treasury and SARS. Wider, established monopoly capital is, indeed, our principal strategic opposition – but we cannot drive a sustainable transformational agenda against established monopoly capital, if our capacity within the state, and our unity within the ANC, have been contaminated by the Guptas.
Over and above all this, the SACP has, especially from 1999 when we launched our Red October Campaign, launched and waged major programmatic actions against capital but also in support of some of the key government programmes. In 2000 we launched one of the most successful mass campaign in the period after the 1994 democratic breakthrough, that of campaigning for the transformation of the financial sector. Many of the few comrades who are loudly defending the Guptas by asking what are we doing about established monopoly capital today were conspicuous by their absence in this titanic struggle for the transformation of the oligopolies of the financial sector.
Over and above the struggle for the transformation of the financial sector, we waged a prominent struggle for land and agrarian reform, including the necessity to radically transform the Land Bank. One of the most important achievements of this SACP-led struggle was the convening of the first ever Land Summit that reached overwhelming support to do away with the willing seller willing buyer practice of land reform.
It was the SACP that first raised concerns against the predatory behaviour of financial sharks in raiding the social grants through loans of all kinds and deductions. It was also the SACP that through its mass activism firmly placed on the agenda of our movement the urgent necessity for a National Health Insurance, and simultaneously exposed the hugely problematic role played by the private sector in our health system. The SACP was doing all his whilst some of our critics were nicely ensconced as investors in the private health care sector, reaping huge profits. That is why we can confidently say: “Neither the Ruperts, the Kebbles, the Bekkers, nor the Guptas. Our country – and the same goes for our movement – is not for sale.
In memory of Cde Chris Hani and Oliver Tambo we call upon all the workers and poor of our country to wage a relentless battle against corporate capture.
We call upon the workers and poor of our country to vote for the ANC overwhelmingly as the only guarantee that the ANC remains free, and is liberated, from corporate capture.
What is to be done?
Our country has achieved massive and commendable social progress since our 1994 democratic breakthrough. This we must celebrate and at all time as well as defend.
Nevertheless our country is still facing the systemic challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty, but also corruption, perceived or real, and the immediate threat of corporate capture of the state.
There is still more work that needs to be done to solve these problems, which are not new. In fact Comrade Chris joined the SACP to fight against not only inequality, unemployment and poverty but their material foundations in capitalist exploitation and its highest stage of imperialism. He would not approve of, or be complacent about the rise of corruption, corporate capture, greed and self-centredness.
The Hani Memorandum does deal with his disapproval of some of the related phenomena.
It must be seen part and parcel of our alliance’s shared perspective of a second, more radical phase of the national democratic revolution to deal with such problems, over and above radically tackling the triple challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty to the root of their systemic drivers. For the second radical phase of the national democratic revolution to succeed, we must deal corruption a decisive blow. We must bring down the threat of corporate capture.
The SACP calls upon, in the first instance, South African workers – who were at the forefront of the victory of the national liberation movement over the apartheid regime – to stand up and fight against corporate capture wherever it happens. Much as Cosatu, our ally, must be at the head of this but we call upon all worker federations and the totality of organised workers to confront, expose and defeat corporate capture.
As part of this struggle, the SACP calls upon the working class to intensify the struggle for the transformation of the financial sector so as to ensure that resources in this sector are invested in building the productive capacity of our economy. These financial resources must not only narrowly support the development of a black industrialist class but must broadly support industrialisation that includes SMMEs (Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises) and co-operatives and the training and production of a large corps of artisans and technicians that will drive the productive economy of our country.
The SACP is also concerned about the indebtedness of South Africa’ working and lower middle classes through amongst others omashonisa and other loan sharks. Similarly we are concerned about the high levels of bank repossessions of houses owned by these strata of our society.
It is for these reasons that the SACP is looking forward to the convening of the second financial sector summit to evaluate the contribution of the financial sector in the transformation of our economy to create a better life for all.
The SACP wishes to use this opportunity to announce that on 23 April we are, together with Cosatu, staging a march in Durban to launch our campaign to support decisive victory in the forthcoming local government elections scheduled to take place on 3 August. But as part of this campaign this mass action will also be aimed at confronting the scourge of attempts at corporate capture of our movement and government, as well as to fight for the transformation of the financial sector to support a social wage for the working class as well as for use of financial resources in support of job creation through investment in the productive sectors of our economy.
As the SACP we also want to reiterate what our Politburo said last Friday when it met a day after the Nkandla constitutional court judgement which received widespread public reaction. Decisive action is now imperative following the constitutional court judgement, otherwise the continuing loss of moral authority, political paralysis and fragmentation of our movement will continue. President Zuma’s apology and his undertaking to implement to the full the remedial actions proposed by the Public Protector are important beginnings towards self-correction on the movement.
The SACP welcomes the ANC decision to engage its structures in the wake of this judgement. The SACP will also be convening its own district councils to discuss these and other related matters in the coming weeks.
As the SACP we also wish to use this occasion to restate our strong opposition to the granting of parole for the assassin of Cde Chris Hani, Janus Waluz. We are not evil or unforgiving, all we want is for Waluz to tell the whole truth behind the murder of Cde Chris!
Let us all go and register for the forthcoming local government elections and vote for the ANC!
Let us be like Chris Hani and fight against all forms of corruption and corporate capture!
Issued by the SACP, 10 April 2016