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Fierce anti-apartheid fighter Chris Hani will be remembered in South Africa this week at a time when the Africa National Congress faces its most serious internal divisions.
Born Martin Thembisile Hani, Chris Hani served as the leader of the South African Communist Party, and Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress and had to flee the country for his safety in the ‘60s.
He returned to South Africa in 1990, and was assassinated on 10th April 1993 by a Polish immigrant, Janusz Walus, using a gun provided by Clive Derby-Lewis. Both men were convicted of his murder.
After his assassination, the two sides of the post-Apartheid negotiation process were galvanized into action, and the parties soon agreed that democratic elections should take place on April 27, 1994, just over a year after his assassination.
Despite the convictions, his party continues to demand an inquest to truly examine the circumstances of his death.
“We will campaign through political action, and our 2017 commemoration of Comrade Hani’s murder will be dedicated to demanding the inquest,” stated the SACP in a report following a two-day meeting of the party’s central committee.
A champion for socialism
Chris Hani’s political activism saw him live a life of exile from the 60s, yet his speeches revealed a man aspiring for an egalitarian society. Excerpts from his speeches point to this guiding ethos.
“What we need in South Africa is for egos to be suppressed in favor of peace. We need to create a new breed of South Africans who love their country and love everybody, irrespective of their color.”
“Socialism is not about big concepts and heavy theory. Socialism is about decent shelter for those who are homeless. It is about water for those who have no safe drinking water. It is about health care, it is about a life of dignity for the old. It is about overcoming the huge divide between urban and rural areas. It is about a decent education for all our people. Socialism is about rolling back the tyranny of the market. As long as the economy is dominated by an unelected, privileged few, the case for socialism will exist.”
“We need to create the pathways to give hope to our youth that they can have the opportunity through education and hard work to escape the trap of poverty.”