Irvin Jim says SACP leader was ready to fight to the end, in order to gain true freedom
NUMSA remembers comrade Chris Hani
April 10, 2018
On April 10, 1993, Chris Hani was assassinated for his unwavering commitment to the total liberation of workers from the chains of capitalist exploitation.
“Nithi sixole kanjani amabhunu abulale uChris Hani?”
Ayangcangazela amabhunu abulale uChris Hani â
[How do you expect us to be at peace when the Boers have killed Chris Hani?
The Boers who killed Chris Hani are trembling.]
The revolutionary cry of this popular wrestling song is as clear today as it was then: The white supremacist capitalist system cannot expect the historically oppressed workers and poor to be at peace as they continue to attack the revolutionary socialist project and eliminate the principled leaders who are guiding this struggle.. Comrade Hani was brutally murdered for defending this freedom through a revolutionary construction of a socialist society led by workers.
The assassination of Hani was an outright brutal attack on the formations of the working class, which questioned the maintenance of a capitalist system, during the negotiated settlement of the early 1990s in South Africa. Hani gave generations of working class fighters the inspiration and courage to create revolutionary practices and formations that would shake the oppressors in power.
Born in rural Cofimbva in the old Transkei, Hani, who was born Martin Thembisile, grew up under the same conditions of oppression and impoverishment as most working class Africans across the colonized continent. The capitalist system forced his father, Gilbert, to leave the impoverished family home and join the reserves of black migrant workers who had to sell their labor cheaply in urban centers. His mother Mary, like most African mothers then and today, had to keep the household together by supplementing the household income with small subsistence farming.
During his high school years in his mid-teens, the apartheid regime introduced Bantu education. It was at this point that Hani began to develop his political awareness of the system of white supremacy and capitalist apartheid. Realizing that Bantu education was designed to indoctrinate black students to accept white supremacy and black exploitation, this triggered his lifelong involvement in revolutionary struggle.
At Fort Hare University, Hani’s commitment to revolutionary thought was radically deepened by his exposure to the work of German revolutionary Karl Marx:
âI was exposed to Marxist ideas and the scope and nature of the racist capitalist system. My conversion to Marxism deepened my non-racial perspective. (Biographical note SACP 1991Hani, February 1991)
Using the Marxist method of historical materialist inquiry allowed him to unveil the correlation of forces that revealed the racist and class oppression and exploitation of the capitalist system as the fundamental antagonisms of our time. Hani worked tirelessly to reveal the unequal and exploitative economic conditions that gave way to ruthless and oppressive political powers in order to fundamentally change the way society used to be.
While Hani had been a member of the African National Congress Youth League since 1957, his Marxist training allowed him to reconsider the limits of a nationalist liberation project:
âIn 1961, I joined the Underground South African Communist Party realizing that national liberation, while essential, would not lead to total economic liberation. My decision to join the Party was influenced by greats in our struggle like Govan Mbeki, Braam Fischer, JB Marks, Moses Kotane, Ray Simons, etc. (Hani, February 1991)
Inspired by these Communist leaders, Hani became a card-carrying Communist and began to fight for a classless society free from exploitation and all forms of oppression. While he might have found opportunities to study abroad upon graduation from university, in 1962, Hani felt it was his duty to join the revolutionary armed struggles as a key leader of Umkhonto. we Sizwe (MK). Hani realized that there was a real need to take up arms to challenge the supremacy of the apartheid state which was maintained by its monopoly on armed force.
As an internationalist who understood that the global nature of capitalism necessarily binds us to solidarity and struggle with all oppressed nations, Hani has participated in multiple formations and military operations, notably in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia. and briefly in South Africa and Lesotho.
Although he understands the foundations of the armed revolutionary struggle and leads it, he has never undermined the multiple spheres in which the struggle must be waged:
The armed struggle, which we have never considered exclusive because we have combined it with other forms of struggle, has provoked the current apartheid crisis. (Hani, February 1991)
Hani was a beacon of hope for the oppressed people, not only in South Africa but on the African continent, and even around the world. He established himself as a true revolutionary of the working class and of the poor at a time when the leadership of the mass democratic movement had abandoned the vision of a just, classless and socialist society. It is this conviction that forced him, at the risk of attracting the ultimate punishment for “treason”, to write, with others, the most open criticism of the ANC in exile.
It’s an open secret that Hani did not support the sold-out negotiated settlement. He was ready to fight to the end to gain true freedom. It was in fact this conviction that made his revolutionary association with Comrade Winnie Madikizela-Mandela such a frightening and deadly combination for the apartheid regime and all those right-wing ANC people leading the negotiations. Comrade Winnie, like Hani, wanted to fight to the end. His assassination amounted to the assassination of socialist values ââand principles and a just and revolutionary socialist transition from the apartheid system in South Africa.
The work of Chris Hani and the message of the struggle song we sing in memory of him calls for the cry of our revolutionary ancestors, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels when they said:
âThe Communists disdain to conceal their opinions and their goals. They openly declare that their ends can only be achieved through the forced overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble in the face of a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of all countries, unite! (Marx and Engels, 1848)
To honor the legacy of our comrade Chris Hani, our songs must be manifested in strike action, energizing our protests at the heart of the struggle within a united labor movement. For it is only in united revolutionary action which cuts through the heart of capitalist production that the ruling classes will tremble, as we create the Socialist Society for which Comrade Hani died.
To continue the fight and realize the dream of Comrade Hani and Winnie Madikizela, we invite the working class to join us as we build the Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party!
The struggle continues !
Statement issued by Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary, April 10, 2018