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South African Communists Hail Nelson Mandela

SACP Official Tribute to Madiba as delivered by General Secretary Comrade Blade Nzimande

Blade Nzimande,

The South African Communist Party joins the millions of the people of South Africa, majority of whom the working class and poor, and the billions of the rest of the people the world over, in expressing our sincere condolences to Ms Graca Machel, the entire Mandela family, the ANC and our Alliance on the passing away and loss of what President Jacob Zuma correctly described as South Africa`s greatest son, our hero, a true revolutionary, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Tata Madiba.

We also wish to use this opportunity to express our solidarity with the African National Congress, an organisation that produced him and that he also served with distinction for most of his life, as well as all his colleagues and comrades in our broader liberation movement. As Tata Madiba said: "It is not the kings and generals that make history but the masses of the people, the workers, the peasants..."

Mandela was a revolutionary, not a saint!

The passing away of Cde Mandela marks an end to the life of one of the greatest revolutionaries of the 20th century, who fought for freedom and against all forms of oppression in both their countries and globally. As part of the masses that make history, Cde Mandela`s contribution in the struggle for freedom was located and steeled in the collective membership and leadership of our revolutionary national liberation movement as led by the ANC - for he was not an island. In Cde Mandela we had a brave and courageous soldier, patriot and internationalist who, to borrow from Che Guevara, was a true revolutionary guided by great feelings of love for his people, an outstanding feature of all genuine people`s revolutionaries.

In order to properly commemorate the life and struggles of Cde Madiba it is important that we also respect and honour the way in which he understood his own role and contribution in the liberation and reconstruction of our country. Cde Madiba always insisted that he was part of a collective and therefore his own contribution must not be subtracted or placed above the collective that he was part of. This is very important, so that as we remember Cde Madiba we also remember and honour the many leaders and comrades that he worked with: Lilian Ngoyi, Dora Tamana, Walter Sisulu, Moses Kotane, Yusuf Dadoo, Andrew Mlangeni, Govan Mbeki, Joe Slovo and many others.

Another important lesson to learn out of Madiba`s life is that his own personal popularity did not come to his head. Despite this, he never regarded himself as being above the organisations that he served. Madiba had all the qualities and respect to turn himself into a personality cult. He never did this, and it is therefore important that as we honour Madiba we commit ourselves to fight any attempts or traces towards a personality cult in our movement. As leaders and cadres we must aim to be always humble and serve our people with humility.

Cde Mandela always insisted that he was no saint, but a cadre of our movement who also, in the course of struggle made mistakes. Madiba occasionally used to admit to his own mistakes. A key feature of genuine revolutionaries is not to make mistakes, but the ability to timeously recognize and admit to those mistakes, and seek ways to correct them. All of us should learn from these profound insights and experiences.

Mandela and the SACP

At his arrest in August 1962, Nelson Mandela was not only a member of the then underground South African Communist Party, but was also a member of our Party`s Central Committee. To us as South African communists, Cde Mandela shall forever symbolize the monumental contribution of the SACP in our liberation struggle. The contribution of communists in the struggle to achieve the South African freedom has very few parallels in the history of our country. After his release from prison in 1990, Cde Madiba became a great and close friend of the communists till his last days.

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The story of Mandela and the SACP has got both personal and organisational dimensions. Mandela`s early history with the SACP in the late 1940s into the mid-1950s was that of hostility towards the SACP, like many other nationalist leaders of the time. But by the time of the Rivonia trial, Cde Madiba had had a different experience and relationship with the SACP, which he eloquently explained in his speech at the trial:

    `It is perhaps difficult for white South Africans, with an ingrained prejudice against communism, to understand why experienced African politicians so readily accept communists as their friends. But to us the reason is obvious... For many decades communists were the only political group in South Africa who were prepared to treat Africans as human beings and their equals; who were prepared to eat with us; talk with us, live with us, and work with us. They were the only political group which was prepared to work with the Africans for the attainment of political rights and a stake in society. Because of this, there are many Africans who, today, tend to equate freedom with communism...`

The relationship between the SACP and the ANC is further captured by Madiba in his message, as President and on behalf of the ANC to the SACP`s 9th Congress in Johannesburg in 1995:

    `It is not given to a leader of one political organisation in a country to sing praises to the virtues of another. But that is what I intend to do today. If anything, this signifies the unique relationship between the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party.

    It is a relationship that has detractors in abundance; a relationship that has its prolific obituary scribes. But it is a relationship that always disappoints these experts. Because it was tempered in struggle. It is written in the blood of many martyrs. And, today, it is reinforced by hard-won victory.

    Individuals and groups who profess to be democrats lose all rationality when gripped by the venom of anti-communism. We in the ANC are driven by a different logic.

    And we do not apologise for the fact that our alliance with the Party is also based on the warm sentiment of experience in struggle against apartheid. It is only natural that we should feel the welling of emotion, when we remember heroes and heroines of the calibre of Bram Fischer, Malume Kotane, Alex la Guma, JB Marks, Moses Mabhida, Yusuf Dadoo, Ruth First and others. Whatever seemingly powerful friends we might have today, the ANC cannot abandon those who shared the trials and tribulations of struggle with us.`

Cde Mandela refused throughout his prison life and thereafter to denounce or distance himself from the relationship between the ANC and SACP, even during difficult times like during the adoption of the policy of GEAR by the ANC government, a policy the SACP considered, and still does so, as inappropriate for our country. We shall forever cherish Madiba`s principled stance and commitment to the Alliance, even when faced with problems.

Mandela, our Tripartite Alliance and an overwhelming ANC electoral victory

The one major lesson we need to learn from Mandela and his generation of leaders was their commitment to principled unity within each of our Alliance formations as well as the unity of our Alliance as a whole and that of the entire mass democratic movement. Their generation struggled to build and cement the unity of our Alliance, and we therefore owe it to the memory of Cde Madiba to preserve the unity of our Alliance. Let those who do not understand the extent to which blood was spilt in pursuance of Alliance unity be reminded not to throw mud at the legacy and memory of the likes of Madiba by being reckless and gambling with the unity our Alliance.

The SACP respects Madiba`s commitment to our Alliance because he knew, from his own practical experience that our Alliance was built through struggle. His very statement in Rivonia emphasized the importance of our Alliance in taking forward our struggle. In memory of Cde Madiba and his legacy of commitment to our Alliance let us defend the unity of COSATU! A divided Cosatu can only serve the interests of the bosses. As a special recognition to the sacrifices of Madiba we call upon all union members under the banner of COSATU to defend the unity of the federation and all its affiliates! In honour of Cde Madiba let us also protect the unity of the ANC and the SACP! As a tribute to Cde Madiba let us defend and deepen the unity of our Alliance and expose the wedge drivers who want to divide and weaken our Alliance!

Cde Madiba always knew that it was only a united Alliance that was best placed to lead the effort of building a united, non-racial, non- sexist South Africa. Despite the many strides that we have made this task has not yet been achieved. It is therefore important that in his memory we preserve the unity of our Alliance in order to take forward the struggle of Cde Madiba.

In celebrating the life of Madiba we must all go out to build our organisations. An important part of building our organisations is that of consistently waging mass campaigns for the benefit of the workers and the poor of our country. We need to revive our Alliance `Know Your Neighbourhood Campaign`, as a permanent door to door campaign where we live.

The most important and immediate campaign that we should wage in honour of Cde Madiba is that of the 2014 Election campaign. There can be no better celebration of the life of Madiba than to win next years` elections with the ANC with an even bigger margin. The ANC electoral victories always made Cde Madiba happy. For Madiba, a life-long ANC cadre, let us go all out as the Alliance to campaign for an overwhelming ANC electoral victory in 2013. The ANC is the only organisation that is best capable of addressing the needs of the overwhelming majority of our people. Its record of governance speaks for itself, and that is why South Africa today is a much better place than it was in 1994!

National reconciliation and the struggle for political and economic equality

The SACP supported Madiba`s championing of national reconciliation and nation-building. But national reconciliation for him never meant avoiding tackling the class and other social inequalities in our society, as some would like to make us believe today. For Madiba, national reconciliation was a platform to pursue the objective of building a more egalitarian South African society free of the scourge of racism, patriarchy and gross inequalities. And true national reconciliation shall never be achieved in a society still characterized by the yawning gap of inequalities and capitalist exploitation.

The SACP condemns in the strongest terms the booing and disruptions that occurred at the FNB stadium on Tuesday, during the official memorial service of comrade Nelson Mandela. The booing was against the values that Madiba stood for, and was certainly not spontaneous but well-premeditated and orchestrated by an element aimed at embarrassing our President, our people and all decent South Africans. Their behavior was not only disgusting, but it was treacherous, counter-revolutionary and an insult to the dignity, sacrifices and the memory of Cde Nelson Mandela.

The SACP has called upon all its members and structures in Gauteng, to bring to the Party whatever information they might have about who was behind this despicable behavior, so that these elements are exposed, named and shamed. In particular we need to ensure that we get information of who the ring leaders behind this action were, so that they will also be exposed, named, shamed and be driven out of the ranks of our movement.

We call upon all our people to carry themselves with dignity for the rest of the mourning period, so that we give our hero a fitting send off.

In honour of this gallant fighter the SACP will intensify the struggle against all forms of inequality, including intensifying the struggle for socialism, as the only political and economic solution to the problems facing humanity.

For the SACP the passing away of Madiba must give all those South Africans who had not fully embraced a democratic South Africa, and who still in one way or the other hanker to the era of white domination, a second chance to come to terms with a democratic South Africa founded on the principle of majority rule.

We call upon all South Africans to emulate his example of selflessness, sacrifice, commitment and service to his people. Let`s make our own practical contribution towards nation building and a better South Africa:

Let us make sure our schools, FET colleges and our universities are functional!
Let us build safer communities by building community safety forums in our localities!
Let us build better localities by protecting our schools, our clinics and our community halls!
Let us do permanent door to door campaign in order to tackle problems in our communities!
Let us be like Madiba, let us not throw stones, but let everyone of us make a contribution to build a better South Africa!
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