Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

The world has lost a great communist leader. Yet the world’s bourgeois politicians and media are celebrating the loss of a leader who greatly assisted in the destruction of the racist regime they once supported. The anti apartheid struggle became global, but for its endurance and ultimate success depended on many great and key leaders amongst the people of southern Africa, the Communist Party, trade unions and military wing of the ANC. The role of Cuba’s military support will never be forgotten either. Not should we forget the bravery of many British and other international supporters of the struggle who at key times when the forces in South Africa were depleted and imprisoned undertook important clandestine missions, some of which were celebrated recently in the book the London Recruits.

We do not forget either the many concerts which through music reached out to a younger generation to sing “Free, free, Nelson Mandela.” The bourgeois commentary on Nelson Mandela’s passing will over emphasise the role of the individual in history and will seek to forget and neutralise the great collective nature of the bitter armed struggle that alone made the eventual demolition of apartheid possible. We should not forget all those who fell in this, nor the many assassinations of leaders, Ruth First, Chris Hani and countless others.

Unsurprisingly, it is the South African Communist Party that provided one of the most apt obituaries to Mandela, reminding us that at the time of his arrest in 1962 he was not just a member of the Community Party but a member of its central Committee.  They remind us too of the extremely powerful concept of revolutionary love, a politics born out of a humane commitment to the people and their power. We print their words in full below:

“Last night 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, lost a true revolutionary, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Tata Madiba.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) joins the people of South Africa and the world in expressing its most sincere condolences to Ms Graca Machel and the entire Mandela family on the loss of what President Zuma correctly described as South Africa’s greatest son, Comrade Mandela. 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, 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…”

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.

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 symbolise 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.

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 of our Alliance.

The SACP supported Madiba’s championing of national reconciliation. 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.

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.”

The SACP says Hamba kahle Mkhonto!

Issued by SACP


Alex Mashilo – National Spokesperson
Mobile: 082 9200 308
Office: 011 339 3621
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