Tribute to the life and time of Cde Thembisile Chris Hani

The history of South African struggle for liberation of blacks in general but Africans in particular is characterised by many gloomy events. These events happened as a result of reaction towards colonialism and barbaric apartheid system.

Throughout the world, the struggle has been led by great women and men. These individual leaders some had an opportunity to look away and continue with their lives as if nothing was happening, because some were professionals that could have used their skills for their individual social mobility.

This was not the case for many of our liberation movement leaders. South Africa also possessed such leaders, whose consciousness was shaped by social and political conditions they found themselves in as black people.

Cde Martin Thembisile “Chris” Hani was one of those leaders who was shaped by material conditions of black communities. The perpetuation of inequality and inferior education imposed by the apartheid regime shaped and drove Chris Hani in a political struggle.

During his University years he took time to learn Marxist ideology. This was to be used to learn and analyse the South African conditions from social science point of view. His comprehension of the brutality of capitalism and apartheid channelled him to be a member of ANC YL in 1957. Chris Hani grew to hate tyranny and institutionalised oppression.

Through his involvement in student protests, he interacted with leadership of South African Congress of Trade Unions currently COSATU. This  exposed him to the struggles of workers.

Cde Hani was an embodiment of the tripartite alliance which brings together ANC, SACP and COSATU for a common purpose of achieving strategic objectives of the National Democratic Revolution.

We therefore owe it to Cde Chris Hani to ensure that we build a strong alliance which is resilient against neo-colonialism tendencies. These new tendencies include sowing divisions within the movement, the use of media and Non-Governmental Organisations to reverse the gains of the revolution. We therefore have the responsibility to ensure that the current contradictions in the alliance are resolved with the objective of ensuring that the progressive forces consolidate their hegemony in the society.

In dealing with challenges facing the alliance, the movement should do so without degenerating into personality cults. It is expected that living organisations such as ours, time and again will have different tactical postures in dealing with current societal challenges especially of eradicating inequality, poverty and patriarchy.

The influence of leaders such as JB Marks, Moses Kotoane, Bram Fischer and Ray Simons propelled Chris Hani to join SACP in 1961 and Umkhondo we Sizwe (MK) in 1962. Comrade Chris Hani could not escape prison like many other liberation struggle leaders. The apartheid system used prison to deter activists from their political work using various laws which includes Suppression of Communism Act and Terrorism Act.

These acts by the apartheid system did not deter Cde Hani from pursuing the agenda for the liberation of Africans. It is because of his perseverance and love for his people that he carried on despite imprisonment, harassment and eventually murder. Cde Chris Hani had love for his people and was approachable to even the lowest ranking MK member.

Comrade Chris Hani received military training and later became involved in battles during the Wankie Campaign as part of the Luthuli Detachment. Part of the progressive work done by Cde Hani was to assist ANC to establish underground units and communication systems.

He later went to Lesotho for a period of seven years were he continued to establish underground units of the Mk. Comrade Chris Hani returned to South Africa subsequently working in Lesotho and later Lusaka after the unbanning of the ANC and SACP on 2 February 1990 and worked with Cde Joe Slovo, the then General-Secretary of SACP.

After illness of Cde Joe Slovo in 1991, Cde Hani took over as the General-Secretary of the SACP.

Cde Chris was assassinated on the 10th of April 1993 by the right-wing extremist Januzs Walus, assisted by Clive Derby-Lewis. This period brought political volatility in the country and forced those that were bickering about multi-party negotiating forum to set a date for negotiations which brought about democracy we have today.

Comrade Hani did not live to realise the fruits of freedom he fought for almost his entire life. It is therefore up to us as a society keep his legacy alive.

The major task confronting the ANC today in honour of Cde Martin Thembisile “Chris” Hani is to ensure that radical socio-economic transformation is achieved which will include expropriation of land without compensation, creation of black industrialist, free education and creation of national democratic society in general.

In this year of unity, renewal and jobs, ethos demonstrated by leaders such as Mama Winnie Madikezila Mandela and Martin Thembisile Hani need to be implied. All cadres of the movement need to work together purposefully in order to build a strong and responsive ANC which will carry out the plight of the poor.


Lulama Titi-Odili, Acting Regional Secretary of ANC Mangaung region, Free State

Posted in Phambili
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