Eric ‘Stalin’ Mtshali speaking about the crisis that plagued the country ahead of Human Rights Day. Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi/Independent Media
Johannesburg - Ahead of Human Rights Day, one of the few surviving members from the signing of the Freedom Charter has spoken out on issues plaguing the country.

Eric Mtshali, 84, better known in the political circles as “Stalin”, still remembers the fateful Sharpeville massacre on March 21, 1960, when apartheid police opened fire on a crowd, mostly blacks, who were demonstrating against the repressive apartheid laws. Sixty-nine people were killed.

Mtshali is seen as a torch bearer in the ANC, SACP and Cosatu alliance. He said a fitting tribute to Human Rights Day would be for the government to explain why the “country is in a state of crisis”.

He was referring to land issues, unemployment, free higher education, and pointed to the recent SA Security Agency saga.

“We should not be discussing whether our grants will be paid or not. It is our right. The state has enough money to pay the beneficiaries. This is disappointing, it means our country is failing to handle its finances. We should be moving forward to other pressing issues.”

Mtshali said human rights should be celebrated as an outcome of the Freedom Charter. He said human rights should be a symbol of internal resistance against any injustice.

He urged the government to act on the land issue and economic transformation as stated in the charter. “As a communist, I believe the wealth of this country should be shared. Capitalists are ‘boxing’ our wealth and it’s affecting mostly people on the ground level,” he said.

Mtshali criticised students for the destruction at universities, saying the government and the private sector should address unemployment, which he believed concerned youth.

Sunday Independent