Durban - Those who fought to end apartheid should not use their legacy as “a licence to loot”, Transport Minister and South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande told mourners at the funeral of struggle stalwart Eric “Stalin” Mtshali on Sunday.
"As we say goodbye to comrade Mtshali, we need to remind ourselves that the fact that you were in the struggle against apartheid is not a licence that today you must use your position in the movement or the government to loot and enrich yourself,” Nzimande said at the Sugar Ray Xulu stadium in Clermont, near Pinetown in Durban.
Other speakers included former president Jacob Zuma and Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Mourners included Mtshali’s family members, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, Police Minister Bheki Cele, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize, KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu, and KwaZulu-Natal African National Congress chairman Sihle Zikalala.
Mtshali, 84, was a founding member of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (Sactu) and was part of the Umkhonto weSizwe leadership in what was then Natal. He was widely revered within the ANC and SACP.
Nzimande said Mtshali’s values had guided the struggle against apartheid and were not abandoned after apartheid ended. “Those values are even more necessary today; the values of selfless service to our people.”
Touching on Mtshali’s love of political education, Nzimande said that to solve one of the “problems” faced by the alliance, it should be remembered that organisations and alliances could not be united without being grounded in some sort of political knowledge or understanding. “We cannot take our revolution forward unless we have an educated cadreship,” he said.
“Mtshali was a disciplinarian who believed in democratic centralism. We need to remind ourselves this has kept our lives going. Decisions by higher structures are binding on all lower structures, but higher structures must consult with lower structures before they arrive at decisions,” said Nzimande.
Mtshali died at “a complicated period of our revolution”, a time of “huge challenges” and “persistent economic stagnation”, but alliance members should support the efforts being made by the government to revitalise the economy, particularly the resolutions of the jobs summit and upcoming investment summit, Nzimande said.
African News Agency (ANA)