Chris Hani, like Steve Biko, will never be forgotten...
Johannesburg - Saturday marked 28 years since the assassination of popular former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) commander and SACP leader Chris Hani by Polish hired gun Janusz Walus in a plot orchestrated by right-wing leader Clive Derby-Lewis, who has since died.
Hani was gunned down with a Z88 pistol outside his Dawn Park, Boksburg, home as he stepped out of his car from an errand.
An Afrikaner woman, a neighbour, raised the alarm, leading to the assassin’s arrest.
Typical of such heroic deaths, Hani – like Steve Bantu Biko – has not been forgotten. After numerous promises of parole, Walus still languishes in jail for this dastardly act, the heinous crime of removing a people’s leader from among them.
Just as Biko lives in people’s memories through his I Write What I Like philosophy of quotable quotes, there is a seminal Hani saying that has perhaps come to pass.
“What I fear is that the liberators emerge as elitists, who drive around in Mercedes-Benzes and use the resources of this country… to live in palaces and to gather riches,” Hani said during what the SACP can only say was an interview.
Corruption is now endemic. It is a free-for-all, especially among members of the ruling elite who, famously, “did not join the Struggle to be poor’.
They seem to contend, It’s Our Turn To Eat, to steal from the title of the book by Michela Wrong, telling ‘the story of a Kenyan whistle-blower’.
Dr Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, SACP Central Committee member, says: “Just look at the testimonies at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, you will see what Chris Hani said he feared could happen. Think about the R9billion that the testimonies revealed was ‘lost’ in ‘expenditure’, in assets, and in looting from just one state organ, the South African State Security Agency.
“To see the total picture about what Chris Hani said he feared could happen, think about the astronomical amounts of money, in millions, in tens of millions, in hundreds of millions, in billions of Rand and so on, that were ‘lost’, stolen from the people, and squandered from the industrial-scale looting under state capture and other forms of corruption”.
Mashilo adds: “Implicated individuals are not just moving around in luxury vehicles and wallowing in the proceeds of the industrial-scale looting in South Africa. They include those who fled in the face of re-activated law enforcement agencies looking for them to be held accountable.
“Before then, they appeared to have been benefiting from law enforcement agencies that seemed to have been turned into an indifferent mode, into turning a blind eye to the said looting.
“That section of implicated individuals disappeared from South Africa to destinations such as Dubai, where they are enjoying themselves while South Africa is short of development resources – by no small measure because of the industrial-scale looting under state capture. That is what Chris Hani feared could happen.
“The key question that revolutionaries should pose is how the former liberator referred to by Chris Hani embarked on a U-turn and allowed state capture, industrial-scale looting, and manipulation and abuse of power by unelected individuals to unfold.
“That spurious ‘radical economic transformation’ pushed our country back by many years. There is in fact another text from Chris Hani’s interviews, where he points out the imperative to hold authorities accountable, including through judicial processes.
“This remains important, in memory of Chris Hani. All those required to appear before judicial processes must do so. If they refuse, the law must take its course.”
“The struggle against colonialism and apartheid was not an initiative to enrich a few individuals, including through corrupt methods involving complicity by former liberators, on the one hand. It was not a struggle for the masses to be condemned to crisis-high unemployment, poverty, inequality, and life in underdeveloped townships, rural areas and squatter camps, on the other hand.
“The struggle was initiated to achieve liberation, social emancipation, transformation, development and a better life for all. This is what we must assert as we remember Chris Hani.”
Political analyst Ebrahim Fakir says: “You don’t need me to say anything… Social distance has been terminology in vogue in the ANC historically. The ANC itself says so in its ‘strategy & tactics’ document all the way back to 1997, when it sounds a warning – which it confirms is happening, two decades later in 2017.”
Pointing at these, Fakir says “everything secretaries-general reported since, has bemoaned precisely the same thing”.
Part of the ANC Strategy and Tactics, as amended at the 50th National Conference, December 1997, reads: “The occupation of positions of power by individuals from the black majority, and the material possibilities this offers, does create some “social distance” between these individuals and constituencies they represent.
“It should not be ruled out that this could render elements in the revolutionary movement progressively lethargic to the conditions of the poor. This is not a distant and theoretical possibility, but a danger always lurking as we pursue fundamental change from the vantage point of political office. Preventing it is not a small appendage to the tasks of the NDR. It is central to the all-round vigilance that we should continue to exercise.
“Examples abound, in many former colonies, of massive disparities in the distribution of wealth and income between the new elite and the mass of the people. In South Africa, this potential danger is made the more acute by the fact that, at the end of the day, this class permutation will in substance reflect previous racial disparities and gender inequality, with a coterie of mainly black men co-opted into the white courtyard of privilege.
“This will then be a continuing potential source of instability and insecurity for all of society, deriving from the same social grievances that underpinned the anti-apartheid struggle.”
Fakir points to a document that reads like an own goal: “Yet in this period, many negative tendencies have crept into the conduct of ANC members and leaders. Political incumbency has resulted in a situation in which public representatives of the motive forces are socially elevated from the mass of the people, thus creating ‘social distance’ between the leaders and their constituents.
“Incumbency also means access to powerful instruments of state and massive resources. This creates fertile ground for corruption and a vicious cycle of illicit mutual dependence between some private and public sector elites.
“These aberrations started off as exceptions requiring tactical interventions. Now, deviant conduct has become deeply entrenched; and arrogance, factionalism and corruption have been identified by large sections of society, including ANC supporters, as dominant tendencies within the movement.
“Gate-keeping, money politics and fraud characterise most ANC electoral processes. Underhand practices increasingly define interactions between various spheres of government and the private sector; and private interests seek to capture and control not only state organs, but also the ANC itself.”
Says Fakir: “But the ANC is guilty of enforcing ‘social distancing’ – even amongst communities – driving further wedges on the basis of identity cleavages or race and class. They campaigned on this platform in 2016 (and lost) in the major metros where they lost both – power and influence – over the drivers of growth and redistribution.
“But I think this is a problem in the political culture of the ANC. The leadership has always lived lives separate and separated from its members and other tiers of leadership. This is true of both the much-vaunted Mandela, and Tambo before him. Hani, at the pain of persecution, pointed to this tendency too, along with five others, in what is now known as the “Hani Memorandum,” Fakir concludes.