The Chris Hani Institute (CHI) was launched in 2003 by Pallo Jordan, Minister of Arts and Culture at the time. The CHI serves to promote the values and principles practised by Chris Hani and others in their struggle to serve the aspirations of ordinary working people and the poor in Southern Africa.
Eight days before Comrade Chris was assassinated in April 1993, he was interviewed by Luli Callinicos. In this unpublished interview, on the eve of the 1994 democratic election, he said that South Africa faced a “new enemy” and a “new struggle”. That enemy, he said, was socio-economic; it was about the struggle for jobs, houses, schools, so that we can build a society that cares.
What Comrade Chris was calling for was a culture of service. A culture where nurses are guided by an ethic of care, teachers by an ethic of learning, police by an ethic of community safety, and local government by an ethic of service delivery. The new enemy, he said, was corruption and “we in the party have been discussing how we should cut down on salaries of ministers, of parliamentarians, so that if you are in parliament in Cape Town, you actually rent a flat like everybody”.
Importantly, he said in this interview in 1993, that we must allow “the formation of many democratic formations in this country, organs of civil society, like the civics, independent trade unions, students’ organisations, teachers organisations, organisations of housewives , women, gays … so that we are kept reminded of the needs of the people on the ground”.
These are the ideas that will guide me as the Director of the CHI. This is how I will attempt to build the CHI as an independent think tank of the left on the 5th floor of COSATU House. Our aim will be to engage in the battle of ideas, to develop alternatives to neo-liberalism, deepen the links between progressive intellectuals in our universities and inside the democratic movement. Our research, educational work and public engagement will be from the perspective of working (and the workless) people, from the losers not the winners in post-apartheid South Africa.
Chris Hani Institute
To be an academy to provide education and training for selected youth, stewards and officials current and future
Chris Hani, 31 March 1993
I think, finally, the ANC will have to fight a new enemy. That enemy would be another struggle to make freedom and democracy worthwhile to ordinary South Africans. Our biggest enemy would be what we do in the field of socio-economic restructuring. Creation of jobs. Building of houses, schools, medical facilities, overhauling our education, eliminating illiteracy, building a society which cares, and fighting corruption and moving into the gravy train of using power, government position to enrich individuals. We must build a different culture in this country, different from Africa, different from the Nationalist Party. And that culture should be one of service to people. Some of us, especially we in the Party, have been discussing how we should cut down the salaries of Ministers, of parliamentarians and all the subsidies, so that if you are in parliament in Cape Town or Pretoria, you actually rent a flat like everybody. We are thinking in terms of a number of guidelines so that those people who go parliament or go into the government should be those who are prepared to serve the people, not because it is a way of enriching people. And I think the ANC therefore must now position itself to tackle the problems of grassroots people. And that is why the ANC must allow the formation of many democratic formations in this country, organs of civil society, like the civics, independent trade unions, students' organisations, teachers organisations, organisations of housewives, women, gays and everybody else, so that it is kept reminded of the need of the people on the ground.
WELCOME TO THE CHRIS HANI INSTITUTE
The website is home to the Institute that serves to institutionalize the memory of Chris Hani and other struggle heroes, but most importantly, as a monument to the aspirations of the ordinary working people and the poor in South Africa. One of the outstanding qualities of comrade Chris Hani was his ability to make socialist ideas accessible to the people.