10th National Congress of SACP
Johannesburg, 1 July 1998
I am honoured and moved to receive this award from the SACP. I have joined good company in being a recipient of this honour – my comrade and friend, Walter Sisulu was the first recipient. And of course, being honoured in the name of Chris Hani makes this even more special.
This peace prize recognises the message that comrade Chris articulated at the time of his death, an objective to which he dedicated his life of struggle. The mark of great leaders is the ability to understand the context in which they are operating and act accordingly. As a brave and dedicated fighter for liberation, comrade Chris pursued the mission of our organisation which at all moments he participated in defining.
He did this as an ordinary cadre and soldier; as a political leader; as Chief of Staff of our military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe. At each turn he executed his duties with the discipline and foresight that is expected of a cadre of our movement. And when the moment arrived, he participated with the same energy and discipline in negotiations for a peaceful settlement in our country.
This is a lesson for all of us to live our lives by: that the ways in which we will achieve our goals are bound by context, changing with circumstances even while remaining steadfast in our commitment to our vision.
That was Chris Hani.
And it was because of that very vision, that passion to achieve in reality the ideal of equity and justice, that the enemies of change demonised Chris to the end, helping to create the climate in which our nation was robbed of one of its giants. The people of this country will never forget that day, nor will they be satisfied until the truth about his death is known.
This Award is also precious because it is bestowed by an organisation that has been a key part of the struggle for so many years.
Throughout our struggle for liberation, one of the many things that we learnt from the Communist Party was the importance of international solidarity; that no struggle could be waged effectively in isolation.
In building a new country, the same holds true. It is not possible to believe that the achievement of peace, justice and reconciliation in the confines of the borders of one country will be meaningful in the long-term.
South Africa’s concern with peace across the globe is not just a selfless one. It is in the deep interests of our country to ensure that the same principles of freedom and democracy that we hold to be true find resonance in other parts of the world.
It is only through working together, especially as countries of Africa and the South, that our voice is properly heard, our vision properly articulated.
And it is incumbent on us to redefine the parameters for more favourable conditions for developing nations.
This 10th Congress of the SACP comes at a critical time for us all in South Africa. It comes when the assault on our alliance has reached an all time high; it comes at a time when opposition forces are attacking our very existence; it comes at a time when in our own ranks, tactical differences are exaggerated into principled divisions.
The role of our alliance is as important as ever as we continue along the path of reconstruction and development along which we have started, in order to better the lives of our people, especially the poorest of poor South Africans.
But at the same time, the distinct identities of each and every component of the Alliance and MDM formations needs to be properly outlined. The delegates to this Congress must go back to their localities knowing precisely what makes a Party branch distinct from an ANC branch, from a SANCO branch, from a League branch, from a Cosatu local. The delegates of this congress must go away with a clear understanding of how we strengthen one another not only in theory, but in actual practice.
This 10th Congress comes at a time where a vision of and for the poor in the new Millennium needs to be programmatically defined. Left forces across the globe and in South Africa are watching with a deep sense of urgency and interest in the outcome of this Congress. It has implications for us all.
Chris Hani loved this Party. He loved its vision, he loved its commitment to the working class and the poor, he loved what it stood for. I was greatly dismayed when comrade Chris resigned from being chief of Staff of MK in order that he could serve at the helm of this organisation. We wanted him to stay on. But he listened to the voice of members of the Party and with humility, took up the post of general secretary.
May this Congress invoke Chris Hani’s spirit to lead us forward in revolutionary unity. Let this congress inspire the perspective of peace and equity across the nations of the world.
My acceptance of this Chris Hani Peace Award does not represent merely the celebration and acknowledgement of my own participation in the struggles of the people of South Africa.
Rather, I see it as an acknowledgment of all heroes of our struggle and as a challenge to all of us to continue to pursue the values and vision of peace in this country and, indeed, in countries across our globe.
I thank you.