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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Chris Hani fighter for the workers & the poor

The assassination of our general secretary, comrade Chris Hani, shortly after loam on April 10, dealt a terrible blow to our party, to our movement, and to our country. Comrade Chris, as an individual, is irreplaceable. He had emerged in the past months, according even to the opinion polls of our opponents, as easily the second most popular politician in our country (after comrade Nelson Mandela, of course).

But the shots that killed comrade Chris, unwittingly mobilised a huge army of liberation across the face of our country. On Wednesday 14th and again on Monday 19th April, the day of the funeral, 4 million workers stayed away. These were the two largest stayaways in the history of our struggle. In addition to employed workers, millions of students and unemployed also observed the two days.

These were not just passive stayaways. An estimated 2,5 million people took part in thousands of pickets, rallies, marches and services throughout South Africa on Wednesday 14th April. The funeral itself, was the largest funeral in our country's history.

It was not just our immediate SACP and ANC-led alliance constituency that was mobilised. Tens of thousands of South Africans (and people all over the world) expressed their outrage at the killing. Church people, the Chief Rabbi, Islamic and Hindu religious figures stood up publicly to condemn the assassination, and even, on many occasions, to express their solidarity with Chris Hani's ideals. Even the apartheid embassy in Washington flew its flag at half-mast. On death-row in Pretoria Central, prisoners pooled their meagreallowances to raise R750 to be sent to the Hani familycomrade Chris was an outspoken opponent of capital punishment.

Let no-one forget that this country-wide and international outpouring of outrage and sorrow was for a fallen Communist Party leader in the year 1993.

Just three and four years ago, our opponents were confidently proclaiming the "final demise of communism". In life, as in death, Chris Hani has proved them absolutely wrong.

But comrade Chris would also have been the first to insist that it was not just any communism that deserved to live. For him, communism was not the affair of a theoretical elite. It was a cause to be fought for in the heart of a broad mass movement. Communism, for him, meant, above all, simple but noble things like:

. jobs for the jobless;

. homes for the homeless;

. a living wage for the workers;

. land for the landless;

. hope for the youth;

. a life of dignity for the old;

. free health care and relevant and free education for us all.

Communism meant an end to the exploitation of the many by the few.

As an individual, Chris Hani is irreplaceable.

Our answer to the assassination has been, and must continue to be, collective, mass-based and grass-rooted.



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