SACP Official Tribute to Madiba as delivered by General Secretary Comrade Blade Nzimande Dec. 13, 2013, Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
“…the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love” (Che Guevara).
The South African Communist Party [SACP] joins the millions of the people of South Africa, majority of whom the working class and poor, and the billions of the rest of the people the world over, in expressing our sincere condolences to Ms Graca Machel, the entire Mandela family, the ANC and our Alliance on the passing away and loss of what President Jacob Zuma correctly described as South Africa`s greatest son, our hero, a true revolutionary, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Tata Madiba.
We also wish to use this opportunity to express our solidarity with the African National Congress, an organization that produced him and that he also served with distinction for most of his life, as well as all his colleagues and comrades in our broader liberation movement. As Tata Madiba said: “It is not the kings and generals that make history but the masses of the people, the workers, the peasants…” Mandela was a revolutionary, not a saint!
At his arrest in August 1962, Nelson Mandela was not only a member of the then underground South African Communist Party, but was also a member of our Party`s Central Committee. To us as South African communists, Comrade Mandela shall forever symbolize the monumental contribution of the SACP in our liberation struggle. The contribution of communists in the struggle to achieve the South African freedom has very few parallels in the history of our country.
After his release from prison in 1990, Comrade Madiba became a great and close friend of the communists till his last days. The story of Mandela and the SACP has got both personal and organizational dimensions. Mandela`s early history with the SACP in the late 1940s into the mid-1950s was that of hostility towards the SACP, like many other nationalist leaders of the time. But by the time of the Rivonia trial, Cde Madiba had had a different experience and relationship with the SACP, which he eloquently explained in his speech at the trial:
It is perhaps difficult for white South Africans, with an ingrained prejudice against communism, to understand why experienced African politicians so readily accept communists as their friends. But to us the reason is obvious… For many decades communists were the only political group in South Africa who were prepared to treat Africans as human beings and their equals; who were prepared to eat with us; talk with us, live with us, and work with us. They were the only political group which was prepared to work with the Africans for the attainment of political rights and a stake in society. Because of this, there are many Africans who, today, tend to equate freedom with communism…
The relationship between the SACP and the ANC is further captured by Madiba in his message, as President and on behalf of the ANC to the SACP`s 9th Congress in Johannesburg in 1995:
It is not given to a leader of one political organization in a country to sing praises to the virtues of another. But that is what I intend to do today. If anything, this signifies the unique relationship between the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party. It is a relationship that has detractors in abundance; a relationship that has its prolific obituary scribes. But it is a relationship that always disappoints these experts. Because it was tempered in struggle. It is written in the blood of many martyrs.
And, today, it is reinforced by hard-won victory. Individuals and groups who profess to be democrats lose all rationality when gripped by the venom of anti-communism. We in the ANC are driven by a different logic. And we do not apologize for the fact that our alliance with the Party is also based on the warm sentiment of experience in struggle against apartheid. It is only natural that we should feel the welling of emotion, when we remember heroes and heroines of the caliber of Bram Fischer, Malume Kotane, Alex la Guma, JB Marks, Moses Mabhida, Yusuf Dadoo, Ruth First and others. Whatever seemingly powerful friends we might have today, the ANC cannot abandon those who shared the trials and tribulations of struggle with us.
Comrade Mandela refused throughout his prison life and thereafter to denounce or distance himself from the relationship between the ANC and SACP, even during difficult times like during the adoption of the policy of GEAR [neoliberal “Growth Employment and Redistribution”] by the ANC government, a policy the SACP considered, and still does so, as inappropriate for our country. We shall forever cherish Madiba`s principled stance and commitment to the Alliance, even when faced with problems.