'Don't bring ANC factional talk to my husband's event,' Limpho Hani tells alliance leader

But SACP boss Blade Nzimande fires salvo at those using MKMVA to fight factional battles

10 April 2021 - 14:53
Chris Hani’s widow, Limpho Hani
Chris Hani’s widow, Limpho Hani
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Chris Hani’s widow, Limpho, on Saturday had to plead with ANC alliance leaders not to politicise the occasion commemorating her husband’s death, warning this would cause further divisions.

She was referring to comments made earlier by Cosatu’s second deputy president, Louise Thipe, who said the union federation supported the 2017 Nasrec conference resolutions to have those in leadership implicated in corruption step aside from their positions immediately.

She was speaking at the 28th annual Chris Hani commemoration and wreath-laying ceremony which took place at the Thomas Titus Nkobi Memorial Park in Elsepark in Ekurhuleni.

The “step-aside” resolution has a direct impact on ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule who has until the end of April to step aside or face suspension.

The resolution has divided the ANC national executive committee and party members at large.

“I normally do not want to remark on speeches of people who spoke before me but I feel very strong about a statement made here about the step-aside (resolution). I am of the strong view that we are standing here and Chris was a unifier.

“I would suggest, let’s not bring the discussions from the NEC to this function. That’s my plea. Here we are united because we are all ANC. We should not have factions. Now if you bring NEC discussions when you are not part of the NEC, I think you are dividing us more.”

But Hani’s plea fell on deaf ears as SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, who spoke after her, fired a salvo at those using the name of uMkhonto weSizwe to bring about divisions in the ANC.

“We condemn very strongly the factionalist abuse of the name of Umkhonto we Sizwe. MK would never mobilise in support of some leaders against other leaders of the ANC or the alliance ... were it not because of the MK commanders and commissars, and some of the MK soldiers who helped us to build self defence units, we would not be having a free SA today”

He went on to say, “Don’t abuse the honour or the memory of uMkhonto weSizwe to pursue factionalist battles and want to project MK as if it was a private army of some leaders of the ANC and the alliance.”

Nzimande also condemned those who claimed to have information about the circumstances surrounding Hani’s death but failed to go to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

President Cyril Ramaphosa called on members of the tripartite alliance to embody the traditions displayed by the late SACP leader Chris Hani.

“Hani was not the kind of leader who threw reckless behaviour, ill-discipline and self-serving actions which divide his movement and polarise the nation. That was not Chris, he embodied revolutional qualities that we need in our leaders today,” he said.

Hani was shot dead while stepping out of his car on April 10 1993 outside his home in Dawnpark, Boksburg, by Polish national Janusz Walus.

The tripartite alliance — the SACP, ANC and Cosatu — used the occasion to present a united front, condemning factional battles facing the organisations.

Ramaphosa said Hani was not afraid to raise concerns about the state of his movement and the conduct of its leaders.

“He was able to clearly articulate the weaknesses in our strategy or the shortcomings in its implementation. He was always clear, forthright, honest and articulate. He did so precisely so that we can correct our errors and build the movement as a stronger more effective instrument of freedom for our people.”

Ramaphosa said Hani’s intention was not to divide the ANC, “but to unite it around a common understanding of the tasks of the moment and the actions that these tasks demand”.

For Hani, critical and honest debate was a necessary condition for unity, but also for organisation renewal, which was also a necessary condition for progress, said Ramaphosa.

“We must also do so not to divide the organisation or to demoralise our membership. We must also follow in the footsteps because this is what a revolutionary movement does to be able to be critical and honest about dealing with issues that beset it.”

Once there is a common understanding of what causes these problems, Ramaphosa said, concrete action must be taken. “But in doing so we must act together ... And today that this alliance that comrade Chris so dedicated his life to, we must always act together.”

Ramaphosa said Hani would have been the first to say the alliance needed to be honest with itself. “The ANC cannot fulfil its historic mission if it is divided, it has a responsibility to be united in itself but to unite society ... we can only advance the interest of the people of SA as a whole when the ANC itself and the alliance is united and working together.”

Speaking in her capacity as a former Umkhonto we Sizwe combatant, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said unity of the ANC was sacrosanct.

“Nation building is what should be uppermost in our minds and if there is no unity among ourselves, we will not be able to build this country. And in future, our children will spit on our graves.”

Maphisa-Nqakula pleaded in Hani's name: “Let’s try to work together and take this country forward. These divisions that we hear and read about will not help us build SA, I beg, for the sake of our generations, that we all commit ourselves to commit to the programme of comrade Chris.”

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