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By Lunga Simelane

Journalist


Scathing: Chris Hani’s widow blasts ANC

Limpho Hani condemns government shortcomings, urging a return to Hani's vision for a better South Africa.


With 2024 marking 31 years since the assassination of South African Communist Party (SACP) leader and struggle icon Chris Hani, his wife Limpho says the ANC government has failed him and the rest of South Africa.

The SACP, ANC and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) with the tripartite alliance’s supporters, gathered at the Thomas Titus Nkobi Memorial Park in Ekurhuleni to commemorate the life of Chris Hani yesterday.

Failures and lack of political will

His widow criticised many of the government’s failures and the lack of political will to address the country’s challenges such as load shedding.

She said her family knew Hani was willing to die for the cause he believed in and they accepted that because they loved him and the vision he had for South Africa.

“It was a shared family vision and desire. Today we hurt even more because it was not worth his life. It was not worth me being a widow. It was not worth my children being fatherless and his grandchildren not knowing him.

“Countless of our people have died for our so-called freedom. This is not what they had in mind as they laid down their lives.”

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She cited one of Hani’s quotes which she had found which said: “Comrades, you must not fear and try to suppress opposing political ideas, even if they come from opposing political opponents of other organisations. You must improve your level of debate, to expose bankruptcy of the ideas of your opponent without using violence and vulgar language.

“The use of labels and insults in a political debate shows poor political education. In fact, I doubt comrades who jump into labelling and insult if they are truly schooled in our liberation culture of debate and political education.”

Listen very carefully to what Hani said

Limpho said she wanted all those who were on the ground campaigning to listen very carefully to what her late husband had said.

“It’s important for all of us as a country. Now, 29 May, we should all go and vote for the political parties so that our democracy becomes strong.”

Chris Hani, born Martin Thembisile Hani, was the leader of the SACP and chief of staff of uMkhonto weSizwe, the armed wing of the ANC.

He was a fierce opponent of the apartheid government and was assassinated by Polish immigrant Janusz Walus on 10 April, 1993, during the unrest preceding the transition to democracy. His death brought SA to the brink of civil war.

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Limpho said she was also concerned that South Africans were not preserving the legacy of black people, especially in terms of the modification of the country’s historical narratives.

Understanding of SA’s struggle against apartheid

She referenced the renaming of the Sharpeville massacre to Human Rights Day among others, and questioned whether future generations would understand the importance of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said the ANC acknowledged her remarks and could not look at everything said by anyone as criticism.

“We have got to accept the truth. We know ourselves and that is why we are dealing – one with load shedding – and we are dealing with the challenges of water in the country.

“The question is where are we now? We are winning the war against load shedding in South Africa every day,” he said.

Mbalula said Hani’s widow had raised issues which were sharpening constructive criticism and “saying do these things right, the people will vote for you”.

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“She raised criticism in relation to who Chris was and what Chris stood for and why it is urgent that the ANC must preoccupy itself with these particular issues which were the issues that her husband… stood for,” he said.

Inquest into Hani’s death

SACP general secretary Solly Mapaila said the party had renewed its calls for the establishment of an inquest into the death of Chris Hani.

Mapaila said the party had already collected signatures in an online petition.

“This is one of the reasons we still want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

“It is for this same reason, among others, that we stood with the family until the end against every application that the assassins made for parole,” he said.