THE EDITORIAL | Chris Hani was an epitome of integrity

Chris Hani.
Chris Hani.
Image: Tim Zielenbach

Yesterday, marked the 26th anniversary of Struggle hero and SA Communist Party (SACP) leader Chris Hani's assassination.

Given his popularity at the time of his death and the manner in which he was killed, it is no surprise that South Africans continue to commemorate the day - more than a quarter of a century later.

As it has become custom, the parties he dedicated his life to - the SACP and the ANC - marked the day by visiting his grave in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, yesterday.

The wreath-laying ceremony has become an important event in the political calender of the ruling alliance over the years, sometimes even being turned into a site of political contestation between various factions (of the tripartite alliance).

It was a much more dignified affair yesterday, partly because the ANC and its allies are in the middle of an election campaign and need to maintain maximum unity if they are to do well at the polls next month.

However, we wonder if those who were at the cemetery, as well as many others who were not there but claim to be true to the ideals Hani stood for, spent a moment to reflect on the man's life and its implications for their current actions and omissions.

We don't claim to know what kind of a leader Hani would have turned out to be had he lived long enough to see freedom. What we can comment on are the values associated with the man when he was alive.

Hani was easily the second-most popular ANC leader, after Nelson Mandela, as the party prepared to take over government in the early 1990s. He could have positioned himself for a cabinet post or taken over as one of the senior generals in the army if he wanted to.

But, due to his conviction, Hani chose to stay behind and build party structures on a full-time basis as SACP general secretary.

They don't make politicians of that calibre any more. These days politicians, especially from the parties Hani served, believe they have a God-given right to be in parliament and of being ministers.

Even when they are implicated in cases of corruption, they hold on to their public offices to the detriment of public institutions.

This generation of politicians should be ashamed to call themselves Hani's comrades.

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