TRIBUTE TO COMRADE MOSES KOTANE ON HIS SEVENTIETH BIRTHDAY, JUNE 1975(4)

Moses Kotane was elected General Secretary of our Party in 1939, a post which he still occupies. There is perhaps no man who symbolises as much as he does all that is best in the glorious traditions of the South African working class and national movements.

Comrade Kotane's contribution has been a monumental one. Coming from peasant and labourer background, he joined the Communist Party at a time when it was still groping for an indigenous application of the universal truths of Marxism-Leninism. Almost completely self-educated, his profound insights into the basic needs of the oppressed and exploited people of our country won him immediate recognition and, within a short time, a place on the Central Committee. Comrade Kotane was soon to equip himself for his future leading role by a devotion to the study of the Marxist teachers which was to become the loadstar for all his subsequent approaches to our revolutionary struggles.

But for him books were not magic formulae; they had to be read and applied in the context of our own revolution and not abstract dogma. He immediately grasped the need to indigenise Marxism so as to give it meaning for millions of our workers and peasants. Comrade Kotane saw clearly that there could be no working class victory without Black liberation and no Black liberation without the destruction of capitalism in all its forms.

Comrade Kotane's whole political life was dedicated to a translation of the truths of Marxism-Leninism into the realm of practical politics. He threw himself body and soul into building and strengthening not only the Party but the organisation which represents the most oppressed section of the Black majority - the African National Congress.

His life is a true example of the consistency between proletarian internationalism and healthy nationalism. He spurned racialism in all its forms whether expressed in white arrogance or black chauvinism. Never hiding his dedication to the cause of communism, he also became a respected leader of the African National Congress because of his great contribution to the work of that organisation over many decades. His principled nationalism not only won him respect as an individual, but helped immeasurably to open the way for a growing collaboration between the Party he led and the national liberation movement.

The Communist Party's programme, The Road to South African Freedom, which was adopted at the sixth underground conference of the Party in 1962, bears the stamp of his contribution as a revolutionary activist.

Comrade Brian Bunting has written a biography of a man whose personal and political existence cannot be separated and whose life meaning cannot be grasped outside the context of the class and national movement he helped to mould. This book not only throws light on Comrade Kotane's own development as a revolutionary, but is also a valuable and richly documented contribution to the history of our Party and the liberation movement. Its publication in the year of Comrade Kotane's 70th birthday is a fitting tribute to his immense contribution as a Communist and as a fighter for national liberation.

June 1975


4 Introduction to Moses Kotane, South African Revolutionary by Brian Bunting