Tribute by Cde Solly Mapaila, SACP 1st Deputy General Secretary
28 January 2018, Nelson Mandela Bay
The revolutionary all-rounder is no more: Hamba Kahle Mkhonto, Cde Boyce Melitafa
Long live the revolutionary course of the revolutionary!
On behalf of the Central Committee, Political Bureau and our Party's entire membership, I want to express our message of heartfelt condolences to the Melitafa family for the great loss caused by the passing of Cde Boyce Melitafa last year, 2017 during this period. As the SACP we share in the sore loss and mourn together with the family. We recognise however that the loss is weighing mountainously on the family, more than on any other person; for Cde Boyce Melitafa was a husband and a father. The SACP commends the family for the time our fallen comrade shared with our Party and movement for liberation and social emancipation as a whole. Cde Boyce was dedicated to the struggle.
Cde Boyce was our Party's District Chairperson. When he departed from the world of the living he was our District Secretary. He had a long, and reach history of involvement in the struggle for political liberation and socialism.
Without the achievement of socialism, the foundation for the realisation of complete social emancipation and a transition to a classless society without the exploitation of one person or group by another, human society, especially the working class, will continue to suffer capitalist exploitation and its related forms of social and political domination. This is the worldview we shared with Cde Boyce. It is the scientific fact that brought him closer and into the membership rank and file and leadership of our Party.
Cde Boyce stood for a society free from capitalist exploitation and its other forms of oppression and domination. As Karl Marx, the world's renowned working class theoretician and revolutionary succinctly put it, that is - "a community of free individuals, carrying on their work with the means of production in common, in which the labour power of all the different individuals is consciously applied as the combined labour power of the community". In honour of Cde Boyce, we must intensify the struggle for this free society he joined the struggle to achieve. What we achieved in 1994 when we dislodged the apartheid regime, rather freedom, was a breakthrough in the course of our continuing struggle towards the complete freedom that Cde Boyce dedicated his life to achieve. The struggle did not end in 1994 and still is not over. This is what Cde Boyce clearly understood when others proclaimed: "Free at last".
Cde Boyce understood that for so long as there is capitalist exploitation there will always be inequality. He understood that there will also be unemployment and poverty in varying extents. Cde Boyce understood that during some periods, such as periods of capitalist system crisis, unemployment will rise acutely because capitalists use such periods to retrench workers in big numbers. He understood that capitalists do not care about workers except for profit.
It is this understating, and the suffering that he experienced and saw our people endure under capitalism and its colonial regimes in South Africa, that motivated him to form trade unions in order to fight the battle against exploitation at the workplace. But Cde Boyce was an all-rounded cadre. He understood the principle, eloquently elaborated by Cde Joe Slovo - an outstanding leader of the congress movement, Chief of Staff of our joint SACP and ANC liberation army, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), our General Secretary and National Chairperson - when he said trade unions cannot burry their heads in the sand and turn a blind eye to state forms of oppression emanating from capitalism across the rest of society. Cde Boyce himself was prepared to lay down his whole life for freedom when he joined the MK as its operative and recruited many comrades to, like him, swell the ranks of the armed struggle. The trade union movement that he took part in forming and building clearly understood the principle articulated by Slovo.
Cde Boyce was one of the founder members of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (Sactwu), Cosatu's predecessor, and worked as its Organiser. Cde Boyce formed part of the founding of the Black and Allied Workers Union which became the South African Allied Workers Union. He was involved in the formation of the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), which he later served as its Organiser and Provincial Secretary.
One thing in common about this trade union activism is that it correctly struck a link between the workplace and broader community struggles and pioneered both. It is this activism that led to the apartheid regime, which had banned the Communist Party in 1950, to also ban Sactwu. It is Cde Boyce's activism that also saw him play an important role in the formation of the United Democratic Front in 1983. He was loyal the cause of freedom. It is this dedication of service to our people that led to his frequent detention from 1981 by the apartheid regime. He was very actively involved in the underground structures of our Party and the African National Congress (ANC), which was banned ten year after the banning of the Communist Party.
Post-994, he also served in Amathole District Municipality as the Portfolio Head of Engineering.
In honour of Cde Boyce, a champion of political education, we must deepen the training of our Party members to advance and defend the course of the second radical phase of our national democratic revolution towards socialism. And, equally important, political education in and by the Party is not meant exclusively for Party members. Our aim is to reach the masses of the workers and poor through well-trained Party members by means of targeted and mass political education buttressing mobilisation to intensify the struggle for freedom from economic exploitation, inequality and associated forms of marginalisation and domination. Party members should not be inward looking. They must spend more time engaging with, properly politicising and mobilising the masses of non-Party members to become consciously active in the struggle to overthrow the regime of capitalist exploitation as a condition to achieve a better life for all.
Let us recall the wise words of wisdom against capitalist exploiters by Marx when he said "material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses. Theory is capable of gripping the masses as soon as it demonstrates ad hominem, and it demonstrates ad hominem as soon as it becomes radical. To be radical is to grasp the root of the matter". This is why mass political education is equally important to the Communist Party as it is theoretically guided, that is revolutionary, practical action to achieve a better world. And, also important from the point just quoted from Marx's critique of Hegel's philosophy, is the definition of what it is to be radical. That is, to grasp the root of the matter, and, therefore, to proceed from, having gone to, the root. We are talking about Cde Boyce, which is why it is absolutely important to reflect, albeit briefly, on matters of theory.
To be radical is not to do the many wrong things that we have heard others push in the abused phrase of radical economic transformation. Neither is it to shield the wrongdoing that has been committed under the abuse of the phrase. This is why as the SACP we want the millions of money that were wrongfully paid to Brian Molefe at Eskom and to others as well to be paid back.
All the money and assets that were acquired as a result of improper conduct, as a result of unlawful behaviour, as a result of undue influence, as result of manipulation of processes, as a result of abuse of power or authority, as a result of state capture and other forms of corruption, must be seized and returned back to the state on behalf of the people as a whole. The money and assets must be used to redress the imbalances created by oppression and economic exploitation. In particular, working class communities must be the top priority. We must lift them out of poverty, starvation and underdevelopment. This must be the aim of all our development policies and corruption combating measures.
We have noted the terms of reference, released this week, of the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture. We are looking at the document and are waiting for the release of the commission's full regulations in order to produce a comprehensive perspective. But one thing is certain. The commission derives its establishment from, and must be guided by, the former Public Protector's state of capture report and must complete its work within 180 days or six months.
At the heart of the problem is the relationship between President Jacob Zuma and his friends, members of the Gupta family. It is widely believed that this relationship has brought about toxicity in our movement and government. And, the President's son is the Guptas' business partner. The Guptas have reportedly announced Cabinet and other important appointments before the President formally announced them. In the like manner they offered Cabinet positions in exchange of favours. Where did they get the information and the audacity to do so is as crucial as the widespread allegations of their self-enrichment from state owned enterprises and abuse of power or authority by those in the state and state entities that they command influence on. This rot is not justifiable.
The reason why we fought against colonial oppression and its apartheid state apparatus is exactly because we were opposed to corruption. We did not fight for parasites and those involved in their networks of patronage to repeat the same thing with the excuse that the pre-1994 state was captured. This is why we welcome the preservation orders against the money that was unduly paid from Eskom to McKinsey and Gupta-linked Trillian and from the Free State Provincial Department of Agriculture to Estina, the company that ran the Gupta-linked Vrede Diary Farm in Free State Province. The amounts that have been mentioned in these preservation orders are a small particle in the ocean compared to the total amount our state entities and the state as whole lost because of corporate capture. We therefore expect, and call on law enforcement agencies, to intensify the recovery and ensure successful prosecution.
In memory of Cde Boyce, we must deepen the battle against corporate capture and all other forms of corruption! We must intensify the struggle to end exploitation, unemployment, poverty and social insecurity! This is the pledge we are making as the SACP as we bid farewell to our fallen hero, a gallant fighter:
Hamba Kahle Mkhonto!