Kallie Hanekom: Message from the ANC Veterans’ League

I bring you, celebrants of Comrade Kallie’s amazing life, warm greetings from the ANC Veterans League. I was also specifically requested to convey greetings from Comrade Popo Molefe. Tomorrow, the UDF celebrates the 40th anniversary of its memorable founding on 20 August 1983.

I did not have the privilege of knowing Kallie personally. By all accounts, he was a remarkable, down-to-earth person who happened to be also a very funny  person. It seems  he was a democrat to boot.

I really liked what Karen Weissenssee said in her WhatsApp posting on a platform created for Kallie’s friends who wished to bid him their last farewells: “I am sad to not [be able to] drink coffee with him again, as he reorganises the table, engages warmly with the waiters and other regulars and peruses all the papers available, leaping from subject to subject in his talk.” Karen observes that Kallie’s determination to receive his terminal health care at a State hospital speaks to his commitment to equality. It’s obviously a choice he will have made quite early in his life. I particularly love this cogent observation by Karen: “He used to say that with small children, if you do something three times it becomes a game.” In the same WhatsApp group, well-known musician Sipho Hotstix Mabuse said if he didn’t know Kallie before, he now knew him. I feel the same.

Fatima Meer, who died in 2010 – she’s in perfect peace now – had this to say, and I’ll quote her at length: ”We have to be in the process of perpetual revolution to progress and guarantee the rights of people. There can be no peacetime so long as there is poverty and hunger and so long as basic human rights are trodden.

“The cause of rampant crime in our country is inequality. We are the second most unequal country in the world. More than half the population lives in poverty. Can we call this living in peace? The definition of peace is equity, harmony, not starvation. I believe we need to strengthen the numerous community based organisations in our country and increase the voices of civil society”.

Kallie departs when the situation in the country has considerably worsened. Not only have we attained the worst gini coefficient on Planet Earth, at a score of 63, the lights in our neighbourhoods and industrial areas have also literally dimmed, and the energy that drives the economy has been sapped. With that, many businesses have collapsed, joblessness skyrocketed, and living standards plummeted. Kallie leaves us when criminality rules the roost, having found its way into the innards of the party of liberation, the party that runs government. It is the party to which many people assembled here today belong. It’s the party under whose banner I have walked for 65 years of my life. In fact, I was born into this party, once glorious. When it was looked after by my forbears, this party charted the Freedom Charter. Their prescience helped them look past skin pigmentation to find a democrat – and where one existed, they embraced him.

Ah, but my generation is at fault! We forgot to tell today’s young people about the moment in history when in 1947 the Three Doctors’ Pact was signed by Drs A B Xuma, President of the ANC; Monty Naicker President of the Natal Indian Congress; and Yusuf Dadoo, President of the Transvaal Indian Congress. The three stood together and formed an epochal pact that is considered to have played a major role in the liberation struggle.

How much do modern chauvinists know about Basil February who died in his boots during the 1967 Wankie (Hwange) Campaign fighting under the MK flag? Does the bumbling ignoramus who once talked about the existence of an oversupply of certain of our fellow citizens in the Western Cape know about the Trojan Horse massacre? When on October 15, 1985, apartheid forces and the Railway Police shot and killed three protesting students: Jonathan Claasen, 21, Shaun Magmoed, 15, and Michael Miranda,11, while injuring several others? Who in the ANC even bothered to chide him, to say nothing about putting him through a short “mrhabulo” session for some political education? That this pitiful individual was later to become the spokesperson of a former ANC President’s foundation speaks to the depth of our political descent. Apartheid murderers killed Dulcie September, who was at the time ANC representative in Paris. Increasingly of late, people who look like her are not readily found in the rarefied echelons of our political edifice.

Ruth First, killed 38 years ago yesterday; Jeanette and daughter Katryn – these three women were killed in bomb explosions in Mozambique and Angola, respectively. Citizens of these countries made supreme sacrifices to support our liberation struggle. When they come to our shores in search of  elusive work opportunities, a bit of tolerance on our part would not be out of place. I invite the decent human
beings assembled here today to pause for a moment and think about Katryn and Marius Schoon’s son, Fritz, who survived the massacre when he was only a toddler, and never fully recovered from the trauma of seeing his mother and sister murdered before his eyes. As a direct consequence, he developed epilepsy. These and hundreds of other fellow citizens met the same fate that befell thousands of their darker-hued compatriots at the hands of assassins. Many of these monsters by the way, continue to walk the streets of a liberated South Africa. O Tempora! O mores!

While we are at it, let’s review the vexed subject of the demographic classifications we inherited from the odious architects of apartheid. We need to find alternative descriptors to classify historically disadvantaged citizens who continue to need financial or economic support from the state. The apartheid system discriminated against all black people even though its most vicious laws were reserved for the indigenous majority it contemptuously referred to as ‘the Bantu’. From their sheer numbers, and indeed based on the scale of their oppression, it goes without saying that the group the apartheid system preferred to call ‘the Bantu’ suffered the worst depredations of apartheid legislation. However, in dealing with the consequences of this legislation, it is important that the democratic state does not inadvertently apply reverse discrimination. Citizens who are homeless, live in slums, and dwell on pavements, must be prioritised strictly  – and only -on the basis of the acuteness of their predicament, regardless of the gradings the apartheid laws applied in their classification.

In redressing these apartheid-ordained imbalances, it would also be unconscionable in the democratic era to restrict or limit any individual’s opportunities for advancement in job, business, academic or other pursuits in the sphere of human endeavour, by applying criteria that are, effectively, not dissimilar to apartheid ones.

There is an area, though, where we face absolutely no risk of committing a discriminatory injustice. This is in fast-tracking the exorcising of gender-based prejudices. Too numerous to list here, they stubbornly persist in all cultures, even among privileged classes. Testosterone may have played a vital role in providing primordial-era security when males used muscle power to defend families and communities from invaders and for the performance of chores necessary for group survival. Human progression in the 21st century is singularly dependent on a well-calibrated brain, and infinitely less on brawn. Time is thus long overdue for paternalism to make room for the new order.      

Now to the resurgent xenophobic frenzy that is threatening to engulf the nation; that seeks to blame the ills currently afflicting our country on immigrants, especially those from the African continent. Some of them are in the country legally, while others are undocumented and live here illegally. What we to fail to recognise is that, were it not for the fact that our public service system is riddled with corruption, there would be no holders of falsified identity documents, birth and marriage certificates, illegally issued driving licences, misallocated houses, business licences, the lot.

Unfortunately, the scourge of corruption is not confined to the public sector. As a matter of fact, the bask of corrupters-in-chief is resident in the private sector. Had it not been for corporate greed, there would have been hardly any state capture worth talking about.  Goodness only knows why it took so long for the banks to close down the Guptas’ bank accounts when so many suspicious transactions took place over an extended period of time. Global consulting firms were also in on the act. The South African branch of McKinsey Company was charged in a corruption scandal involving Transnet. Consultancy firm Bain & Company was banned by National Treasury from doing business with the state for ten years for its role in alleged corrupt practices in the country. KPMG was accused of facilitating tax evasion and corruption by the Gupta family during the 15 years it audited its books. And so on, ad nauseam. Please do accept my apologies for this digression, but these truths do not receive they exposure they deserve, considering their impact on the economy.

To conclude the narration on our xenophobic obsession, someone thought it was funny to  call Kallie’s son a foreigner because he was born in Zimbabwe when his father was in exile there. We can froth at the mouth about foreigners in our midst. But we cannot continue addressing symptoms and avoiding to tackle the root causes of the massive unemployment that plagues the country. If some foreigners are involved in acts of criminality, as they surely are, our own home-grown criminals and their syndicates are legion.

South Africa and its Southern African Development Community partners have no alternative but to find workable strategies for managing population movement in the region, strategies that will be beneficial to all. Short of this, South Africa as the regional economic power, will continue to be the magnet that attracts streams of people in search of opportunities that are scarce in their countries. Vigilantism and anger will not stem this flow. Donald Trump discovered what many intelligent people already knew, namely, that building a high wall along the United States border with Mexico would not stem the flow of migrants form less developed Latin American countries. Perish such a thought for South Africa.

Working towards the creation of job opportunities in migrant- supplier countries and promoting and expanding intra-African trade are some of the measures that have to be seriously examined. The other day the President alluded to the possibility of building the capacity of the Inga dam which is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has the potential to provide clean and affordable hydroelectric power to all sub-Saharan countries. There is scope for much more to be done. Unless SADC and Africa as a whole start this process in earnest, the unhelpful acrimony will continue. 

Africa remains a minnow in global trade terms despite its vast human and natural resources. Given its strategic geographical location, well-developed logistics and transport infrastructure, its financial institutions, communication infrastructure, South Africa stands to benefit enormously from the adoption of progressive, pro-African policies, including enlightened migration policies.



Before I sit down, a quick comment on the recently announced ‘Moon-shot coalition of losers,’ something like that.  Oliver Tambo is often cited as having observed that no political party could defeat the ANC, except the ANC itself, which is where are. We are currently  witnessing the spectacle of a party of yesteryear’s apartheid practitioners, sympathisers, and beneficiaries banding together with some mafikizolo democrats, some of them led by not-very-young people.

The ‘Moon-shot’ leading party is in thought, word and deed, shown itself to be incapable of appreciating the setbacks experienced by a people who for three centuries suffered the indignity and humiliation of colonial oppression, followed by close to five decades of abuse by settler colonialists of European origin, whose system of government was declared “a crime against humanity” by the United Nations. In combination, these white settler regimes excluded indigenous people from participating in economic development and denied them the exercise of political rights, all because they were African. This party believe, if it does, that banding together with other, five percent parties,  will take it past the 50 percent popular-vote threshold needed to govern the country! We must be truly back to the future?


Yet, and yet. An ANC leadership that is not averse to cohabiting with the venal and depraved may yet hand this march to the past a pass. Ironically, the withering findings of the Zondo Commission report has given the ANC an invaluable reprieve, if it grabs it. The  commission recommended that some 50-plus ANC members should be referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution, others for further investigation by the police.

If, even at this late hour, the National Executive Committee of the ANC were to decide that no one, but no one on this list will be eligible for election in the 2024 National and Provincial elections, the electorate would by a respectable majority, give the ANC’s fielded but untainted candidates a chance to properly govern the country.

One more thing.  Public transport users, meaning the vast majority of the population, would be over the moon if cabinet were to instruct its portfolio minister to produce and publish a costed, time-bound plan to restore PRASA to full operational capacity. I am sure they would be willing to wait two years for this. The recent weeklong SANTACO strike in Cape Town amply demonstrated how the collapse of PRASA has subjected workers, learners, and many other public transport users to unbearable experiences.  Public transport users are collateral victims of state-company corruption. They deserve an affordable, safe and convenient commuter service. So, it’s over to ‘the leadership’, as comrades are wont to say.


Kallie, gone but never to be forgotten by all who were enriched by sharing your life, in unison, we all say: HAMBA KAHLE MKHONTO!