Eulogy to a fallen Comrade Eric "Stalin" Mtshali by Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister in the Presidency: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at Sugar Ray Stadium Claremont, Ethekwini
Programme Director and Minister for Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs Comrade Zweli Mkhize;
Former President Jacob Zuma;
Secretary General of the SACP, Comrade Blade Nzimande;
Honourable Cabinet Ministers;
Premier Willies Mchunu;
Chiefs and members of the National Defence Force;
Leadership of the Alliance;
Leaders of Political Parties
Mayors and Councillors
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Representatives and leaders of Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organisations;
Members of the Media;
We gather here today to bid our final farewell to a giant of our struggle. The "man of steel" Comrade Eric 'Stalin' Mtshali. His obituary has been read and it bares testimony to the fact that the history of our liberation struggle has been punctuated by his contributions for over the past six decades.
Sadly, as we celebrate his life we are reminded of what the Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ once said "In Africa, when an old man dies, a library burns to the ground". Indeed, comrade Stalin was a reservoir of knowledge and wisdom, our meetings, conferences and campaigns will never be the same. We will miss that distinctive touch only comrade Stalin could bring to any conversation, engagement or initiative.
Indeed, a giant has fallen. To paraphrase Seifuden Adem et al's edited tributes to Ali Mazrui; another baobab rooted on the principles and values of our glorious movement has been felled and the ground has been shaken. We walk tall and proud to be African, despite his unexpected departure for we know that we now stand on his and other heroes and heroines of our struggle.
Through his life journey we are able to see the road we have traversed and are able to let future generations to also learn and stand tall and proud to be African.
Comrade Stalin was born during the year in which 280 thousand white South Africans decided the fate and future of about 13million blacks (of which 11million were Africans) as a result of the 1933 'general' elections. Incidentally, 1933 was the first year in which white women fully participated in and election, after having received the franchise for the first time three years earlier.
Comrade Stalin came into an unjust and unequal. This is the world which required an early activism of him. Shaping and tempering him into the disciplined and humble 'man of steel'.
For comrade Stalin societal mobilisation and total emancipation of our people was the raison d'éntre for our liberation struggle. This, as we have heard motivated comrade Stalin to be politically conscious and active early in life by initially taking up various roles in the Claremont Rate Payers Association. From an early age comrade Stalin understood that the liberation of our people lies only in their hands and would require strong organisation to propel them into power and command of their destinies. Thus the Claremont Rate Payer's Association became an important mobilization frontier for the African National Congress, as it became a solid recruitment base for our movement's volunteers.
He was also an active internationalist trade unionist who cut his teeth at organising for the Dock and Harbour Workers' Union in Durban. He understood the imperative of international solidarity to unite the workers of the world in order to advance worker's struggle beyond national, cultural and racial boundaries.
From these vantage points comrade Stalin shaped his thinking and desire to pursue a socialist society wherein he dreamt and fought for a world wherein all the means of production, including land, belong to and are commanded by the people. It was during this time that his lifelong service to the Communist party was born.
Comrade Stalin was a well-rounded activist who was one of a few who were involved in all the facets and pillars of our Alliance and the National Democratic Revolution.
He had been a member of the Central Committee of the Party since the early 1970s serving the party selflessly for some six decades.
There was no task to small nor too huge for comrade Stalin.
We have heard how he became one of the first volunteers of Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK) and his willingness to possibly pay the ultimate price for his beliefs and convictions. We have heard of his involvement in many battles of our glorious people's army, including his being bestowed the great and historic honour, by comrade President OR, to assist the 'Luthuli Detachment', which was the first ever detachment of the MK. That detachment had undergone rigorous training and had the task of regenerating the damaged underground structures which had been destroyed in the aftermath of the death of Comrade President General iNkosi Albert Luthuli.
Comrade Stalin belongs to all of us and the world, on account of having also served the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) and also the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), as well as a Chief Representative for the ANC. He understood, as do all true Marxists, that the disorganisation of the working class is one of the fundamental cogs to their exploitation. Thus the call of the international "workers of the world unite". He also understood that in as much as the interests of the working class of the world were similar, those on our continent had special dimensions on the account of the type of dispossession and colonialism our people have suffered. Thus his focus in WFTU on mobilising and strengthening trade unions in Ethiopia, Sudan, Zambia, Tanzania and Morocco, amongst many others.
Comrade Stalin also internalised what Vladimir Lenin meant when he said "without a revolutionary theory there cannot be a revolutionary movement". Thus his pursuit for knowledge and his willingness to impart it to younger generations. His willingness to learn and teach made him a lifetime member of Ufasimba, the Young Communist League. Many a communicator and media activist tells of how comrade Stalin took his time to hone in their skills. He mastered the ability to balance both the military training as an accomplished cadre of the MK, and the ethos of "the pen is mightier than the sword. In living this ethos Comrade Stalin became the editor of the MK's The Dawn and the SACTU journal known as Workers Unity, amongst many other publications. Comrade Stalin was an avid reader and had great passion for our history as well as ideology. We must honour that passion. We must find ways to document our history and develop our own authentic African ideologies and solutions in his honour.
Ever the pragmatist even as he served in public office and in the benches of local and national legislatures he was ever ready to teach and remind us of the historic and current mission of the National Democratic Revolution.
The task of shaping our national democratic society greatly benefited from his vigour, enthusiasm and wisdom.
He was consistent in reminding us that the task of mobilising progressive motive forces towards a just and equal society is an objective in itself.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Comrade Stalin was a true revolutionary who was driven by a deep sense of love for his family and people. Indeed he lived by the words of one of my favourite revolutionaries Chè Guevara who once said "the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality." It is this revolutionary love for our people which should guide us, and not the advent of greed and money which seeks to serve self and destroy or kill our people.
If we lived by this ethos by which comrade Stalin lived by we would surely live behind a far better world than the one comrade Stalin and his comrades bequeathed to us.
Comrade Stalin was also an important feature and "choir master" as we put together the symphony and basket of services to improve the quality of life for our people. Humour was an effective tool in the hands of comrade Stalin and his steady guiding hand was an important feature as we took and implemented our resolutions to improve the social wage through housing, school feeding scheme, access to free health care, free basic electricity, social grants, and expanding infrastructure to rural areas and townships.
Ever on the side of principle and firm in his belief it was always near impossible to sway him, thus his nom de guerre 'Stalin'. And where one found oneself in the unfortunate position of being opposite to his position, he was ever ready to educate you on his position.
Comrade Stalin's presence was constant as we firmed up our resolve to further grow our economy and create jobs, as well as when we placed more focussed attention to small business development, black economic empowerment and growing the middle class.
Ever ready with the sharp class analysis, we often did not always fully appreciate this deep analysis.
At least, in living he did witness some of our appreciation of his contributions as we did when we renamed the eThekwini West Region of the SACP in his honour. Or as we offered him the SACP Moses Kotane Award enabling him to be a lifetime member of the Central Committee of the SACP. Even as we bestowed the Order of Mendi for Bravery in Silver to him, he remained embarrassed and humble, making it a point that we understood that this he did not do alone, but also in service and for the love for our people.
The baobab has indeed fallen; the ground is shaken.
Comrade Stalin, was a humble reservoir of knowledge of the struggles of our people and the practical solutions of the challenges they confront. Living by the mantra of unity he was deeply hurt by the advent of factionalism in our glorious movement. Being the embodiment of our alliance having served in the civic and labour movements as well as in the SACP and in the ANC, comrade Stalin was also deeply disturbed by the disunity he recently witnessed in the Alliance.
It is now upon us to pick up the spear and continue with the revitalisation of our movement so that we may be united in action towards securing a far better quality life for our people.
We owe it to the memory of comrade Stalin. We owe him a united and stronger organisation and country.
Lala Ngoxolo Commissar and Commander.
Go on and take your deserved place amongst our guiding stars.
Tell Mama Charlotte Maxeke, Mama Dorothy Nyembe, Mama Gxowa, Ma Sisulu and Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela that their League stands strong and fully donned in the black and green, at the forefront of our struggles for gender equality and in the fight against gender based violence. Tell them that they remain determined to bring victory to the masses of our people as they secure a better life for themselves.
Let comrades Anton Lembede, Tata Madiba and iNkosi Luthuli know that the youth of our country are determined to pursue knowledge and that as they regather, they remain strong in the pursuit of economic liberation and empowerment in their lifetime.
Report to comrades Delsey September, Emma Mashinini, Ray Alexander, Moses Kotane, Moses Mabhida, Chris Hani, Joe Slovo and John Gomomo that the alliance is rediscovering its harmony and through the People's Manifesto for 2019, it is developing an implementable and workable programme of action. The plan promises to strengthen accountability and delivery to our people so that we may assert the people's governance as envisaged by the Freedom Charter.
Arising to take your seat amongst the galaxy of our heroes and heroines of the struggle, raise your red as well as the black green and gold flags. Sing your favourite anthem the Internationale, and let that Summit know that the alliance is stronger and the workers of our continent and world and we are working harder to unite and defeating imperialism as well as injustice in the world.
Sis' Gcinile and the Mtshali family, we say akwehlanga lungehliyo, our deepest condolences. We must also thank you for having supported and having taken care of our dear comrade and this great son of the soil. Siyabonga.
Ma Lindi and Amanda, as well as the grandchildren and great grandchildren, here lies a soldier who was the centre of our earth and whom we are all proud of, we hope that you find solace in the knowledge that your fathers is the pride of the workers of the world. We owe him our victory, which would have been long delayed had it been not for his enormous contributions.
Comrade Stalin, lala ngoxolo Mkhonto. iNdima Yakho uyifezile!!!
May your revolutionary spirit continue to guide us!!!
Issued by: Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation