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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Communists around the world mourn the death of South African Comrade Chris Matlhako

With statements from the SACP and parties in Greece, the Netherlands, Turkey, the USA, Britain and Kenya.

Photo via the CPUSA


Communists around the world are mourning the death on April 20 of famed South African Communist militant and internationalist Chris Matlhako.


In their statement the South African Communist Party (SACP) notes that:


Comrade Chris Matlhako served the SACP as a full-time Central Committee Member as elected by the SACP 15th National Congress held 13 – 16 July 2022. In this capacity, he served as Secretary for International Relations at the Party’s Headquarters in Johannesburg. Previously, he was the SACP 2nd Deputy General Secretary as elected by the 14th National Congress in 2017, and served as a Central Committee member before that tenure. He was also a member of the African National Congress and participated in the mass democratic movement as an activist and leader.
Comrade Chris Matlhako joined the South Africa liberation struggle as a student, actively participating in the student movement to fight against the apartheid system. He later joined the SACP and never shifted from the socialist course.

Condolences have poured in from Communist and workers' parties some of which we share here:




Dear comrades,


It is with great sorrow that we have learned of the passing of comrade Chris Matlhako, member of the PB of the CC and Secretary for International Relations of the SACP, a communist, a militant of the people who devoted his life to the struggle for the interests of the working class and the people in South Africa, an internationalist who contributed greatly to the effort to coordinate the action of the communist movement.


Comrade Chris had visited Greece many times to represent your Party at the International Meetings of Communist and Workers’ Parties, the meetings of the Working Group and our Party’s Congresses. In this framework, we developed close cooperation. The links between the KKE and the SACP were further strengthened. Solidarity with the struggle of the South African and the Greek people against the capitalist exploitative system, for the social emancipation of the working class, for socialism was strengthened.


With his death, the International Communist Movement and the International Anti-Imperialist, Pro-peace Movement, to which comrade Chris made a great contribution, lose a modest, consistent and tireless fighter.


On behalf of the CC of the KKE, please accept our sincere condolences on the loss of comrade Chris and pass them on to his family and relatives.


The struggle continues.


A luta continúa! Amandla!




Our sincere condolences on the passing of comrade Chris Matlhako, secretary for international relations of the South African Communist Party (SACP). He regularly represented the SACP at the International Meetings of Communist and Workers' Parties (IMCWP). We knew him as a devoted communist, committed to proletarian internationalism and the struggle of the working class for socialism.


Comrade Chris became involved in the student movement against the apartheid regime as a student. He joined the SACP and worked tirelessly for the emancipation of the South African working class. He was committed to the international struggle for peace and against imperialism. He served, for instance, as general secretary of the Friends of Cuba Association - South Africa (FOCUS-SA) and was involved in the South African Peace Initiative (SAPI) which is a member of the World Peace Council. He represented the South African Communist Party at numerous international meetings.


We wish his loved ones and comrades, the SACP and the South African working class, strength with this loss. His contribution to the struggles of the South African working class, the international communist movement and the anti-imperialist peace movement will continue to be an inspiration for the struggle against capitalist exploitation, for socialism.


International Commission of the CC of the NCPN



Dear Comrades,


Leadership of the South African Communist Party,


We are deeply sorry to hear that Comrade Chris "Che" Matlhako , passed away.

As the Secretary for International Affairs of the South African Communist Party and Central Committee member, Comrade Chris has fulfilled a very important role, not only for his own Party, but also for the international communist movement.


It has been an honour for us to welcome him in Türkiye on several occasions, including the International Meetings of Communist and Workers' Parties, as well as on numerous solidarity actions towards our work here.


We will always remember his wisdom, calm, constructive and hopeful attitude, his impressive speeches and interventions, stemming from his decades long experience in many fronts of the communist struggle. He has been a loyal and committed revolutionary all his life, leaving us with a very valuable example.


Allow me to express that our last and very open conversation with him, on the future of the international communist movement in Havana last October, will remain as a long-lasting memory of our friendship for myself.


On behalf of the Communist Party of Türkiye, we extend our condolences to his family, friends and comrades. His memory will remain alive, illuminating our struggle.


Comradely,


Kemal Okuyan

General Secretary

Communist Party of Türkiye




South African Communist Party


SACP dips its red flag and mourns the passing of Central Committee member Comrade Chris Matlhako (21 October 1964 – 20 April 2023)


20 April 2023


The South African Communist Party (SACP) conveys its message of deepest condolences to the family of Comrade Chris Matlhako, SACP 15th National Congress Central Committee member who served our Party and movement diligently.


Comrade Chris Matlhako passed away on Thursday morning, 20 April 2023.


The SACP also sends its message of condolences to the entire liberation movement which he served till he breathed his last, as well as the working-class across the world.


At the time of his passing, Comrade Chris Matlhako served the SACP as a full-time Central Committee Member as elected by the SACP 15th National Congress held 13 – 16 July 2022. In this capacity, he served as Secretary for International Relations at the Party’s Headquarters in Johannesburg. Previously, he was the SACP 2nd Deputy General Secretary as elected by the 14th National Congress in 2017, and served as a Central Committee member before that tenure. He was also a member of the African National Congress and participated in the mass democratic movement as an activist and leader.


Comrade Chris Matlhako joined the South Africa liberation struggle as a student, actively participating in the student movement to fight against the apartheid system. He later joined the SACP and never shifted from the socialist course.


An astute intellectual fully committed to the socialist cause, Comrade Chris penned many articles for various publications, local and international, on numerous subjects concerning the revolution. A collection of his articles published in various publications over the years was made available and serialised in the magazine Thinking Che, with the first volume appearing in 2019.


Comrade Chris Matlhako did not limit himself to serving the South African working-class, however. He also spread himself across the world, helping to raise the international struggle against imperialism and assiduously delivering the SACP’s message to various parts of the world. As part of his internationalist work, Comrade Chris served as the General-Secretary of the Friends of Cuba Society – South Africa (FOCUS-SA) and was also a member of the South African Peace Initiative, among other responsibilities. He also represented the Party in the Working Group of the International Communist and Workers Parties, directly contributing to shaping and sharpening the socialist voices across all lands.


In paying tribute to Comrade Chris Matlhako, the SACP will continue to tirelessly organise the working-class, galvanise the left forces in order to deepen the building of a socialist movement of the workers and the poor, as mandated by our 15th National Congress. In taking forward his work, the SACP calls for more revolutionaries to actively involve themselves in Marxist-Leninist intellectual work as well as working-class internationalism. The SACP calls upon young communists, as led by the Young Communist League of South Africa, whom Comrade Chris worked very hard to nurture, to preserve his legacy by organising the youth of our country to fight against imperialism, towards socialism.

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