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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Joe Slovo: Internationalist and Communist

South African Communist Party on the legacy and internationalism of Joe Slovo

Joe Slovo with Winnie Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Nelson Mandela


January 6 was the anniversary of the death of Joe Slovo, an iconic hero in the fight against Apartheid in South Africa. Slovo was the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party between 1984-1995, was chief of staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the African National Congress and served as Minister for Housing in Nelson Mandela's government until his death in 1995 due to cancer.


The SACP honours Slovo and his life every year. This year's statement highlights Slovo's internationalism as well as the continued legacy of this in the internationalism of the party now.



Soweto, Saturday, 6 January 2024


On this day in 1995, we lost a fine revolutionary, communist, strategist and tactician, an intellectual of note, and a soldier and commander of uMkhonto weSizwe, Joe Slovo. Slovo, who came to South Africa with his parents at nine from Lithuania, where he was born in 1926, denounced white privilege. He went to the Second World War in his youth to fight against fascism. When he returned at the end of the war in the mid-1940s, he went on, as a member of the Communist Party, to play a key role in the interrelated struggles for the liberation of the oppressed black majority and the complete emancipation of the working-class, regardless of race and gender, from capitalist exploitation.

Slovo was involved in major operations of our struggle and the drafting of its documents, including the Freedom Charter, adopted in 1955. When we achieved, through the struggle, our hard-won April 1994 democratic breakthrough, he served as the first minister responsible for the housing needs of our people.

Slovo attached great importance to the needs of the workers and poor, who the profit-driven capitalist market excludes from economic demand for houses. The capitalists do not care about people who are homeless. What they care about is whether there are people who have money to buy or rent the properties that they develop through the exploitation of workers in the construction sector.

As we remember Slovo, the internationalist, we pledge our solidarity with the Palestinian people against the bombardment of their homes, healthcare centres, infrastructure and land by the capitalist, apartheid Israeli settler state through its military. We support the Palestinians’ just struggle for the return of their entire expropriated land and national self-determination under conditions of freedom. Since its latest genocidal campaign on 7 October last year, the Israeli apartheid settler state has killed over 22 000 and wounded over 57 000 Palestinians, including children, women, journalists, and those it has paralysed. Through the indiscriminate bombardment and committing war crimes, the apartheid Israeli leaders have wiped off entire families of Palestinians in Gaza.

The SACP denounces the apartheid Israeli genocide of Palestinians in the strongest possible terms. We support efforts to hold the Israeli leaders accountable. Despite now having its judges from the legal fraternity, unlike in some past cases, the International Criminal Court has until now not held the apartheid Israeli regime leaders accountable. This confirms our reservations about the ICC. The jury is out on whether the ICC will continue to be on the side of the imperialist-backed forces in conflict situations and/or do nothing about Israel’s crimes against humanity. The SACP fully supports the step South Africa has taken – to file a case with the International Court of Justice – to hold the apartheid Israeli regime accountable....


International solidarity


We reiterate our solidarity with and express our support for the people of Swaziland struggling for democracy.

The SACP endorses the efforts for a truce in the Sudanese war, to foster a democratic transition and bring an end to all hostilities in Sudan.


We reiterate our solidarity with the people of Western Sahara against occupation by the Moroccan regime, which must end its occupation of Western Sahara unconditionally with immediate effect.

The SACP expresses its solidarity with the people of Syria against the foreign occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights by the Israeli apartheid regime backed by the imperialist regime of the United States.

We join revolutionary movements and governments worldwide in extending our congratulations to the government and people of Cuba on the 65th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, which occurred on 1 January 1959. The SACP further commends the resilience of the Cuban government and its people in defending their revolution. We reiterate our unwavering international solidarity with the government and people of Cuba against the criminal economic, financial, trade and investment blockade of Cuba, unilateral sanctions, and occupation of the Cuban territory of Guantanamo Bay by the imperialist regime of the United States.

We reiterate our solidarity with the people of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia against imperialist machination by the United States.


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