”The Duty of a Communist in the National Liberation Army - Umkhonto we Sizwe”. Internal memo by the SACP Central Committee, 1967

The Central Committee of the South African Communist Party warmly greets all Communists who are taking part in the armed struggle for the liberation of our country. For decades it has been a cardinal principle of the South African Communist Party, the revolutionary party of the working class, to support the struggle for freedom and democracy. For this reason our party has given primary importance to the building of a united front of National liberation centred around the African National Congress. In all the struggles of the past forty years and more, Communists in common with their non-communist colleagues have fought numerous campaigns against national oppression, racialism and exploitation. Communists believe that ultimately the whole world including South Africa will become a communist society in which classes and exploitation have been abolished and all human beings enjoy complete equality in all spheres of life. But the task of building such a society cannot even begin until the people are free from national oppression and the system of white minority rule is smashed. The paramount duty of the South African Communist Party today is to participate in and support the struggle for freedom in our country whose main content is the freedom of the African people. This struggle has now entered the new phase of armed revolutionary war.

When Umkhonto was established. Communists readily joined the national army at the behest of the Party. Now fighting is raging in Zimbabwe and no doubt soon the masses in South Africa will be engaged in revolutionary armed struggle. In these circumstances it becomes necessary to spell out clearly the duty of all communists in the liberation army and in propaganda work among the masses.

  1. It is the duty of Communists in Umkhonto we Sizwe to be an example of devotion and loyalty to the military command of Umkhonto we Sizwe and the political leadership of the African National Congress.
  2. It is the duty of Communists to set an example of hard work and zeal in the performance of their duties in the army and always to be the first to volunteer for the most difficult tasks.
  3. Communists must constantly raise the level of their political consciousness through study of the latest developments in South Africa and abroad. Such knowledge must be shared with all freedom fighters in a spirit of humility. On no account must Communists give the impression of "knowing everything." Communists must always be willing to learn from others as well as teach them.
  4. Communists wherever they are represent the high ideals of Communism and the liberation of all mankind from the bonds of oppression. Therefore it is the duty of Communists strenuously to oppose all direct or indirect manifestations of racialism, tribalism or narrow nationalism. Communists will always defend the unity of the revolutionary forces both communist and non-communist and espouse the progressive nationalism of the African National Congress as enshrined in the Freedom Charter. Any person who puts forward tribalist, racialist or other ideas that produce confusion and division is not a Communist.
  5. In the course of the struggle the best elements, that is, those that are most far-sighted, resolute and determined in the fight for liberation and social progress are always drawn to the Communist Party. Communists do not consider that leadership consists in competing for positions in the national movement, still less by engaging in intrigues. But by reason of their devotion to duty and work and also by their political understanding of the needs of the movement they gain the confidence of the nation. This process applies in the South African Revolution.
  6. Revolutionary struggle is not an invitation to a picnic. All Communists must therefore make it part of their duty to instil the spirit of sacrifice wherever they are; to inspire the freedom fighters in the periods of difficulty; to constantly emphasize that the victory of the revolution is inevitable. Communists must vigorously combat any inferiority complex or spirit of despair or cynicism among freedom fighters.
  7. Our party is a party of the oppressed worker and poor peasant. Our members must always set an example of devotion to the people and respect for their interests and traditions. In our political work and personal conduct we must always seek to win the masses by persuasion and example. There is no duty nobler than the fight for the liberation of the masses. This noble fight must not be sullied by arrogance and immoral behaviour such as theft of property; molesting of women or drunkenness which would lower the prestige of the movement and also endanger its security.
  8. Communists fight for the unity of the revolutionary forces and liberation movements of Southern Africa and throughout our continent. We are internationalist and it is the duty of Communists always to spread knowledge and act in solidarity with the struggles of people in other parts of the world against imperialism for freedom and independence, for peace and socialism. The value and meaning of international solidarity must be constantly placed before the eyes of the freedom fighters and the masses of the people.

• Karis, T.G. & Gerhart, G.M. (1997 ). From Protest to Challenge: A Documentary history of African politics in South Africa, 1882-1990, Vol 5: Nadir and Resurgence, 1964-1979

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