ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe
The African National Congress lowers its revolutionary banner in mourning, having learnt of the passing of El Commandante en Jefe Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, a giant amongst revolutionaries, a friend of the African people, Leader of the Cuban Revolution and former President of the Republic of Cuba.
On behalf of all freedom loving peoples of South Africa, the ANC sends its deepest condolences to the people of the great Republic of Cuba.
The ANC collectively mourns with the countless revolutionary movements of the Global South, for whom the legendary leader was a tireless supporter, ally and friend.
It was the great Russian revolutionary Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov, widely regarded as the founder of Russian Marxism who said in his seminal essay “The Role of the individual in History” – “a great man is not great because his personal qualities give individual features to great historical events, but because he possesses qualities which make him most capable of serving the great social needs of his time”
A true internationalist, El Commandante Fidel Castro’s philosophy was premised on the radical idea that those whom Fanon called ‘the wretched of the earth’ had the right to eat regularly, have quality homes, be granted access to free quality education and quality medical care.
In essence, Castro believed that the poor had a right to lives of dignity. For these ideas and policies, he earned the unabashed hostility from the global neoliberal elites and self-appointed controllers of the world.
The imperialist Western nations, working together with reactionary and racist Cuban elites and their media propagandists correctly saw in him a formidable foe who wanted to end their greed, fragmentation, financial and moral corruption and bullying.
Castro had a true sense of service to his people. He did not outsource his historic responsibility to corporate profiteers. He understood the saying that rapacious capital is not in the business of nation building.
The importance of Castro in the history of the post-colonial world is monumental because he won the real battle of developing a small island against imperialist domination.
Comrade Fidel joins the global pantheon of revolutionary leaders who have passed from this life having left an indelible mark not on just their nation’s history, but the history of the world.
For everyone committed to the ideals of equality, of social justice, of freedom, of the universal brotherhood of man – today is the saddest of days.
We have lost a man who dedicated his life to the betterment of his fellow man, and stood firm in the face of oppression to lead his people to freedom. Under the leadership of Comrade Fidel the living standards of the Cuban people were vastly improved, millions of young Cubans were educated and skilled, illiteracy was eradicated, and not only was public health care improved, but it became the envy of developing countries worldwide. Despite healthcare spending per capita being 1/20th the size of the US, life expectancy at birth in Cuba is about the same as that of the US.
The Cuban revolution was an inspiration to all nations suffering under the anti-imperialist yoke, and under the leadership of Compañero Fidel, the Communist Party of Cuba and the Cuban people were among the strongest supporters of South Africa’s struggle for liberation; lending various forms of material and political support to the liberation forces during the dark days of apartheid.
The life of Compañero Fidel is illustrative of the qualities of exemplary leadership – of putting country before self. In pursuit of the common good, he was undaunted and unafraid in the face of huge forces of resistance. He knew, and said: “A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past.
We who strive for another world will continue to defend Castro from oppressors of men. We will not forget his love the for downtrodden of his land and world over; his faith in humanity and its potential and hope for a better world which he began to build.
The ANC will not forget you El Commandante and we will keep the spirit of your ideas live, until we are all free. In his memory and honour, the African National Congress today affirms our unwavering commitment to the struggle for our people’s emancipation, and to supporting the people of Cuba in retaining their right to self-determination at a time when the forces of globalization threaten to derail the gains of the Cuban revolution.
Comrade Castro was a symbol of revolutionary virtue and personal sacrifice and with his life gave full meaning to the spirit of internationalism. He will be sorely missed. We will forever salute this outstanding revolutionary, and make the call as did Che Guevara, Hasta La Victoria Siempre.
COMRADE GWEDE MANTASHE IS ANC SECRETARY-GENERAL