Statement at the funeral of Jeremiah Njanja "Tshepo wa Dikapeso" Semudi, the Commissar delivered by the Deputy National Secretary of the YCLSA Alex Mashilo
5 October 2013, Soweto, South Africa
The YCLSA conveys its deepest condolences to the bereaved family, loved ones and friends; the alliance as led organisationally by the ANC with the working class as the main motive force, the SACP as the vanguard of the working class, Cosatu as a leading force of our progressive trade union movement; formations of the Mass Democratic Movement, including SANCO; formations of the Progressive Youth Alliance; all the leagues of the ANC, and revolutionary combatants, the MKMVA.
On Wednesday, 25 September we suffered a strategic defeat from death, resulting in the loss of a Warrior, a Fighting Commissar, a Selfless Revolutionary, a Poet and an Artist who devoted his life in the struggle for liberation and socialism, Jeremiah Njanja "Tshepo wa Dikapeso" Semudi. He indeed had come to work here as one of his poems affirmed the role of the working class. Who was he? He was a caterpillar, working against colonialism, apartheid and capitalist exploitation of the working people, the poor and nature. He was a Communist, one of the most resolute and advanced cadres of our revolution.
As the YCLSA we are inspired by the life of Comrade Tshepo, who skipped the country when duty called in his youth and joined the revolutionary people`s army, uMkhonto we Sizwe, (the MK), and crisscrossed borders from South Africa, Mozambique, Angola and the Soviet Union building capacity for the defeat of the apartheid regime, patriarchy, capitalist exploitation and all other forms of oppression.
We are inspired by the Commissar, Comrade Tshepo, who in his youth demonstrated the highest understanding of the importance of education and training. He underwent specialised military training, and was able to acquire higher formal qualifications up to the level of a Master`s Degree while simultaneously engaging in a war fighting against apartheid. This is indeed a constructive challenge to all the post-1994 youth who are currently not facing apartheid as a state and legal system and who are not facing any coercion to go to exile. It is a challenge to the youth to mobilise against drugs, substance and alcohol abuse.
In particular the young people who think that being disrespectful, reckless, unruly and anarchic is to be militant; who confuse insults for intellectual activity; who escaped from education for tenders; who are clearly corrupted to their bone marrow but think they can run a country, must look at the humble history of the Commissar, Comrade Tshepo, and think again. To them we say it is never too late to change and to take their cue from the exemplary role, character and content of the Commissar, Comrade Tshepo.
Comrade Tshepo was highly trained militarily. He got involved directly in military confrontations, one of them in Angola, but he never went around threatening people with empty war rhetoric upon his return from exile and his separation from the South African National Defence Force in which he was integrated after 1994. He clearly understood who the real enemy was, and never propagated any confusion as to this question. On the contrary, he urged us to unite, close rank, and give the enemy no quarter.
He understood that monopoly capital, regardless of the colour of the individuals at its helm and those that they have co-opted from the historically oppressed through various schemes of deals, constitutes the strategic enemy of both the national democratic revolution and the struggle for socialism. He had known this of course from a scientific analysis that shows the fundamental interests of monopoly capital are antagonistic and irreconcilable with the aspirations and the interests of our people - the aspirations of peace, friendship, socio-economic justice, complete political liberation and universal emancipation as correctly defined by Frederick Engels in one of his master pieces titled `Socialism: Utopian and Scientific`.
Comrade Tshepo was a scientific socialist, a communist; he was never a utopian socialist who ignored objective conditions under the guidance of subjective misreading of reality. He knew that socialism had to develop organically from below rather than imposed from above through beauty contest-type of rhetoric taking place through an essentially hostile media against the revolution. In all his undertakings in the revolution he never served, wittingly or unwittingly, as the enemy agent, and therefore as the enemy within hidden under the same colours. The Commissar was loyal to the revolution that he gave it his most invaluable possession, his life.
Comrade Tshepo would not grandstand against his own movement, whatever the challenges it may face. He knew that grandstanding against one`s own movement is tantamount to strengthening the enemy agenda. The Commissar clearly understood that whatever direction the movement adopted could best be altered in an orderly manner through structured engagements and constructive self-criticism from within if there are reservations, and that this required patience and not a leap jump to the ideal.
In the context where the alliance or any of its independent formations is facing the challenges of unity and cohesion, the Commissar preferred working for unity instead of disunity. This is what we are called upon to do. We must work very hard to unite our alliance and each one of its independent formations, similarly, the Progressive Youth Alliance and its components. There is no doubt that any agenda to propagate splits and the formation of new political parties is counterrevolutionary.
In the forthcoming elections we must therefore go all out against the opposition in all its manifestations, regardless whether they are old or newly mushrooming political parties or groupings. We must secure an overwhelming electoral victory for our movement and people, and by so doing enjoy the mushrooms collectively when the election results are announced. We have come to work here. We will continue where the Commissar left.
To the undying spirit of the Commissar we say your first task when you arrive is to brief OR Tambo, who we are informed as young people that he liked your poems, Moses Kotane, Moses Mabhida, Joe Slovo, Ruth First, Chris Hani, Dora Tamana, Thabo Mofutsanyana, Jimmy Thulare, Retlabusa Mereyothle, Grant Mathebula, Mike Mokhutsane, Maria Mochaka, Chemist Khumalo, brief all the heroes and heroines of our struggle, sung and unsung, about the progress our revolution has made and the tasks and challenges it is facing. Do as Nelson Mandela would do; join the branches of our movement, the movement of the ANC, and join the SACP, Cosatu, SANCO, MKMVA, the revolutionary movement of the people, and take the work forward.
The struggle continues.
The YCLSA will take its cue from your exemplary contribution in our struggle. We will not be misled by empty notions such as the notion of the "born frees". For we know that the struggle did not end in 1994. The legacy of colonialism and apartheid has not been eliminated. It continues to exert influence in various ways, weighing like the chains of bondage over our generation and against progress in our revolution.
There are many cadres who were buried outside the country, and others have not been found yet since they disappeared as a result of the brutality of colonialism and apartheid. Capitalist exploitation continues to ravage the working class and to fragment it in various ways, more and more forcing it into the ever increasing state of insecurity coupled with low paid wages. The working class is severely stratified, more and more deepening forms of exploitation such as labour brokering, perpetual temporary employment contracts, casualisation, informalisation linked with big corporations, and so on, are taking the place of the proletariat that Karl Marx analysed. The revolutionary potential of the proletariat is therefore facing intensifying challenges. Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism in its latest manifestation of neoliberalism has become aggressive to the sharpest edges ever.
For us the struggle continues. We have come to work here. Notions such as the notion of the "born frees" are misleading. We will therefore not allow such notions to lull us around passivity. We will fight on until human society has achieved universal emancipation. We have come to work here. This is our history, the history of class struggle, as the Commissar would constantly remind us.
Thank you for the work well done Commissar. We will pick up the spear you have left, and continue the work.
Robala ka kgotso "Tshepo wa Dikapeso".