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South Africa honours liberation hero's passing

Eric ‘Stalin’ Mtshali died today, aged 84

SOUTH AFRICAN President Cyril Ramaphosa offered condolences as communists flew the Red Flag at half-mast in honour of veteran leader Eric “Stalin” Mtshali, who died today at the age of 84.

He described Mr Mtshali as “an extraordinary activist and leader whose illustrious life story and patriotic contribution we shall never forget.”

South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande explained the huge influence the liberation struggle stalwart had on generations of activists. 

Mr Mtshali dedicated his life to revolutionary class struggle and was one of the longest-serving members of the SACP central  committee.

He was among the first to join the ranks of the joint SACP-ANC military wing, uMkhonto weSizwe, serving in the unit that started the sabotage missions against the apartheid regime.

Mr Mtshali was the first editor of The Dawn, the liberation movement’s military magazine working closely with Chris Hani. 

His involvement in political education provided a clear direction to soldiers, particularly during the Sino-Soviet split.

Through the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) he helped establish trade unions across Africa including Ethiopia, Sudan and Morocco, drawing on his experiences organising South African dock workers and helping to establish the South African Trade Union Congress in the 1950s.

Known as “the man of steel,” he was honoured with a Recognition Award by the WFTU last year “for the sterling role he played in the broader struggles of the working class, and the proletariat in particular, throughout the world.”

Mr Nzimande said: “In recognition of the sterling contribution of Comrade Eric “Stalin” Mtshali, the struggle, including against our own weaknesses, continues and must intensify.

“We must not engage in any retreat or surrender, particularly in waging the struggle against our own weaknesses,” he said.

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