Comrade Chris Matlhako, the Secretary for International Affairs of the South African Communist Party and Central Committee member, passed away this morning, April 20, 2023, at the age of 58. He was a diligent friend to the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean and partner in the building of socialism internationally. Deepest condolences were expressed by the Cuban embassy and Ambassador in South Africa: “The world loses one of its most exceptional sons.”
Chris, an internationalist, traveled on many occasions to Venezuela and Cuba, offering solidarity and accompaniment from Africa and was an important voice in opposing NATO and the cold war on China. Chris condemned imperialist aggression against Palestine, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and other countries, urging international solidarity from South Africa and was on the Steering Committee for The Black Alliance for Peace’s U.S. Out of Africa Network.
The African National Congress paid tribute in a statement that can be read here.
Below is the statement issued by the South African Communist Party on Comrade Chris Matlhako’s passing.
South African Communist Party
20 April 2023
SACP dips its red flag and mourns the passing of Central Committee member Comrade Chris Matlhako (21 October 1964 – 20 April 2023)
The South African Communist Party (SACP) conveys its message of deepest condolences to the family of Comrade Chris Matlhako, SACP 15th National Congress Central Committee member who served our Party and movement diligently.
Comrade Chris Matlhako passed away on Thursday morning, 20 April 2023.
The SACP also sends its message of condolences to the entire liberation movement which he served till he breathed his last, as well as the working-class across the world.
At the time of his passing, Comrade Chris Matlhako served the SACP as a full-time Central Committee Member as elected by the SACP 15th National Congress held 13 – 16 July 2022. In this capacity, he served as Secretary for International Relations at the Party’s Headquarters in Johannesburg. Previously, he was the SACP 2nd Deputy General Secretary as elected by the 14th National Congress in 2017, and served as a Central Committee member before that tenure. He was also a member of the African National Congress and participated in the mass democratic movement as an activist and leader.
Comrade Chris Matlhako joined the South Africa liberation struggle as a student, actively participating in the student movement to fight against the apartheid system. He later joined the SACP and never shifted from the socialist course.
An astute intellectual fully committed to the socialist cause, Comrade Chris penned many articles for various publications, local and international, on numerous subjects concerning the revolution. A collection of his articles published in various publications over the years was made available and serialised in the magazine Thinking Che, with the first volume appearing in 2019.
Comrade Chris Matlhako did not limit himself to serving the South African working-class, however. He also spread himself across the world, helping to raise the international struggle against imperialism and assiduously delivering the SACP’s message to various parts of the world. As part of his internationalist work, Comrade Chris served as the General-Secretary of the Friends of Cuba Society – South Africa (FOCUS-SA) and was also a member of the South African Peace Initiative, among other responsibilities. He also represented the Party in the Working Group of the International Communist and Workers Parties, directly contributing to shaping and sharpening the socialist voices across all lands.
In paying tribute to Comrade Chris Matlhako, the SACP will continue to tirelessly organise the working-class, galvanise the left forces in order to deepen the building of a socialist movement of the workers and the poor, as mandated by our 15th National Congress. In taking forward his work, the SACP calls for more revolutionaries to actively involve themselves in Marxist-Leninist intellectual work as well as working-class internationalism.
The SACP calls upon young communists, as led by the Young Communist League of South Africa, whom Comrade Chris worked very hard to nurture, to preserve his legacy by organising the youth of our country to fight against imperialism, towards socialism.
By Camila Escalante/Kawsachun News