Kotane gave his life to the struggle: Zuma

By Drum Digital
14 March 2015

Struggle stalwart Moses Kotane gave his life to the struggle for freedom, President Jacob Zuma said at the struggle stalwart's reburial service on Saturday.

"Moses Kotane gave his whole life to the struggle for freedom, justice and equality," Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery at the ceremony in Pella, North West.

"We are filled with sadness but also pride and joy, for we have the privilege of celebrating the life of this highly regarded giant of our struggle for freedom."

Kotane was a former SA Communist Party general secretary and former treasurer-general of the African National Congress.

Kotane, one of the first activists to be banned under the Suppression of Communism Act, suffered a stroke in 1968 and went for treatment in the then-Soviet Union, where he died in 1978.

He was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, Russia.

On Saturday, Zuma said Kotane had finally come to his permanent resting place and said it was an honour to have to opportunity to bid him a formal farewell.

JB Marks, Moses Kotane

"We are privileged indeed to call this internationalist our compatriot, a man who was respected from Africa to Asia and Europe, because of his ideological clarity and commitment to the cause of freedom of the oppressed," Zuma said.

He said it was important to reflect on the "material conditions and social context" that shaped Kotane's thinking.

"These are the conditions that were to ultimately create a giant of our revolution whose life is worth celebrating without any reservation."

Kotane grew up under harsh conditions of poverty, engineered by the colonial regime to ensure that black people amounted to nothing more than a source of cheap labour, Zuma said.

He said during his childhood, South Africa was colonised and Kotane received very little formal education and had to go find work at the age of seventeen.

Zuma said it was important to note that Kotane was a hard worker, which earned him leadership positions.

"Through him, we want to inspire our youth in particular to read, work hard and rise through the leadership of organisations through commitment, dedication and hard work."

Kotane worked tirelessly to make South Africa a better place for all. South Africa's story would never be complete without mentioning Kotane who guided the country's revolution, said Zuma.

"Compatriots We are laying to rest a towering figure in the liberation struggle," he said.

He told the Kotane family they finally had a place to go to mourn and South Africans had a monument to go where they could pay their respect.

"The people of South Africa and the world will now also have a monument to come and pay their respects, and draw inspiration from the life of Moses Kotane the fighter, teacher, commissar, administrator, intellectual, outstanding patriot, revolutionary and giant of our struggle.

"May his soul finally rest in eternal peace," said Zuma.

Congress of the People (Cope) welcomed the reburial of Kotane and said they knew how his family longed from him to lie in South African soil.

Cope said he was where he belonged and saluted Kotane for his selflessness.

"He had a clear vision for our country. He led the struggle, with others of similar commitment, so that all the people of our country could live in peace and harmony," Cope said in a statement.

"Moses Kotane struggled for all of us to be equal before the law and for the overcoming of poverty so that no-one in our country had to ever go to bed on an empty stomach."

The party said it would follow in his footsteps, sparing no effort in the struggle against poverty and inequality.

-SAPA

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