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ANC Leader Nominated for Top Communist Party Post

December 6, 1991

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Chris Hani, a leader of the African National Congress, was nominated Friday to become general-secretary of the South African Communist Party.

At its first legal congress in 41 years, the Communist Party’s 400 delegates chose Hani to replace Joe Slovo, the longtime party leader and ANC official who was diagnosed this year as having bone marrow cancer. Hani was the only candidate nominated.

The choice of Hani, a leading militant, would enhance the Communist Party’s popularity with radical blacks, particularly younger people who oppose negotiations with the white-minority government.

In the past, Hani has strongly supported Marxist policies as the vehicle for curing socio-economic ills despite their failure in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Hani has long been a leading member of the ANC, the nation’s main black opposition group and an ally of the Communists. He led the ANC’s military wing, Spear of the Nation, and was elected to the ANC’s governing National Executive in July.

Hani had earlier asked the ANC leadership for permission to become the Communist Party’s general-secretary. The ANC National Executive opposed the move, saying it wanted Hani to devote all his time to the ANC.

The South African Press Association reported Friday that Hani said he would accept the nomination. ″It there’s an overwhelming feeling from the party that I should stand ... then I will stand,″ Hani reportedly said.

Another Communist official and ANC member, Ronnie Kasrils, said the ANC would have no choice but to accept the Communist Party’s decision to nominate Hani. ″It shows how popular he is and how strongly the party needs Chris Hani in this position,″ Kasrils said.

Slovo, 65, has been the ANC’s most prominent white leader and is one of its most popular figures.

While Communist parties around the world are in crisis, the South African party is an influential force, largely because of its ties with the ANC.

The party is popular with blacks because of its leading role in the fight against apartheid.

In his opening speech to the congress Thursday, Slovo demanded that the government resign and allow an interim authority to oversee South Africa’s transition from white-minority to democratic rule. He said the interim leadership should be the first step toward the eventual election of a new government.

The demand is likely to be among the most contentious issues when the government and opposition groups launch historic negotiations Dec. 20 on a new constitution. President F.W. de Klerk opposes an interim government, but has indicated support for including some opposition figures in the Cabinet.

This week’s Communist Party congress is the first convened legally in South Africa since 1950, when the party was outlawed. De Klerk re-legalized the party in February 1990.

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