Speakers at the wreath laying ceremony of the late leader of the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP) Harry Gwala have called on the government to declare his grave a national heritage site.

Gwala was arrested for his involvement in the struggle against apartheid. Harry Gwala Foundation chairperson Panyaza Lesufi says Gwala deserves recognition for his tireless contribution for a better life for all South Africans.

Comrade Gwala’s clarity that the liberation of black (especially African) South Africans would never be complete until they are economically liberated, and are able to scale the commanding heights of the economy, through controlling the means of production, was grounded in his strong communist beliefs.

He joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1942, and the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) two years later.

Gwala’s spirit remains

The governing party the African National Congress (ANC) says Gwala’s revolutionary spirit remains with the party.

“Comrade Gwala was one of those rare revolutionaries who refused to be bow to the intimidation and repression of the apartheid regime, nor mitigate in any matter whatsoever his commitment to the total and fundamental liberation of all black (especially African) South Africans. As a consequence he was not only once, but actually twice, imprisoned as a political prisoner on Robben Island,” says ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule in a statement.

The ANC says Gwala, a teacher by profession, had a big influence on his students.

“He believed that teaching was not only the imbuing of so-called objective facts, but first and foremost was meant to make learners conscious of the conditions under which they live. He ardently believed that historical analyses and politically conscious decisions that inform deliberate action can liberate them from oppressive conditions – such as those that were imposed by the apartheid regime.

With this understanding and revolutionary approach to education, comrade Gwala was a disciple of the great Brazilian educator and philosopher, Paulo Freire, whom together with the communist guiding lights in his life, Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, he was fond of quoting.”