T.O.S.A.S. 3, Essop Pahad


My third “Top Operatives of South African Socialism” deals with Minister in the Presidency, Essop Pahad.

This position was created especially for Pahad in 1999 and is essentially that of presidential minder. Insiders regard Pahad as President Mbeki’s right hand man and one of the four or five most powerful people in South Africa.

As Pahad’s government biography states, the Minister carries out a wide range of political duties as designated by the President.

Pahad is a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the South African Democracy Education Trust and a leading member of the South African Communist Party.

Born in 1939, in Johannesburg, from an Indian Muslim background, Pahad was raised by communist parents and became politically prominent as a student at the University of the Witwatersrand.

From 1958 to 1964 he was a member and secretary of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress (TIYC) Executive Committee. After the ANC was banned in Pahad was a TIYC volunteer, producing and distributing ANC pamphlets and posters.

In 1962, Pahad was arrested and imprisoned for two weeks. He was charged with organising an ‘illegal strike’, but was found not guilty.

Shortly after he was “banned” for five years by the South African government, meaning he could not be quoted or published. In 1964, Pahad went in to exile where he assumed leadership roles in both the ANC and SACP.

Some time was spent on military training in Angola, but much more was spent in Moscow at the “Institute of Social Sciences“.

Situated in Leningradski Prospect, the ISS (also known as Lenin’s Institute for Higher Learning) was the Soviet’s main school for training foreign communists.

South Africa was regarded as a priority one target by the Soviets (along with Chile, Argentina and the United Kingdom) so training was intense and long term.

Of the 5/6,000 students at the school at any one time, approximately 200 were South Africans-easily one of the biggest contingents.

These South Africans were trained for up to seven years, often on a one to one basis. They were groomed to be leaders of post Apartheid South Africa.

The training was clearly successful as President Mbeki, his key assistant, Pahad and several other South African cabinet ministers are graduates of the school.

Like many South African communists, Pahad also studied at the University of Sussex, another point in common with Thabo Mbeki.

From 1975 to 1985 Pahad represented the SACP on the Editorial Council of the Prague based, “World Marxist Review“. This was one the most prestigious and influential positions in the communist world and indicates Pahad’s standing in the movement.

From 1975 Pahad was back in the UK where he served on the regional command of the ANC’s Political and Military Council in London and was attached to the SACP’s International Department, which networked with other communist parties and aligned organisations.

In 1989 he was elected to the SACP’s Central Committee at the party’s seventh congress held in Havana. In 1990 Pahad returned to South Africa, and was re-elected to the SACP Central Committee in December 1991 and was appointed to the SACP’s International Department in charge of foreign relations. Around this time he allegedly went on a fund-raising trip to Beijing for the SACP.

Elected to Parliament in 1990 on the ANC ticket, Pahad was Parliamentary Counsellor to the Deputy President, until 1996.

From 1996 to 1999 he was Deputy Minister in the Office of the former Executive Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki.

South Africa’s “Business Day” has described Pahad as “a partly reconstructed Stalinist who sees himself as his master’s political bodyguard.” Black nationalists in the ANC, refer to him as “Mbeki’s Rottweiler.”

In recent years, Pahad has worked to strengthen South African ties to the world socialist/Islamic Axis. He has made high level trips to Iran (2003), Vietnam (2005), China (2005) and Bolivia (2006.

Of course none of this may have anything to do with Marxism-Leninism. Pahad may have become “liberal” at heart. After all even life long, Soviet trained, world ranked Marxist theoreticians, who are at the peak of their powers, can change.

We’ve just got to trust the dear man.

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