The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Free State Province and nationally mourns Comrade Bereng Soke, the SACP Free State Provincial Chairperson, who untimely passed away on Monday this week.
“It was with profound sadness to learn of the great loss the Soke family and the SACP encountered. While we are all affected by the death of Comrade Bereng, the loss weighs heavier on the family.
“The SACP conveys its heartfelt condolences to the Soke family, comrades, friends, and the workers and communities he dedicated his life to serve wholeheartedly,” said the SACP Free State.
In paying tribute to Soke lived his life largely in service of the working class in South Africa and the world, and also served the liberation movement and the trade union movement in different capacities, with utmost dedication.
He was also praised for advancing workers’ rights and fighting against the system of capitalism and its exploitative vestiges until the end.
SACP Free State Provincial Secretary, Bheke Stofile said Soke rose organically within the mass democratic movement and proved to be a prolific organiser and mobiliser. Within the progressive trade union movement under the banner of COSATU, he led the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) as its Regional Secretary. He was elected to the position in 2001.
Stofile explained that Soke rose through the ranks to become Provincial Chairperson and Provincial Secretary. He was later elected Deputy General Secretary and then General Secretary of the national union at its 11th National Congress in 2014.
“NEHAWU continued to grow, paying attention to ideological training and international solidarity work, and waged relentless struggles in pursuit of working-class interests under his leadership collective,” he said.
In the SACP, Soke served as District Secretary of the Thabo Mofutsanyana District in Free State. He was later elected the SACP Free State Provincial Deputy Secretary.
An adherent of Marxism-Leninism and a calm, level-headed practical activist, he was elected Provincial Secretary after serving the Party in those responsibilities for decades.
At the 8th SACP Free State Provincial Congress, he was elected Provincial Chairperson, and held this position until his untimely passing. By virtue of being the SACP Provincial Secretary and Chairperson, Soke served as an ex-officio member of the SACP Central Committee.
“He was a remarkable cadre and a trade unionist of note. Comrade Bereng worked tirelessly to forge working-class unity and foster working-class consciousness not only in South Africa but also amongst the workers of the world. Owing to his selfless dedication and keen interest in working-class solidarity and internationalism, he also served as Ideological and Training Officer of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), since February 2018.
“Comrade Soke passed away at the time when the consolidation and unity of all Left and progressive forces in South Africa and globally is required to transcend the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis that has worsened in countries such as South Africa.
“The world and our country must not go back to the unconstrained era of capitalist crisis but must emerge from the worsened crisis in a revolutionary way. This requires a revolutionary reconstitution of society, as opposed to more capitalism, more neoliberalism, more imperialism, more exploitation, more unemployment, more poverty, more inequality, more crisis of social reproduction, more gender-based violence, more everything capitalist,” said Stofile.
The SACP said a fitting tribute that can be offered in memory of Soke is to intensify, on the one hand, the struggle against state capture and the desperate fightback attempts by its pundits, and on the other hand, the struggle against the neoliberalism and its austerity and privatisation agendas, and its attacks on the gains of the working class that he dedicated his life to fight hard for.
“We must draw inspiration from the fighting revolutionary spirit of Comrade Soke. We must continue the struggle against erosion of working-class victories. We must defend collective bargaining and respect for its decisions. We must intensify the struggle against retrenchments, which lead to complete loss of income affecting the retrenched workers, the worst impacted of all workers after the unemployed. We must fight to achieve a policy change to create work for the unemployed workers to make a living from. We must fight to end exploitation of labour by capitalist bosses and gender-based violence,” said Stofile emphatically.
Stofile said in memory of their departed Comrade, the party intends to intensify the struggles for universal access to healthcare and well-developed human settlements as well as eradication of hunger.
The party said it will further carry on the struggle to achieve access to clean quality drinking water for everyone and intensify the struggle against corruption.
The SACP said its lowers its revolutionary red flag in honour of its own Comrade and commits to intensify the struggle, until victory, until complete liberation, freedom, universal emancipation.