ANC mourns the passing of struggle icon Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim

Johannesburg – The ANC has announced the passing of Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, after battling a long-time illness at his home in Johannesburg.

Born on 1 July 1937, the ANC said in a statement, ‘Comrade Ebi’, as he was affectionately known, was a longstanding member of the ANC, a patriot who served his country in different capacities with humility, dedication and distinction.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife Shannon, and their children Sarah and Caden, as well as their extended family, friends and comrades,” the ANC said in a statement.

Ebrahim joined the liberation movement as a youth activist in 1952, and through the National Indian Congress (NIC) participated in the Congress of the People Campaign, which drew up and adopted the Freedom Charter in 1955.

He was active in all the campaigns of the 1950’s, and after the banning of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1960, Ebrahim joined the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto We Sizwe in 1961.

He was arrested in 1963 and charged under the sabotage act with eighteen other accused in the Pietermaritzburg Sabotage Trial.

He was sentenced to 15 years on Robben Island.

He was released in 1979, was banned, and restricted to his hometown in Durban.

He was prevented from participating in any public or political activities.

In 1980, as per instruction of the ANC, he went into exile.

He operated from the frontline states bordering South Africa and was responsible for the political underground movement.

In December 1986, he was kidnapped from Swaziland by the South African Security Forces and detained in South Africa where he was severely tortured.

He was charged with high treason and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on Robben Island.

In 1991, the appeal court ruled that his kidnapping from a foreign country was illegal and that the South African court had no jurisdiction to try him.

He was subsequently released from prison in early 1991. In July 1991, he was elected to the National Executive Committee of the ANC and also became a member of the National Working Committee.

During the CODESA (Convention for a Democratic South Africa) negotiations, as part of the ANC organising department, comrade Ebrahim was tasked by the ANC to establish the Patriotic Front, which consisted of over 93 organisations.

The Patriotic Front brought together political, religious, community, cultural and civic organisations.

He also participated in the CODESA negotiations and was elected a member of the National Assembly of Parliament in 1994.

In August 1997, he was elected Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee and also became a member of the Joint Select Committee on Intelligence.

Ebrahim resigned from Parliament in July 2002, to take up the position of the Senior Political and Economic Advisor to the Deputy President of South Africa.

Since 2002 he was actively involved in conflict resolution efforts between Israel and Palestine, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as in Burundi, Kosovo, Bolivia, and Nepal.

In 2006 Ebrahim was appointed as Head of International Affairs at the African National Congress Head Office.

In May 2009 he was appointed as Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, a position he carried out with diligence until 2017. Cde Ebi served as a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC for 26 years, from 1991 till 2017.

Even after retirement, he continued to play an active role in the renewal of the movement and in international relations.

His official biography, Ebrahim Ebrahim, A Gentle Revolutionary by his wife and partner Shannon Ebrahim was published by the Kathrada Foundation in 2017.

As he explained this life in his own words: “I have been involved in the struggle for liberation for over 36 years. I spend about half that period in prison. My life has been one struggle for peace and natural justice, for a common humanity and a struggle against the greatest evil of this century, the evil of racism. If I were to choose my life all over again I would follow the same path. I could never have remained indifferent to the poverty and suffering of our people.”

“We shall all miss his gentle and always-ready smile, his steadfast commitment to the South African people and to the African Agenda, and his humility, dedication and hard work,” the ANC further said in a statement.

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