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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Slovo, Joe

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Joe Slovo was born in Lithuania in 1926 and moved to South Africa at the age of nine. He studied law at the University of the Witwatersrand.

He was an active member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) from the 1940s and became an advocate at the Johannesburg Bar. In 1949 he married Ruth First. The following year they were 'named' under the Suppression of Communism Act. Slovo was a founder member of the Congress of Democrats in 1953. In 1954 he was banned from all gatherings under the Suppression of Communism Act, but continued his political activities covertly.

In December 1956 Slovo, together with other Congress activists, was charged with treason. He was a member of the defence team as well as an accused. Treason charges against him were dropped in late 1958. He left the country in 1963 and continued to work for the ANC and the SACP abroad. In 1977 he moved to Mozambique where he established an operational centre for the ANC. In 1982 Ruth First was killed in a parcel bomb explosion in Maputo.

Slovo was part of the central committee of the SACP and was chief of staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe until April 1987. In 1985 Slovo became a member of the ANC National Executive Committee. The SACP and ANC were unbanned in February 1990, and in 1991 he was elected SACP party chairman at the SACP conference and re-elected to the ANC's National Executive Committee. He also served on the ANC's National Working Committee and as SACP representative on the National Peace Committee.

After the 1994 elections Slovo was elected to the cabinet and served as Minister of Housing until his death on 5 January 1995.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.