He will be remembered for his active stance against the racist Apartheid, as well as for his reconciliatory role as the chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Nonetheless, despite his self-identification as a "socialist" and his criticism towards capitalism, the late Archbishop was a staunch anti-communist. In 1985 he stated that he hated Marxism-Leninism "with every fiber of his being", while he used to compare the socialist countries with far-right regimes, even Nazism!
In a shameful and completely anti-historical reference, the Archbishop had said once: "Apartheid is as evil and as vicious as Nazism and Communism" (Gish Steven D. (2004). Desmond Tutu: A Biography. Greenwood Press).
Also, according to his authorized biography, Tutu had often used the unscientific argument that "African communism" is an oxymoron because—in his view—Africans are intrinsically spiritual and this conflicts with the atheistic nature of Marxism (Allen, John (2006). Rabble-Rouser for Peace: The Authorised Biography of Desmond Tutu. London: Rider).
On the occasion of his death, the South African Communist Party (SACP) issued the following statement:
"Dr Blade Nzimande, the South African Communist Party General Secretary, expresses the Party's sincere condolences to the family of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Tutu (90) passed away on Sunday, 26 December 2021.
We will remember him for the work he did when he was the Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, among others. The commission was an essential part of our transition from apartheid to our current and developing democratic transition. Its final report referred a number of cases for prosecution. A long time has now passed. There has been little progress. However, recently the National Prosecuting Authority announced it has appointed a team of prosecutors to investigate some of those cases. This step is crucial, although it is belated.
In addition, for all the families that lost their loved ones because of the actions of apartheid security and other networks to find closure, not some but all the cases and other crimes in which the apartheid regime or its networks killed people must be included in the scope of the investigation, which must be expedited given the long time that has passed. We need closure as the formerly oppressed."