Unarmed, but still dangerous

2014-04-25 00:00

TWO years before our democratic elections in 1994, and soon after the Boipatong massacre, Ronnie Kasrils and some senior ANC leaders led a march of 80 000 protesters in a mass campaign to Ciskei, which was a Bantustan governed by dictator Brigadier Oupa Gqoza.

The intention was to occupy Bisho and force Gqoza out of office. Gqoza applied for an interdict against the march, which stipulated that the march should be held within the Independence Stadium.

The ANC leaders defied this injunction and on September 7, under the leadership of Kasrils, led the protesters into a volley of 425 rounds of fire from Gqoza’s Ciskei Defence Force’s automatic weapons.

Twenty-eight marchers and one soldier died in the crossfire and over 200 were injured.

The subsequent Commission of Inquiry led by Judge Richard Goldstone condemned Gqoza for stifling free political activity and for using lethal force against the marchers.

Goldstone also condemned Kasrils for irresponsibly encouraging marchers to break through the razor wire, openly provoking Gqoza’s thugs to shoot.

I remember the day so clearly. Watching television in complete disbelief as the gung-ho, former ANC commander just returned from exile, instructed protesters to march into a death trap.

Indeed, Ronnie the Commie failed to foresee the consequences of his actions. These comrades, whom we so idealised when they were abroad, operated in direct contradiction to the ways of the United Democratic Front.

And this was the steep learning curve that we had to deal with; the fight for liberation demonstrated that some of our new ANC leaders lacked strategy and tactics.

Today, we witness Red Ronnie again issuing instructions to the nation to vote for any insignificant party but not for the ANC or the DA.

This former minister, who enjoyed the trappings of power in every way, and who was richly rewarded by Thabo Mbeki and the Pahad brothers for using his public office to spearhead the anti-Israel campaign, now advises us how not to vote.

Sadtu’s condemnation of Kasrils as being “populist and irresponsible” for wanting to roll back the Constitutional gains we have made since 1994, is spot on.

“It was good for people to vote when Kasrils was on the list of the ANC with some possibility to become a minister in government, but it is wrong now as he is not on the list of the ANC.

“Is this not ‘sour grapes’, and a self-serving mentality at its best?”

Harsh words, indeed, from former comrades.

Appropriating the right to dictate to us how we should vote, Kasrils is a bad loser in every way.

Unhappy as he is with the ANC, of which he was a senior leader, he should take responsibility for what the party has become.

Claiming that the ANC is off the rails, he still believes that our salvation lies within the party.

When he decrees that we should vote for minority parties, or not vote at all, he actually undermines the idea of a multiparty democracy, a right that cost us a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

As a staunch Mbeki-ite, Kasrils takes no responsibility for his failure to condemn Mbeki for Zimbabwe, for his denials that HIV causes Aids, leading to the deaths of thousands of black South Africans in particular, and for his dire foreign-policy actions. To wit, the arms deal happened under his watch, when he was deputy minister of Defence to minister Joe Modise, the greatest beneficiary of the arms procurement scandal.

Even unarmed, Kasrils is dangerous, ready to lead the electorate astray simply because he has lost power.

• Rhoda Kadalie is a former academic, founder of the Gender Equity Unit and executive director of the Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust.

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