ANC fires back at Kasrils on info bill
Cape Town - The ANC has accused former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils of wanting to rule the state security department "from the grave".
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said the party found his criticism on the Protection of State Security Bill strange.
"The African National Congress finds it strange and shocking that comrade Ronnie Kasrils... wants to rule the department... from the grave through his negative commentary on the Information Bill," he said in a statement.
"Comradede Kasrils failed to deal with the mess in the then department of intelligence, where he was a minister, which left us vulnerable to machinations of foreign spies, information peddlers, and espionage activities."
The ANC would have expected Kasrils, as a former minister and a member of the ANC, to have engaged the current minister Siyabonga Cwele, instead of "posing as a champion of civil society".
"We have done everything in our power not to respond to the ravings of comrade Ronnie Kasrils ever since he started on this route," Mthembu said.
"We always believed that he would find it appropriate to stop such unwarranted attacks on his government and contribute constructively to any matter in the public domain."
Mthembu said the ANC wrongly believed that Kasrils would desist from using the media to keep a public profile.
"It is quite clear that we were wrong in all these respects."
Mthembu urged Kasrils to come forward and make a constructive contribution to the department that he had led and to the country's security.
"It is our belief that if he prefers to engage with his ANC on this matter of importance, the security of state information, he will find the ANC and its government ready for such engagement," he said.
Earlier on Friday, Kasrils condemned as "disgraceful" Cwele's claim that opponents protesting against the bill were agents of foreign spies.
Cwele made the assertion during the debate on the bill in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
"This is precisely the mindset that I fear as a former minister of intelligence," Kasrils said.
"Consider the impact of such inflammatory statements on members of the intelligence services.
"They will be encouraged to adopt a mindset already noted for excessive secrecy, exaggerated fears, and paranoia. And they are the very officials who the bill entrusts with all the tasks under the bill once it becomes law."
Kasrils said he had proposed a public interest defence for a 2008 draft of the same bill, after consultations with journalists.
It was never tabled in Parliament, but was "scrapped by ruling party representatives at the committee stage after I resigned from government in September 2008", he said.