Ex-Minister Ronnie Kasrils On ANC Presidential Race: ‘Let Mbeki Contest For Third Term’


Amid differing calls for a better leader in the governing African National Congress (ANC), former Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils believes that former President Thabo Mbeki has all it takes to take the country forward.

Kasrils who was speaking at metalworkers’ union Numsa’s Vincent Mabuyakhulu conference centre, urged the former President to contest for the role of ANC president in an attempt to stop President Jacob Zuma from taking over the position again.

Ronnie Kasrils was speaking during his book launch titled A Simple Man – which focused on his relationship with Zuma during the 80s while in exile.

“It’s not that I went out [to] proclaim Mbeki a saviour, but it was certainly to oppose Zuma,” Kasrils told the audience, adding that there was virtually nothing wrong about letting Mbeki  lead the ANC again as nothing in the ANC’s constitution barred him from such, while he could only serve as leader of the country for two terms.

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Explaining further the reasons behind his choice of Thabo Mbeki compared to other contestants including Deputy Cyril Ramaphosa and the former AU chair Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma, Kasrils said its mainly to keep Zuma’s eyes out of the leadership seat.

Ronnie Kasrils who was also the former Umkhonto weSizwe leader, further gave reasons why he chose to write about Zuma, saying he had earlier tried to warn South Africa’s first democratic president Nelson Mandela about Zuma after noticing several worrying traits in him while in exile.

He said those faults are quite a range in terms of the tribal aspect, the conservatism which he tries to hide when it comes out, in terms of attitudes on gender, women, homosexuality and tremendous social backwardness, [and] secret in terms of he was always setting up secret structures.

He also recalled warning hi Umkhonto weSizwe comrades about Zuma in the lead up to the Polokwane conference, in the hope of turning them against supporting the current president’s bid to become the leader of the liberation movement.

“I challenged, before the rape charge which came in 2005, after Mbeki dismissed Zuma for the corruption issue related to Schabir Shaik’s corruption charges, as I could see Cosatu and the party [SACP] were getting behind Zuma,” recalled Ronnie Kasrils.

“I said: ‘Comrades, Jacob Zuma is not a working-class hero, Jacob Zuma does not have revolutionary morality, Jacob Zuma is backward, ethnic and tribal’. I explained it all on the basis [of experience] from exile and from what we started seeing of his behaviour in South Africa.”

Kasrils’comment comes amid controversy over the newly launched book The President’s Keeper – a book about President Jacob Zuma written by an investigative journalist Jacques Pauw.

The book not only detailed how the President allegedly evaded tax payment since 2009 when he became President, it also detailed how he and his family were placed in the pay role of most controversial companies in the country.

This adds to the mounting cases surrounding the controversial state capture report released last year by the former Public Protector Thuli Mandosela who urged the President to set up a committee of enquiry in the matter.

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Meanwhile, ahead of the ANC elective conference of December this year, the deputy President and Presidential hopeful has been slammed for breaking the party rules by announcing his dream team before time.

Senior ANC leader and Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi is also criticising the party for allegedly excluding women from top leadership positions.

Maswanganyi, who is also a member of the ANC provincial executive committee in Limpopo, challenged the party’s top executives to address their patriarchal views, which according to him, have continued to exclude women from chairperson positions.

He dismissed the idea of the automatic succession of an ANC president by its deputy, saying leaders were “not anointed” in the party.

“It’s because of the patriarchal system that we continue to experience even in the organisation that women are not given those responsibilities to be chairpersons of regions and so on,” Maswanganyi said, adding that it was insulting that people still questioned whether the party was ready to be led by a woman.

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