Johannesburg - Former Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils has made explosive revelations in his new book detailing how he warned the SACP and its leader Blade Nzimande about their choice of President Jacob Zuma to lead the ANC after Polokwane in 2007.
“You will discover he is a law unto himself, comrade Blade”.
The warning though, Kasrils wrote, came two years before the Polokwane Elective Conference where Zuma toppled Thabo Mbeki as president of the ANC.
Kasrils officially launched his new book: A Simple Man - Kasrils and the Zuma Enigma.
In his book, Kasrils detailed how in an impromptu SACP central executive committee meeting he warned SACP members against their support for Zuma following his dismissal as deputy president of the country in 2005.
“Comrades, with due respect, I have known JZ from his recruitment into MK in Durban, 1962 when he was a promising young activist and well thought of."
He said he gestured to Nzimande saying: “General-secretary, you were at loggerheads with him, you and Harry Gwala. From the time he returned from exile, you warned about Zuma as a conservative, a traditionalist, a tribalist who was too close to Inkatha and Zulu Monarch,” Kasrils wrote.
He also said that he made them aware that two former high commanders of MK, Joe Slovo and Joe Modise allegedly also dissolved an MK structure Zuma commanded in 1979 “because they were unhappy with the way he was working and withholding reports”.
Ronnie Kasrils is having conversation with the audience at his book-launch. pic.twitter.com/JjPzLuZkTg
Kasrils further said he told the former SACP colleagues that “Zuma was not a working class hero”, pointing out that he quit his SACP membership soon after the unbanning of liberation movements in 1990.
While he admits that SACP members listened attentively to him, he said they did not share his views.
“.....the ANC alliance partners, the SACP and Cosatu, had hardened by 2005 into outright antagonism, rooted in dislike of Mbeki’s personal style and views, and towards the policies they believed he had foisted on the ANC and on South Africa,” Kasrils said.
He also said that the corruption charges and findings in the court in the trial against Schabir Schaik was enough for them to know who the real Zuma is.
“But comrades, let face it. It’s Zuma's corruption, his lack of morality, which has landed him in the soup and brought our movement into disrepute,” he said.
Detailing the drama at that meeting, Kasrils said ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, then SACP national chairman, responded to him after he took a pause. He said Mantashe interrupted him and said: "No, on that question of morality. I don’t accept the fuss going on in the mainstream media. What morality?"
He further states in his book that he told his SACP comrades that Zuma “has become a role model of those who say it’s our turn to eat”.
According to Kasrils, all his efforts to change their thinking about Zuma fell on deaf ears, adding that Nzimande replied and reminded him that Mbeki, like Mandela, had sidelined and insulted the SACP.
“Blade complained that Mbeki no longer bothered to consult the party or Cosatu, and favoured a coterie from American business schools. Trevor Manuel, his finance minister, had notoriously announced that Gear was non-negotiable.
“According to Blade, Mbeki allegedly also gave favour to an emergent black business faction led by Saki Macozoma, referred to as the Xhosa Nostra, owing to their background,” Kasrils wrote.
He said the SACP also complained that Mbeki was allowing the NPA and the Scorpions to lodge criminal investigations against their former freedom fighters like Mac Maharaj and former Limpopo premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi.
He said it was clear throughout that meeting that his own comrades were relentless in their views about Mbeki.
He said Nzimande replied and said: “We understand you, Comrade Khumalo (Kasrils’ non de plume) but I would say that a Zuma presidency represents the best opening for the left in the country."
“You think you can manage him, comrade Blade?" Kasrils asked.
According to Kasrils, he further told the SACP that “you will discover that he is a law unto himself. Mark my words, the party one day will deeply regret this support for Jacob Zuma."
Contacted for comment, Mantashe said he did not discuss meetings of the “organisation” saying “you have to appreciate the confidentiality of that meeting. It is there where the morality is questionable.”
Zuma’s presidential spokesperson Dr Bongani Ngqulunga did not respond to questions.
Kasrils maintained that the latest revelations in various books written about Zuma has proven him right 12 years later.
Reacting to the book, SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said: "Ronnie Kasrils did indeed oppose support for Jacob Zuma at one of the SACP meetings held in 2005, but he did not give reasons despite being repeatedly asked to motivate politically, and no compelling information emerged."
He said the impression that was left was that he might have known privileged or classified information as the minister of intelligence that he could not divulge.