Deputy Minister of Defence Kebby Maphatsoe, who is also chairman of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Veterans Association (MKVA) File picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils is set to square up against current Deputy Minister of Defence Kebby Maphatsoe, who is also chairman of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Veterans Association (MKVA), in a R1 million defamation lawsuit in the high court in Pretoria on Monday.

Kasrils is suing Maphatsoe for allegedly calling him a “counter-revolutionary and an enemy of the people” as well as accusing him of orchestrating rape allegations against President Jacob Zuma by a woman who has become known as Khwezi. Zuma was acquitted of those charges.

Maphatsoe is defending the lawsuit. He argues that the allegations were made on behalf of MKVA and in his capacity as MKVA national chairman “outlining the attitude of MKVA” - which he describes as “a legal persona” and existing “in its own right and separate from its members”.

At the heart of the matter are statements Maphatsoe made in response to Kasrils’ call for the boycott of the previous national elections.

An angry Maphatsoe was quoted at the time as saying, among other things: “When he (Kasrils) was the minister of intelligence (by then) he dismissed most of the cadres of Umkhonto we Sizwe because he wanted to sell out intelligence to the imperialists during our reconstruction.

“It is clear from the beginning Uncle Ronnie has never been with us, he has been the enemy of our revolution.”

He further described Kasrils as a counter-revolutionary and an enemy of the people.

In papers lodged at the high court in Pretoria, Kasrils argues that “the contents of the statements are false and defamatory and they were intended to impute...and understood by recipients” that:

* He dismissed most of Umkhonto we Sizwe cadres when he was the minister of intelligence in “pursuance of his own agenda”.

* He pursued a hidden agenda while he was minister of intelligence in that he was to sell Umkhonto we Sizwe intelligence.

* He has never been committed to the cause of Umkhonto we Sizwe and was an enemy of MK’s “revolution”.

* He was a “counter-revolutionary, an enemy of the people, dishonest, untrustworthy, unpatriotic or corrupt”.

Kasrils argues that Maphatsoe’s statements could have been understood to mean that he was “dishonest, untrustworthy, unpatriotic and corrupt” and that he pursued a “hidden agenda against the President of the Republic of South Africa (Zuma)” and caused Zuma to be falsely accused of rape.

As a result of the accusations, Kasrils says his reputation has been damaged and suffered in the “sum of R1 million”.

In November 2014 and January 2015, Kasrils says he demanded that Maphatsoe retract his statements and apologise.

However, he refused “to tender an apology and retract his statements”.

Maphatsoe allegedly also accused Kasrils of having instigated rape charges against Zuma.

According to Kasrils, Maphatsoe alleged that Zuma’s rape accuser - the woman described only as Khwezi - was sent by him (Kasrils) to Zuma’s Forest Town house. According to Kasrils, the latter allegation was widely publicised in the media, including on Eye Witness News. Kasrils argues that the statements were made with the intention of defaming him.

In his answering affidavits, an unrepentant Maphatsoe appears not prepared to withdraw the allegations. He says Kasrils, having been within the ANC structures, “knows that any person who opposes the ANC constitution, standing orders, rules, regulations... is labelled a counter-revolutionary and en enemy of the people”.

Maphatsoe argues that “it is common knowledge to MKVA” that Kasrils dismissed “most of the Umkhonto we Sizwe members who were working in the Intelligence Department” when he was minister of intelligence.

“The plaintiff having served within the structures of the ANC would not have acted contrary to the ANC constitution...

“It is therefore submitted that if he was committed to the Umkhonto we Sizwe cause he would not have acted contrary to the position of the ANC by discouraging... people not to vote for the ANC and vote for other political parties or spoil their ballot papers.

“Any person who is opposed to the principles and values upon which the ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe were founded is a counter-revolutionary, and it is denied that this amounts to a false or defamatory statement.”

Maphatsoe says Umkhonto we Sizwe “means the spear of the nation and it was founded by the ANC to defend the people and any person opposed to it is regarded as an enemy of the people”.

He further argues that the publication of his statements was in the public interest as Kasrils was trying to discourage the people of “the Republic of South Africa to exercise their fundamental right” to vote.

The Sunday Independent