[Marxism] The Leftist Spy Who Came in From Cold Pretoria

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Mar 28 11:03:51 MDT 2012

Counterpunch March 28, 2012
The Contradictions of Ronnie Kasrils
The Leftist Spy Who Came in From Cold Pretoria

‘I don’t have the stomach or the taste to serve any more at this 
level,’ said the normally ebullient Minister of Intelligence 
Ronnie Kasrils, as he quit after fourteen years of service to the 
South African government. It was late September 2008, just after 
Thabo Mbeki was palace-couped.

Kasrils’ intelligence service was by then an international 
laughingstock, with spy-versus-spy intrigue spilling out wide 
across the political landscape. His own troops were locked in 
unending, ungovernable, internecine battles against each other’s 
factions, using hoax emails, other disinformation and 
extraordinary political contortions unknown in even the ugliest 
Stalinist traditions of the African National Congress (ANC). 
Recall that Mbeki’s police chief Jackie Selebi was also the head 
of Interpol, and to have the mafia penetrate such high levels made 
South African security farcical at best.

None of this was Kasrils’ fault, of course; such fights continue 
to this day, and leading police officers Bheki Cele and Richard 
Mdluli have allegedly amplified the Mbeki-era traditions of graft. 
But the intrigue was so murky in September 2008 that when an 
obscure judge made an offhanded, seemingly flippant remark about 
Jacob Zuma being a victim of political conspiracy, it was a 
catalyst for the ANC’s Zumites to unceremoniously evict Mbeki 
seven months before his term was due to end.

To last so long in that immoral swamp required a firm 
constitution, and to then extricate from the mire was a heroic 
task. Kasrils was (and remains) the continent’s highest-profile 
revolutionary from the white race, and in spite of all the muck 
nearby, he exudes an exceptionally powerful moral influence. 
Kasrils also played crucial leadership roles as minister of water, 
deputy minister of defense, and leadership in the ANC’s Umkhonto 
we Sizwe armed wing and SA Communist Party dating back nearly five 

The contradictions he faced during his era in power were 
overwhelming. They deserve, I believe, serious consideration; in 
some cases, much more decisive resolutions than we’ve witnessed; 
and now renewal, in the dialectical spirit. Exploring and 
transcending both the exercise of power (thesis) and counter-power 
activities by progressive civil society (antithesis), in order to 
find a new synthesis and yet new contradictions, is my objective 
in the coming pages.


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