Opinionista Onkgopotse JJ Tabane 5 May 2014

Dear Comrade Ronnie, let’s talk frankly… again

Comrade Ronnie Kasrils does not seem to have got the message the first time around, so here it is again for good measure.

Let me repeat myself. You are a coward.

Maybe my long letter confused matters, and this simple statement to you got lost.

If you were not a coward you would have formally left the ANC and formed or joined another party, like Julius Malema or Terror Lekota did. So you are giving a half-hearted message that people must make their vote not count. They must vote for parties that will never have a chance to rule, therefore never have a chance to express their aspirations. You have fake courage to say people must not vote DA, but you have no courage to say who amongst the so-called small parties they must vote for. That is the crux of the matter. You are saying if I don’t like any party I must spoil my vote – if I am unhappy with the ANC and don’t like the small parties, my vote must be used not to choose a government but to scare the ANC. So Chris Hani died so that I can scare the ANC, not so that I can choose a government that can govern for me? What a distortion of our struggle and what our heroes died for.

Your central thesis is that there is too much corruption and therefore we must do this crazy ballot spoiling. I asked you a simple question: why did this drastic thing not apply to the stench of corruption; the misuse of the intelligence forces that you oversaw? Why did this drastic action not appear to you when there was corruption during your Cabinet days, over the arms deal and huge tender corruption in almost all government departments? That is why it is flimsy – I don’t question that you knew there was corruption; I am questioning that you believe now, suddenly, that the only way to deal with it is to absent yourself from determining who must govern. Indeed, because no one called ‘spoiler’ is on the ballot. I stand by that – if you believe, as you should, that people will listen to you, if the majority do listen and spoil their ballots, then indeed you are saying we must have a stateless situation – this is the logical conclusion of your suggestion.

Now let’s go to the small parties. You don’t want the DA, clearly, although your reasons are not stated. Who must we vote for? COPE maybe? The EFF? Why are you shy to say who you support, so that people can follow your lead? Is it because your action, belated and opportunistic, is one of political cowardice? You are in a sense worse than Malema. He at least nailed his colours to a mast, even though it was after he was expelled. You won’t; you are afraid to go all the way in tying your fate to people who are sure to lose the elections and make no difference. It’s fine to call me a recent convert – you know little about me, clearly. I have never operated on a basis of ingratiating myself to anybody. Read my columns in Daily Maverick if you need proof. So it does not worry me if you fail to deal with my simple argument and call me ingratiating – is your friend Essop Pahad ingratiating himself when he says that you are misguided? Or must I shut up because I had the courage to be part of an opposition in the past? The courage you don’t seem to be able to muster? What has my previous castigation of the ANC got to do with your misguided action of blowing hot and cold?

You speak of the courage that people don’t have to fix the ANC from within. I frankly don’t know which ANC meetings you attend. You want me to believe that among the 1,2 million members, all are sheep who don’t speak out at their branches and provinces. You want the country to believe that the ANC’s doors are closed to people like you who can be taken seriously. When last, Comrade Kasrils, did you ever write a simple letter to the president or General Secretary expressing your misgivings about the ANC direction? When last where you in a simple public internal debate of the ANC? When last did you write a simple position paper on any matter of importance to build the movement? The ANC has internal debating journals like ANC Today, where you can write and influence matters. The SACP has Umsebenzi, if you like the red debate more. I have searched for your articles and I have not found any that tell me you have had anything to offer recently – it’s good to quote your revolutionary memoirs, but it is what you are offering today that really matters.

I don’t agree with attacks on you about the Qozo massacre, etc. – and will never contrast them with the tragedy of Marikana, whose truth we are still awaiting. What I don’t understand is whether you are saying the ANC ordered the deaths of Marikana. I see why Julius would stand on the koppie of Marikana, because he has no substance to campaign with otherwise. But you can do better. What is wrong with awaiting the outcome of what happened there from the commission of inquiry underway? What is wrong in assuming that something may have gone wrong the same way that you led a march against Qozo and people died? Has anyone ever blamed you for it? Of course not. I think it would be as mischievous as you saying Marikana is the fault of the ANC. I will suspend my judgement until the commission of inquiry completes its work. Our movement deserves at least the benefit of the doubt from you.

Is there corruption in the ANC? No one has denied this. Is there a will to do something about it? Maybe not enough. Is this enough reason for our people to throw out the ANC baby with the bath water of corruption? Not at all. I disagree with your spoiling campaign and your flimsy example of India – this is not India, and such an act is not provided for in the voting system, hence the word ‘’spoilt”: you cannot attach meaning to a meaningless act. You want me to count 250,000 spoilt votes that were probably the result of illiteracy as a message of some kind. Let me tell you something that is likely to shock you – in percentage terms, the spoilt ballots will be less this time around because of increased consciousness and literacy levels. Are you going to attach more meaning when it happens? Or you will cowardly change your interpretation? Do you realise that your estimation of 600,000 spoilt ballots could mean the voices in Parliament that you are so eager to have for small parties? You have to make up your mind, Comrade Kasrils. You can’t have your cake and eat it.

Let’s talk frankly: your campaign is misguided and false. Pick a party and vote for it like a democrat, with the courage of your convictions. Don’t ask me not to have a say on who must govern me in order to scare the ANC. Don’t ask me to waste the blood of Chris Hani on the altar of your gimmicks.

Yours frankly,

Onkgopotse JJ Tabane DM


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