Excerpt: Ronnie Kasrils Discusses the ANC’s “Faustian Moment” in Updated Edition of Armed and Dangerous
Ronnie Kasrils has dedicated the new edition of his memoir, Armed and Dangerous: From Undercover Struggle to Freedom, to the born frees. In this excerpt from the new introduction to the book, published in The Guardian, Kasrils writes about the ANC’s “Faustian moment”, saying that, “From 1991 to 1996 the battle for the ANC’s soul got under way, and was eventually lost to corporate power”.
The moment came, Kasrils writes, when the ANC took a loan from the IMF, which he says was a result of the party letting doubt take over: “Inexcusably, we had lost faith in the ability of our own revolutionary masses to overcome all obstacles”.
Read the full excerpt:
South Africa’s young people today are known as the Born Free generation. They enjoy the dignity of being born into a democratic society with the right to vote and choose who will govern. But modern South Africa is not a perfect society. Full equality – social and economic – does not exist, and control of the country’s wealth remains in the hands of a few, so new challenges and frustrations arise. Veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle like myself are frequently asked whether, in the light of such disappointment, the sacrifice was worth it. While my answer is yes, I must confess to grave misgivings: I believe we should be doing far better.
There have been impressive achievements since the attainment of freedom in 1994: in building houses, crèches, schools, roads and infrastructure; the provision of water and electricity to millions; free education and healthcare; increases in pensions and social grants; financial and banking stability; and slow but steady economic growth (until the 2008 crisis at any rate). These gains, however, have been offset by a breakdown in service delivery, resulting in violent protests by poor and marginalised communities; gross inadequacies and inequities in the education and health sectors; a ferocious rise in unemployment; endemic police brutality and torture; unseemly power struggles within the ruling party that have grown far worse since the ousting of Mbeki in 2008; an alarming tendency to secrecy and authoritarianism in government; the meddling with the judiciary; and threats to the media and freedom of expression. Even Nelson Mandela’s privacy and dignity are violated for the sake of a cheap photo opportunity by the ANC’s top echelon.