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Ronnie Kasrils, the Ukraine and Zimbabwe: a case study in communist hypocrisy-ANDREW KENNY

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    Nat Quinn

    Ronnie Kasrils is a case study in communist hypocrisy. He is a textbook example of the callous, dishonest communist who ignores the terrible suffering and oppression his creed has brought to hundreds of millions of people worldwide, especially poor, working-class people.

    He also ignored the terrible suffering of black people in Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s tyranny. Instead he postures with moral outrage against apartheid, which was appalling all right, but not nearly as bad as communism or Mugabe’s reign of terror in Zimbabwe.
    Kasrils has had a recent squabble with Greg Mills and Ray Hartley of the Brenthurst Foundation over Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. They had accused him of downplaying the wickedness of the invasion and supporting South Africa’s decision to take part in a naval exercise with Russia on its anniversary.
    Writing in the Daily Maverick on 10 February, he accused them of doing ‘a hatchet job on me, cynically spinning what I said’. I am not interested in judging Kasrils the man. No doubt he is a loving son, husband and father. I am only interested in his political actions and what he represents. He has a long history of moral duplicity, both in his behaviour before the ANC came to power and afterwards, when he held high office in the ANC government. I want to look at his career of high political dishonesty, here and abroad.
    Let me begin with an extract from this recent article:
     ‘I learnt about Russia and the Soviet Union’s immense sacrifice during World War 2, and the people’s opposition to fascism in all its forms, including the Ukrainian Nazi collaborators and the Soviet people’s deep-rooted commitment to world peace.’
    This is sickening nonsense. For a start, his use of ‘people’ is meaningless since communism has never had any popular support. Worldwide the ‘people’ always reject communism. Working-class people always want to flee from communist countries to capitalist countries, and never the other way round.
    The only people who ever support communism are bourgeois elitists such as Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Fidel Castro. Lenin knew this perfectly well; he knew that communism could only be implemented by force and terror; working-class people had to be crushed into submission.
    Personal rage
    As for ‘the Soviet Union’s immense sacrifice during World War 2’, I feel a personal rage against this distortion of history. My father, a Scottish merchant seaman, risked his life on the Atlantic Ocean bringing grain from Canada to England in the 1940s, while Hitler’s U-boats were trying to sink his ship. And who encouraged Hitler to start WW2? Why, Comrade Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union – the General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party.
    WW2 would not have happened, and six million Jews would not have subsequently been slaughtered, if Stalin had not signed the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact with Hitler on 23 August 1939. This freed Hitler of the threat of an eastern war front, so that he could launch his war in the west. By August 1939, Stalin knew exactly what sort of man he was making a deal with.
    By then Hitler had imposed a brutal, racist dictatorship on Germany, invaded Austria and Czechoslovakia, persecuted Jews, and announced very clearly in Mein Kampf that his ultimate aim was to conquer Russia. Yet Stalin was happy to treat with Hitler, happy to help him conquer and kill, and enslave nations.
    As part of their pact, Germany invaded Poland from the west (which started WW2) and a while later the Soviet Union invaded her from the east, killing over 20 000 Polish officers at Katyn in the process. Kasrils ignores this Soviet support of Nazism on a massive scale and instead accuses the Ukraine of harbouring the little Azov Battalion!
    Served Hitler faithfully
    Stalin only ever trusted two men in all his life: Vladimir Lenin and Adolf Hitler. He served Hitler faithfully, giving him all the raw materials he needed for his conquests. He sent Hitler his warmest congratulations after the Nazis had captured France. Anything Hitler wanted the Soviet Union was delighted to give him; the communists were eager to help the Nazis. Then on 22 June 1941, Hitler invaded Russia – as everybody apart from Stalin had expected would eventually happen.
    Then did indeed begin a heroic fight back by the Russian people, with horrible loss of life. (Stalin hastily abandoned his communist polemics and instead appealed to pure Russian nationalism, he gave up being a Communist leader and became a traditional Tzar, in order to appeal to the people.)
    Britain, a capitalist country, had resisted Hitler from the beginning of his plundering. Churchill in 1940 had no need to continue the war against Hitler. It was not in Britain’s interest to do so. Nonetheless, Churchill, acting mainly for moral reasons, to protect Europe for democracy, chose to continue to resist Hitler. Britain, alone, fought against the might of Hitler’s National Socialist Third Reich.
    When Hitler invaded Russia, Churchill, the arch-capitalist, immediately swung his full support behind Stalin. Britain and then the USA provided huge quantities of aeroplanes, tanks, tractors, trucks, jeeps and clothing to Russia, without which she might have been defeated by the Germans.
    The Ukraine, then a Soviet colony, was perhaps the worst victim of all in the Soviet Union. In 1928, knowing full well that market agriculture could feed the people and socialist agriculture could not, Stalin decided nonetheless to force farmers into collectivised farms run by the state. The result was a terrible famine, in which about 10 million people died, including about 5 million in the rich agricultural lands of the Ukraine. This communist famine became known as the Holodomor.
    Communism collapsed in Russia in 1989 when Michael Gorbachev, a good man, tried to reform it. Of course, communism, like apartheid, could not be reformed, but only ended. Gorbachev allowed it to end peacefully, and allowed the Soviet Empire to break up, and the Soviet colonies to become free, independent countries.
    This is greatly to his credit. I believe that, as a gesture of goodwill, the West should then have scrapped Nato, which after all was just a system of military defence against attack by the Soviet Union – which no longer existed. But I understand that the ex-colonies, which had suffered terribly under the Soviet Empire, might not have approved. Indeed, many of them clamoured to join Nato. The West did not foist Nato on them; they wanted Nato themselves.
    Gangster state
    The collapse of communism in Russia did not lead to democracy and the free market; it led to the KGB’s becoming a Mafia, and Russia’s becoming a gangster state, with Vladimir Putin eventually emerging as its godfather. Gangsterism was better than communism.
    Putin definitely improved the Russian economy at first, as I saw clearly in my only visit there, to Moscow, in 2016. Nonetheless, Russia remained an autocracy, strangling enterprise, driving skilled, talented young people overseas, and stagnating as an economic force, falling further and further behind the West, which Putin and his oligarchs were only too aware of – and which they much resented.
    The Ukraine during this time was corrupt and riven by faction. Scandal after scandal racked her governments and confused her politics. One faction wanted closer links with Russia, another bigger faction wanted closer links with the European Union (EU).
    In 2014, President Yanukovych, who was pro-Russian and against integration with the EU, was overthrown by protesters, who it seemed had mass popular support. I can’t claim to understand much of these complicated politics, but I am crystal clear about one thing: the Russian invasion of the Ukraine on 24 February 2022 was an abomination, which must be condemned out of hand. (It does seem to have united the Ukrainian people, though.
    The popularity of Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, has rocketed since the invasion.) The Ukraine presented not the slightest threat to Russia. There was not the slightest possibility that the Ukraine would ever attack Russia. The invasion was not a result of ‘desperation’ but a result of something quite different in Putin’s mind, something more like wounded pride or resentment; in spite of his hopes of becoming a new Great Russian Tzar, his Russia was falling further and further behind the West, and his former colonies were showing no respect for him.
    Russian apologists
    Kasrils is among the Russian apologists who want to downplay Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine because the West had done a lot of bad things before. It had. The US war in Vietnam, the invasion of Iraq and the violent overthrow of Gadhafi in Libya were all atrocious acts, all leading to huge bloodshed and chaos, increasing terrorism not reducing it. Good men condemn all of them. And good men condemn Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. Kasrils is not one of them.
    In South Africa, Kasrils first came to public prominence in the Bisho massacre of 7 September 1992. Please note that this was after President de Klerk had essentially ended apartheid in 1990 and after negotiations had begun for a democratic South Africa. On that day, Kasrils led 28 men to their deaths at the hands of the Ciskei Defence Force. He himself emerged completely unscathed.
    Kasrils says what shocked him into joining the struggle against apartheid was the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, when panic-stricken white policemen shot dead 69 black protesters who had been engaged in a peaceful demonstration that seems to have gone wrong. Some were shot in the back as they were trying to run away.
    Twenty years later, Robert Mugabe came to power in Zimbabwe. One of his first acts was to order the deliberate, cold-blooded slaughter of over 20 000 Ndebele civilians in the extermination campaign of Gukurahundi, which took place between 1983 and 1987. The pretext was some isolated terrorist acts in Matabeleland; the real reason was to crush the ancient tribal enemy, which had dared to vote against him in 1980.
    Mugabe’s henchman in the killing was Emmerson Mnangagwa, now President of Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s death squads would enter an Ndebele village and murder men, women and children. Sometimes they would rip unborn babies out of their mothers’ wombs, claiming they carried the children of ‘dissidents’.
    The ANC, then in exile, in Zimbabwe and elsewhere, was perfectly aware of the massacres, but when it came to power in South Africa in 1994 it said not a word about it. The ANC treated Mugabe, the racist mass murderer next door, as a great African hero and ‘liberator’.
    Crime against humanity
    I never heard Kasrils, Deputy Minister of Defence in the ANC government of 1994, say a word about Gukurahundi. Did he think that the panicky killing of 69 black people in Sharpeville was a crime against humanity but the cold-blooded, carefully planned slaughter of over 20 000 black people in Matabeleland was perfectly acceptable?
    Mugabe went on to entrench his tyranny. In 2000, after losing a referendum, he ordered the violent seizure of private farms, throwing 750 000 black farm workers and their families into destitution, into hunger, sometimes into starvation. The ANC clapped and cheered.
    In November 2005, Ronnie Kasrils, then Minister for Intelligence, opened the Ministerial Session of the RSA/Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security. He spoke of the historical ties of ‘the liberation struggles of Southern Africa and the resultant shedding of blood for a common cause’.
    Did he include the shedding of blood at Gukurahundi? Mugabe lost every election since 2000 but crooked the results, with the full approval of the ANC. In March 2008, Mugabe lost the election by a landslide. He sent his soldiers and policemen to beat, torture, mutilate and kill people suspected of voting against him or of working for the opposition. Hospitals were filled with people with broken bones.
    Peter Godwin has written a frightening account of the carnage is his book, The Fear. Here is a passage:
    ‘Brenda Meister is haunted by the story of a woman who went out with one of her year-old twin boys to run errands, leaving the other baby at home with his father. When she returned, she found her husband dead on the floor next to her son, who had been decapitated. The Mugabe thugs who had done this grabbed her and gang-raped her next to her headless baby and her husband’s corpse, while the other baby sat crying nearby.’
    Naturally the ANC gave its full support to Robert Mugabe. Its ‘quiet diplomacy’ consisted of thunderous applause for him. President Mbeki was asked to mediate in the matter – the very subtle matter of whether the party that won the majority of the votes in 2008 should become the new government or whether Mugabe’s party, which had lost heavily, should retain power.
    Mbeki, of course, arranged for the latter, and so Zimbabwe was doomed. I don’t know if Ronnie Kasrils, as Minister of Intelligence under Mbeki, played any part in this but I certainly don’t remember him saying a single word against Mugabe’s terror or a single word about honouring the election verdict of the people of Zimbabwe.
    We know communism was worse than apartheid, because under communism millions of ordinary people wanted to flee, and under apartheid ordinary people did not want to flee. On the contrary, ordinary people from the rest of Africa wanted to enter South Africa; only political activists left apartheid South Africa in any numbers.
    We know Zimbabwe under Mugabe was worse than apartheid, because millions of ordinary people wanted to flee from Zimbabwe, and millions of ordinary people did not want to flee from South Africa. Apartheid, dreadful though it was, was not as bad as communism or the rule of Robert Mugabe.
    I say again, I have nothing personal against Ronnie Kasrils. I am only attacking him here because he is a representative member – a very prominent one – of the racist hypocrites in South Africa and around the world who thunder against apartheid while ignoring or even praising worse tyrannies, showing utter contempt for poor oppressed people.


    Ronnie Kasrils, the Ukraine and Zimbabwe: a case study in communist hypocrisy – Daily Friend

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