Jeremy Cronin, who calls himself a revolutionary, has gone out of his way to use his own standing in the broad democratic movement to help facilitate the advance of the counter revolution, writes Thami Ntenteni.
May this year a few of us, members of the ANC Veterans League, issued a
document entitled “Discussion Document on Counter Revolution, State
Capture and Corruption in South Africa” (Discussion Document).
All of us had taken note and fully agreed with an important observation
contained in the 2019 election manifesto of our movement, the ANC, which was
issued in January this year. That observation said:
“The ANC acknowledges that we made mistakes
and veered off course.
“As a nation, we have learned the harsh impact
of corruption on society and the economy. We have witnessed the loss of
integrity in some of the institutions of state, business and political and
other organisations. We have learned hard lessons about the vigilance needed to
stop lawlessness, greed and selfishness from taking root.
“We are resolved to work with our people to
address this cancer in our society.”
We welcomed this admission because already in October
2016, as members of the ANC Stalwarts and Veterans we had issued the document
entitled “For the Sake of our Future” which drew attention to the
ills which were afflicting the ANC.
This was followed by the November 2017 Declaration of the National Consultative
Conference which made concrete proposals to address the challenges we had
identified the previous year. As it happens those proposals are also directly
relevant to the observation in the 2019 election manifesto we have quoted.
It is obvious that by the time we issued our
Discussion Document in May this year we had spent considerable time trying to
understand the nature of the disease – the general crisis – which was and is clearly
destroying our country. We were doing this because we believed and believe that
the ANC in particular had and has a responsibility to lead the struggle to defeat
that disease and must therefore understand the true nature of the challenge our
As we continued to study our situation in depth we
came to the conclusion that our country faces much more than a challenge of
corruption and greed and the other negative features mentioned in the ANC election
Rather we face a very serious problem of counter
Discussion Document therefore contains such statements as:
is clear that the country is in the grip of a general political, economic and
social crisis which became entrenched in the last nine to ten years.
“This crisis became entrenched because our system of
governance had been captured by forces beholden to the counter-revolution…
“The strategic challenge which confronts all forces which value the
defence of our people’s democratic gains is to unite to defeat the
anti-democratic counter revolution.”
It is obvious that it would be irresponsible of us to
make such a serious statement with no evidence to support it.
Our Discussion Document therefore details at some
length material contained in the report of the “Commission of Inquiry into Tax
Administration and Governance by the South African Revenue Service”
appointed by President Ramaphosa on May 23, 2018 and chaired by retired Judge Robert Nugent.
Among other things the Nugent report says:
“The transition of SARS from what it was to what it became was
brought about by events that are shocking. We think what occurred can fairly be
described as a premeditated offensive against SARS, strategized by the local
office of Bain & Company Inc, located in Boston, for Mr Moyane to seize
SARS, each in pursuit of their own interests that were symbiotic, but not
altogether the same. Mr Moyane’s interest was to take control of SARS…
“I [Judge Nugent] reported in my interim report that the (weakening
of SARS) was brought about by at least reckless mismanagement on the part of Mr
Moyane. We have heard much evidence since then.
“What has become clear is that what occurred at SARS was inevitable
the moment Mr Moyane set foot in SARS. He arrived without integrity and then
dismantled the elements of governance one by one. This was more than mere
mismanagement. It was seizing control of SARS as if it was his to have.”
The question obviously arises – why would Moyane want to seize control
of SARS as if it was his to have?
A thorough reading of the Nugent report shows that what Moyane was about
was to destroy SARS. The Discussion Document reproduces the various instances
in the Nugent report which detail what Moyane and others working with him did
to destroy SARS.
Interestingly, the Nugent report makes no allegation or assertion that Moyane
corruptly acquired (stole) any of the money which SARS collects. This was not
SARS provides our democratic state/government with 95-98% of the revenue
it needs to carry out its tasks. This means that to destroy SARS, as Moyane
tried to do, is in essence to destroy the democratic state itself!
That defines, exactly, the meaning of counter revolution as targeted, in
our case, against the democratic revolution which emerged victorious in 1994.
And then enters comrade
Jeremy Cronin. And he enters to make a very firm statement that we are entirely
wrong to argue that our country is confronted by the fact of a counter
revolutionary offensive. He makes this assertion in an article published on News24,
entitled “Zuma’s conspiracy
narrative a timely warning against the dangers of paranoia”.
Comrade Cronin is a member of the Central
Committee (CC) of our ally, the SACP, and was, for many years, a member of the national
executive committee (NEC) of the ANC. All this suggests that we should take the
views of such a senior comrade seriously. However, there are some matters which
raise major concerns about his intervention.
On June, 9, 2019 the SACP CC issued a major statement which, among other things, said:
“The CC in its deliberations about the challenges facing our
country has come to the conclusion
that what may appear to be merely corrupt and parasitic networks of state
capture has now become a counter-revolution directed at crippling the
ANC from within and frustrating the capacity of the democratic government to
pursue the objective of changing the lives of our people for the better…
“Any sustained attack on the capacity of both the
ANC the Alliance, as well as the democratic government, to carry out their
mandate, constitutes a counter-revolution and should be understood and
characterised as such.”
This statement of the CC shows that our ally had come
exactly to the same conclusion we explained in our Discussion Document
concerning the fact of the counter revolution. We therefore find it very
strange indeed that a mere five weeks after the SACP CC decision we have cited,
comrade Cronin would take to the media boldly to declare that all talk of
counter revolution is pure hogwash.
This matter is further complicated by what Cronin said on July 27, 2019.
This was in a lecture entitled “The Vanguard Role of the SACP” which he
delivered on the occasion of the 98th anniversary of the party.
During the lecture Cronin said:
“So where is
the ANC in all of this? Significant and factionalised parts of the ANC’s
organisational machinery now constitute the most clear and present danger to
our democracy at this time. The state-capture faction has bled social property
dry, notably through looting SOEs, a key potential for driving a national
counter-revolution is not located in some marginal white, ultra-right formation
or in the CIA headquarters in Langley. It is inside of the ANC itself and,
thanks to looting, it is relatively well resourced. In the face of this
counter-revolution, the ANC is, at best, often flat-footed. At worst, it has
become the counter-revolution’s HQ.”
are we supposed to make of this sequence of events?
On June 9, the SACP CC says our country is confronted by counter revolution. Five weeks later,
Cronin writes that there is no such counter revolution. And then ten days after
this, on July 27, the same comrade Cronin says, yes, our country is confronted
by counter revolution.
We do not
know whether comrade Cronin will ever provide a cogent and credible explanation
for this very puzzling and disturbing zigzag. Neither can we explain the basis
on which he denounced our Discussion Document.
regard he started by characterising what comrade Jacob Zuma said when he
appeared before the Zondo commission concerning what he described as long-standing
efforts by “enemy intelligence agencies” to destroy him politically,
including by using people within the ANC who he said had worked as agents of
the Zuma presentation, Cronin cited two words negatively to characterise that presentation.
These words are paranoia and nostalgia. He therefore makes the assertion that
we too, the authors of the Discussion Document, because we sound the alert
about counter revolution, are similarly afflicted by paranoia and nostalgia.
This is to
lay the basis for the bold assertion he then makes, in these words:
a grand political strategic objective to the phenomenon of state capture is a
mistake. The democratic revolution is collateral damage, not the strategic objective
of the state capturers… State capture has been driven by a greedy
network in pursuit of industrial-scale looting of public resources.”
He then states
in his concluding paragraph:
“Let’s focus on the actual misdeeds of state capture itself, as I
believe the Zondo commission is seeking to do. Let’s better understand how and
why it was allowed to fester. And let’s not get sucked into diversionary
narratives and counter-narratives based on a conspiratorial nostalgia for a different time.”
And there we
says – pay attention to Zondo; ignore Nugent!
general crisis facing our country as having been caused by corrupt individuals
who have looted public resources. Abandon all ideas that such looting itself
serves the purposes of the counter revolution. Catch the greedy and corrupt
individuals and the country will return to good health.
True to his
injunction – ignore Nugent – Cronin does not challenge even one of the pieces
of evidence presented in the Nugent report and cited in our Discussion Document
concerning the deliberate effort to destroy SARS. This is because he has no
facts of any kind to counter any of the many truths contained in the Nugent report.
Cronin wants to divert us away from these truths by arguing that all that
happened was, among others, the “capture (re-purposing) of… SARS” for
the sole purpose to “facilitate” the looting of public resources!
To explain the
deep damage that was being done by the counter revolution, our Discussion
would like to observe that what has happened in our country especially in the
last nine to ten years has been:
severe weakening of the democratic movement, including the ANC, the Alliance
and other formations of the broad democratic movement;
radical weakening of various institutions of the democratic State, including
SARS, the SAPS, the NPA, and others;
weakening of the capacity of the State to apprehend and stop the wrong-doers in
order to end the corruption expressed as the looting of public funds, as was
done by the Guptas, Watsons et al and their collaborators;
destruction of the commitment to particular ethical standards and a work
culture within the Civil Service, which committed this Service to the value to
serve the people; and,
severe weakening of commitment to the obligation by the public sector to
account to the people about the management and use of public resources,
resulting in huge sums of public funds being diverted to individual criminal
gain by various individuals.
“This is exactly what the counter-revolution has sought to achieve
as an essential part of its advance towards the defeat of the Democratic
Strangely for somebody who calls himself a revolutionary, comrade Cronin
brushed all this destruction aside as mere “collateral damage”,
insisting that the actual problem on which the nation should focus is stopping
the looting of public resources.
demands that we call a spade a spade. Cronin intervened on July 17 through
News24 to try to demobilise the struggle against the counter revolutionary
offensive to defeat the democratic revolution, arguing that the systematic
subversion of the democratic revolution is mere “collateral damage”
caused by the greed of some individuals and was not the result of counter
We were puzzled
to read in his article that we, the authors of the Discussion Document, were,
according to him, “Mbeki-aligned”.
understood the purpose of this strange statement when we read his July 27 lecture.
In this lecture he makes it a point to join others opposed to our movement, the
ANC, to attack and discredit comrade Mbeki on the basis of a peculiar “left”
argument. It is therefore clear that comrade Cronin also sought to discredit us
by describing us as “Mbeki-aligned” and thus persuade the people to
dismiss the message we were communicating about the reality of the counter
manoeuvres help us to get closer to understanding why Cronin, who calls himself
a revolutionary, has gone out of his way to use his own standing in the broad
democratic movement, and whether wittingly or not, to help facilitate the advance
of the counter revolution and therefore the possible defeat of the democratic
– Thami Ntenteni is a Veteran and Stalwart of the ANC and he writes in his private capacity.
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