STRUGGLE stalwart Ronnie Kasrils’ call to ANC supporters to take their dissatisfaction with the way the country is being governed to the May 7 polls was always going to be a hot potato.
Kasrils is a liberation struggle veteran who was prominent in the fight to end apartheid in this country, and a former intelligence minister.
His campaign to “Vote No” has hit a nerve among many within the ANC and also among opposition parties.
One strong view is that his is an irresponsible act: given what millions of disenfranchised citizens had to endure to win the right to vote – the sensible thing to do would be to strengthen democracy not weaken it.
Kasrils joined the ANC and SACP in 1961 and is a founder member and subsequent commander of the organisation’s armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe. He is regarded highly in political circles and by South African society.
So what pushed this die-hard ANC veteran and another ANC stalwart and former cabinet member, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, to urge people to “Vote No”?
Kasrils’ motivation was his disillusionment over how the ANC has performed under President Jacob Zuma.
In a weekend interview, Kasrils made it clear that he is no longer an ANC member and will not vote for it, but he will vote “for a party” and made no bones about it.
At the same time he still wants the ANC to win, but with a reduced majority.
This certainly seems like the position of a man who is somewhat conflicted about what he wants.
The DA says Kasrils cannot have his bread buttered both ways.
Eastern Cape DA leader Athol Trollip lamented: “I have never heard such a stupid thing for real. Kasrils says he wants the ANC to govern but he won’t vote for it. That’s sickness to want a party to govern but you won’t vote for it.”
On the other hand Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has welcomed Kasrils and Madlala-Routledge’s “Vote No” campaign.
He urged people to vote but said Kasrils’ call forced South Africans to be aware of the value and consequences of their vote.
“They are shaking people up: do you know you have a precious thing‚ the vote? Think. . . think about what you want to do with it.”
Kasrils and those with similar views have the right to call for a boycott of the polls or for people to spoil their votes but, at the end of the day, this is a decision that only each individual voter can make.
It is in your hands to make a change or to maintain the status quo or to register discontent. Everyone should use their vote accordingly.