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‘The Genocide has to be stopped now’ – Ronnie Kasrils

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Veteran South African anti-apartheid activist Ronnie Kasrils, addressing the first Global Anti-Apartheid Conference held in Johannesburg, May 2024, says ‘we can never make change without the mobilisation of the masses’. – Picture: Nurah Tape / Palestine Chronicle

By Nurah Tape

“Our four pillars incidentally took us 30 years to develop and crystallise. We don’t have 30 years. There’s the genocide. The genocide has to be stopped now.”

Veteran South African anti-apartheid activist Ronnie Kasrils has highlighted armed struggle and international solidarity among the important elements that paved the way for the country’s freedom, drawing parallels to the Palestinian struggle.

Addressing the first Global Anti-Apartheid Conference held in Johannesburg, Kasrils pointed out, “Our four pillars incidentally took us 30 years to develop and crystallise. We don’t have 30 years. There’s the genocide. The genocide has to be stopped now.”

He said the key overriding factor in the struggle was “clear politics, policy, unity,” along with “the mass struggle of the people”, adding “We can never make change without the mobilisation of the masses.”

The former Intelligence Minister emphasised “an underground” as another important aspect, saying, “We have seen how an underground has functioned right in Gaza and in the West Bank, and reached the most impressive heights.”

He said the underground aspect of South Africa’s struggle “brought the message of leadership to our people.”

“In those days through leaflets and pamphlets, giving leadership and guidance to the people, to public organisations of youth, of women, of trade unions and so on. Absolutely essential.”

Right to Resist with Arms

A third important aspect that Kasrils highlighted was “the right of armed struggle, an international right of resistance against tyranny, against military occupation.”

“There is no need to pussyfoot around the fact when we have our discussions about the right of the Palestinians to resist with arms,” he said. “And the Palestinian people are showing that in terms of their armed struggle … it’s past (the) guerilla stage of struggle.”

Kasrils was a founding member of Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the paramilitary wing of the now-ruling African National Congress (ANC) which engaged in armed struggle against the South African apartheid regime.

The fourth key factor noted by Kasrils in the freedom struggle was that of international solidarity, “from the ANC to FRELIMO, to the Angolan comrades, the Zimbabwean comrades, the Vietnamese comrades.”

“As was the case with the South African anti-apartheid movement,” Kasrils said, it is important “to form such pressure in the streets, in the mobilisation, and we see it, we see it before our eyes today in the most unbelievable way.”

‘Divest from Israel’

He mentioned boycotts, “divestment, sanctions against … apartheid Israel, and the BDS movement is growing and growing”, adding, “And we see the students in the US saying … to their universities and colleges, divest from Israel.”

Kasrils emphasised: “It’s been unheard of, it’s come to an absolute crystallisation of the struggle and the support that the Palestinians are getting globally. And that for us in South Africa, that fourth pillar, we saw throughout those 30 years.”

The struggle activist was one of many influential speakers who addressed the conference held from May 10 – 12 at the Sandton Convention Centre which aimed to set the basis for the mobilisation of a Global Anti-Apartheid Movement “to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people, and to work to dismantle Israeli apartheid,” according to the conference organisers.”

Speakers included Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation; Yvonne Dausab, Namibia’s Justice Minister; Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council; Dr Ahmet Davutoğlu, the former Turkish Prime Minister; and Declan Kearney, Chairperson of the Ireland’s Sinn Fein party.

Nurah Tape is a South Africa-based journalist. She is an editor with The Palestine Chronicle.