ANC leader calls for IRR to be closed down

Staff Writer | Jun 27, 2019
A senior ANC leader, Mr Derek Hanekom, has taken to Twitter to say that the IRR should ‘close down’. Mr Hanekom is an activist and former Cabinet minister who serves on the board of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

He served in the first Cabinet after the 1994 elections. In 2012 he was again elevated to the Cabinet by Jacob Zuma and served in the Cabinet until 2017, when shortly before Mr Zuma’s axing, he proposed a motion of no confidence in Zuma. His term in cabinet coincided with the near-collapse of the South African economy, the erosion of democratic institutions and the rule of law, and the proliferation of extraordinary levels of corruption.   

He subsequently joined the administration of Cyril Ramaphosa and served for a further year in the Cabinet before losing his job after the May elections. News media have tipped Mr Hanekom for a new role in the Presidency.  

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, on which Mr Hanekom serves, is a left-wing activist group with close ties to similar organisations around the world. The Foundation, for example, published a glowing tribute to Fidel Castro praising his corrupt and murderous regime and writing that 'Castro came from a generation of leaders, who envisioned a more equitable society, based on mutual cooperation, especially between developing nations…Castro who received the loudest applause from the audience at the Union Buildings in 1994, as Mandela was sworn in as President. The only other world leader to have come close to receiving the welcome that Castro did, was the Palestinian icon, Yasser Arafat.' He also said, 'Castro also called for a more equitable society…as we remember his legacy, it is this message for a “more generous, more jointly responsible, more humane” society that should continue inspiring us.'

In 2015 the Foundation hosted five Cuban intelligence officers who had been convicted of crimes ranging from espionage to conspiracy to murder in the United States, related to their efforts at infiltrating and destabilising Cuban civil rights groups in Florida. 

Mr Hanekom is a proponent of allowing the state to seize assets without compensation. In 2018 South African news media reported that Mr Hanekom had described whites as thieves who had stolen South Africa’s land, and said that under certain circumstances it was justified for the state to confiscate land without compensation. 

The IRR has throughout its history been an arch-opponent of communist dictatorships such as that in Cuba. The IRR has been a particularly outspoken opponent of the government’s nationalisation scheme that would see large tracts of land and other assets being vested in the state. The IRR has also gone to great lengths to counter racial nationalist stigmatization, and to emphasize the common ground that unites the great majority of moderate South Africans – black and white. It has further warned at length about communist influence in the government and the ruling party and the implications for economic recovery, civil rights, and the rule of law. In addition, the IRR seeks to promote a policy of constructive engagement with Israel.  

Throughout the apartheid era the IRR suffered harassment and intimidation and faced down numerous efforts to undermine and discredit its work in exposing the evils of that system and advocating for reform.

While many observers thought that threats to South Africa’s future as a free and open society would dissipate after apartheid, this has proven not to be the case, with the space for the free articulation of ideas being ever more hemmed in by intimidation, proposed hate speech laws and tribunals, social media lynch mobs, and a crippling tide of political correctness.  


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