KASRILS, RONNIE


KASRILS, RONNIE (1938– ), South African resistance leader and politician. Kasrils was a member of the banned South African Communist Party (SACP) and was active in the armed wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), from its creation. He was in MK's Natal regional command and personally carried out acts of sabotage and organized a major operation to provide it with dynamite. In 1962, he received a five-year banning order and narrowly escaped arrest under new security legislation. He remained on the run from the security police until October 1963, when he went abroad for military training. After several years in the ANC office in Dar es Salaam, Kasrils moved to London, where he worked with other exiled South African activists like Joe Slovo in establishing underground MK units in South Africa. In 1977, he held various senior positions within the resistance movements in Southern Africa, including Angola, Mozambique, and Zambia. He was chief of military intelligence in 1983–88 and was a coopted member of the ANC National Executive Committee from 1987. He was also a member of the SACP Central Committee and Politburo. With the onset of the reform process, he returned to South Africa in 1990. Following the transition to nonracial democracy in 1994, he served terms as deputy minister of defense (1994–99) and minister of water affairs and forestry (1999–2004). During the latter period, he took the lead in promoting local Jewish opposition to the policies of the State of Israel. He was appointed minister of intelligence in 2004. He wrote an autobiography called Armed and Dangerous; My Undercover Struggle Against Apartheid (1993).

[David Saks (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.