New Book Launched at UKZN Seminar
ANC veteran Professor Ben Turok discussed his new book With My Head Above the Parapet: An Insider Account of the ANC in Power, at a seminar hosted by the School of Social Sciences and the Centre for Civil Society.
The book, launched a few weeks before Turok’s retirement from Parliament, is a record of his experiences as a participant in the political life of the country since 1994.
It is also an insightful account of the ANC’s decline and current malaise, told by an insider intent on holding his party to its historical mission of liberating South Africa from poverty, inequality and discrimination.
Speaking about the title for the book, Turok said it reflected his stance of always taking risks by putting his head above the parapet.
Turok described and analysed the ANC’s years in power, the achievements and the failures of the organisation, often enticing the audience with snippets from his autobiography and lived experiences mentioned in the book which contains some of Zapiro’s cartoons.
He shared his experiences working in parliament, drafting the Bill of Rights, working as the Head of the Reconstruction and Development Programme in Gauteng and his 25 years of exile.
He also spoke about his work as co-chair of the Ethics Committee mentioning two controversial cases involving former Communications Minister Dina Pule and ANC MP Yolanda Botha, who faced charges of fraud and corruption.
‘This book will search for the sources of the decline and record my experience as a participant. I write as an insider, but not so deeply embedded as to need to be defensive. So this is no lament about what might have been, nor is it written in bitterness.
‘I do not feel, as some who were participants, that my lifelong commitment has been betrayed. Rather, I want to stand back and try to work out what has gone wrong and why.’
*Professor Ben Turok is a former anti-apartheid activist and veteran ANC MP. He played a key role in the writing of the Freedom Charter, in particular its chapter dealing with economic equality. In November 2011, he broke party ranks and did not vote for the controversial Protection of Information Bill, also known as the Secrecy Bill. He has three degrees, in engineering, philosophy and political science and is the author of 20 books on Africa’s development economics and politics.
Turok has lectured at many universities across Africa, and presented papers at numerous conferences and seminars including the United Nations and the European Parliamentary Assembly. He taught at the Open University in the United Kingdom for many years, the University of Zambia, and is visiting Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
- Melissa Mungroo