Jeremy Cronin

South African Communist Party Jacob Zuma African National Congress

Jeremy Cronin
Deputy Minister of Public Works
In office
12 June 2012 – February 2018
PresidentJacob Zuma
Deputy Minister of Transport
In office
11 May 2009 – 12 June 2012
PresidentJacob Zuma
Succeeded byLydia Sindiswe Chikunga
Personal details
Born (1949-09-12) 12 September 1949 (age 71)
NationalitySouth African
Political partySouth African Communist Party
Other political
African National Congress
ResidenceCape Town, South Africa
Alma materUniversity of Cape Town (BA)
Sorbonne University (MA)

Jeremy Cronin (born 12 September 1949) is a South African writer, author, and noted poet. A longtime activist in politics, Cronin is a member of the South African Communist Party and a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress.[1] He served as the South African Deputy Minister of Public Works from 2012 until his retirement in 2019.[2]

Early life

Cronin was brought up in a White middle-class Roman Catholic family in Rondebosch in Cape Town, South Africa. During adolescence, he considered the idea of entering the priesthood. After a year's military service, when he was conscripted in the South African Navy, Cronin won a bursary to study at the University of Cape Town in 1968; there he became a member of the Radical Student Society and was subsequently recruited into the (banned) South African Communist Party (SACP).

In the early 1970s, Cronin studied for his Master's degree in Philosophy in France and returned to South Africa, where he began lecturing in the Philosophy department at the University of Cape Town.

Activism and imprisonment

Cronin's work in the propaganda unit of the SACP brought him to the attention of the South African Bureau of State Security; he was arrested on charges under the Terrorism and Internal Security Acts and tried in the Cape Town Supreme Court in September 1976, along with David Rabkin and his wife Sue.[3] The charges included conspiring with members of the African National Congress (also a banned organisation) and the SACP, and preparing and distributing pamphlets on these organisations' behalf (activities commemorated in Cronin's poem "A Step Away from Them," modelled on a poem of the same title by American poet Frank O'Hara). Cronin pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment (1976–1983).[1] He served his time in Pretoria Local, or Pretoria Prison, which was part of the Pretoria Central Prison complex, along with Denis Goldberg, Raymond Suttner and others. He participated in the planning of a daring escape in 1979 by Tim Jenkin, Stephen Lee and Alex Moumbaris.[3] His wife Anne Marie died of a brain tumour during his imprisonment.[4]


Cronin's first book of poetry, Inside, was published in 1984 following his release from prison.[5] Subsequent volumes include Even the Dead (1997) and Inside and Out (1999). His most recent collection, More Than A Casual Contact, was published in 2006. Among his best known poems is "Motho Ke Motho Ka Batho Babang", whose title is taken from the Zulu aphorism "A person is a person because of other people".

Collected poems


Following Cronin's release from prison he began working with the United Democratic Front (UDF), founded in 1983, where he worked as the editor of its theoretical journal Isizwe (The Nation). He was also involved in various kinds of popular education, but in the late 1980s, increased harassment from the security forces forced him and his wife to leave South Africa and move first to London, then to Lusaka in Zambia, where he worked closely with Joe Slovo for the ANC/SACP alliance. In the 1990s, he worked in the SACP head office in Johannesburg, where he was deputy general secretary of the party. He became a member of parliament in 1999. His interviews with Helena Sheehan[6] in 2001 and 2002 met with a storm of controversy, because of his left critique of the ANC during the presidency of Thabo Mbeki. He was forced to apologise to the ANC in 2002.[7] He delivered the Chris Hani memorial lecture, titled Why South Africa will never be like Zimbabwe, in Durban on 4 May 2008.[8] On 10 May 2009, President Jacob Zuma appointed him Deputy Minister of Transport, and in 2012 he moved to become Deputy Minister of Public Works. In May 2019, he retired from parliament and government office.

Political writings

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b Jeremy Cronin Archived 13 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine Who's Who
  2. ^ "Changes to National Executive and South African Police Service" (Press release). Government of South Africa. 12 June 2012. Archived from the original on 23 June 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  3. ^ a b Jenkin, Tim (1987). "Escape from Pretoria" (PDF). South African History Online: 67–69. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  4. ^ Sheehan, Helena (2001). "Interview with Jeremy Cronin". Academia.
  5. ^ Jeremy Cronin Archived 4 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine Random House
  6. ^ Sheehan, Helena (2002). "Interviews with Jeremy Cronin". Academia.
  7. ^ Marais, Hein (2011). South Africa Pushed to the Limit. London / New York: Zed Books.
  8. ^ Why South Africa will never be like Zimbabwe Chris Hani memorial lecture 4 May 2008