Jeremy Patrick Cronin was born on 12 September 1949 in Durban, Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal). He grew up in Cape Town, the son of a naval officer who died when Cronin was ten. He was raised as a Catholic. Cronin graduated in 1966 from St Joseph's College, then served nine months in the navy and enrolled at the University of Cape Town, where he studied philosophy and English, completing an honours degree in 1971. He was inspired by European and American student radicalism in 1968 and intellectually drawn to Marxism, he made contact with the underground Communist Party through journalist Anthony Holiday and joined while a student. His aim was to further both his education and political involvement, he studied for a master's degree in philosophy in 1972-1973 at the Sorbonne in Paris.
He joined the African National Congress (ANC) and was instructed in propaganda techniques by Ronnie Kasrils. He was the spokesperson for the South African Communist Party (SACP). He worked in the United Democratic Front (UDF) and became an ANC Member of Parliament. He was tried in the Cape Town Supreme Court in September 1976 on charges under the Terrorism and Internal Security Acts. The charges included conspiring with members of the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party(SACP), and preparing and distributing pamphlets on behalf of these organisations. He pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment, which he was to serve in Pretoria Local Prison. Prior to his arrest Cronin was a lecturer in political science at the University of Cape Town and he was due for release in 1983.
On his return to South Africa, Cronin taught at the University of Cape Town and with David, and Sue Rabkin, secretly disseminated SACP and ANC publications. In March 1977 a brief public outcry followed the government's refusal to allow him to attend his wife's funeral. During his imprisonment, he wrote a book of poems, Inside, which was published after his release. He became the Western Cape education officer and editor of its national journal, Isizwe. During the state of emergency declared in June 1986 he went into hiding, then in late 1987 secretly left South Africa, moving between London and Lusaka where he worked for the ANC and SACP. He was elected to the SACP Central Committee at the party's 1989 Havana conference and he also helped draft policy documents for the ANC's committee dealing with internal political units.
On his return from 1990 in exile, Cronin worked to rebuild the SACP, serving on its 22-member leadership committee as the official party spokesperson, and editing the two-party journals, the African Communist and Umsebenzi. He was on the ANC National Executive Committee in 1995. In 1999 he became an ANC member of parliament in 2009 was appointed deputy minister of transport, and later deputy minister of public works. He co-authored 30 Years of the Freedom Charter in 1986 and has published numerous articles and three books of poems.
Gail M. Gerhart, Teresa Barnes, Antony Bugg-Levine, Thomas Karis, Nimrod Mkele .From Protest to Challenge 4-Political Profiles (1882-1990) http://www.jacana.co.za/component/virtuemart/?keyword=from+protest+to+ch... (last accessed 25 October 2018)
- Jeremy Cronin, Deputy Minister for Transport, South Africa, Innovations for Successful Societies, Princeton University
- A Chapter in South African Verse: Interview with Jeremy Cronin
- Cronin, Jeremy [First Interview] - O'Malley, The Heart of Hope
- Cronin, Jeremy [Second Interview] - O'Malley, The Heart of Hope