Unity in outrage at Kathrada’s memorial

2017-04-02 07:44
Axed finance minister Pravin Gordhan seated in between axed tourism minister Derek Hanekom and former first lady Graça Machel at the memorial service of Ahmed Kathrada at the Johannesburg City Hall yesterday. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

Axed finance minister Pravin Gordhan seated in between axed tourism minister Derek Hanekom and former first lady Graça Machel at the memorial service of Ahmed Kathrada at the Johannesburg City Hall yesterday. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

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WATCH: SA speaks about Kathrada - 'a man of integrity'

2017-04-01 18:53

Mourners on the sidelines of the memorial service for Ahmed Kathrada honour the man that he was.WATCH

It was a packed Johannesburg City Hall where a coalition of the outraged gathered yesterday afternoon to pay their last respects to struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada.

As axed finance minister Pravin Gordhan exhorted those present to mobilise against state capture and a raid on the Treasury, Kathrada’s widow Barbara Hogan angrily called on President Jacob Zuma to leave office.

Among those present were sitting Cabinet members Ebrahim Patel (minister of economic development) and Aaron Motsoaledi (minister of health).

And Zuma’s critics kept on coming, from the well-known to the ordinary citizen.

On the sidelines of the memorial service, former social development minister and High Commissioner to London, Zola Skweyiya, said the ANC should have recalled Zuma a long time ago.

“It’s clear that the ANC national executive committee (NEC) is afraid of Zuma. What I don’t understand is what Zuma has on them... How can one man hold a party that is more than 100 years old hostage?” he asked.

“The NEC needs to recall Zuma because if they don’t, he will destroy this country.”

Elizabeth Manaka, 62, from Katlehong said she had never met Kathrada, but when she heard how he had written to Zuma asking him to step down, she was prompted to come and celebrate his life.

“I couldn’t make it to the funeral and I watched it on TV. When I heard speaker after speaker talk about one man who was destroying our movement, I said Kathrada was a brave man for telling him to step down when others say it in the corners,” she said.

“We need more men and women like Kathrada, especially those in top positions in the ANC. Zuma must be recalled.”

"We need to act"

Gordhan, the final speaker, said South Africans should follow Kathrada’s example and act in his memory.

“Kathrada leaves us at a time when the ANC and society find themselves in a mini-crisis. He leaves us when we can’t say we are confused about what the problems are, or who is the problem,” he said.

Gordhan said “it is very clear that we need to act”.

“In this mini-crisis we must ask ourselves, what would Kathy the activist do? The first thing he would say is ask what is really going on. Don’t accept the superficial that is going on or the fake news, even the fake channels, by the way.”

The Guptas, although not mentioned by name, loomed large in Gordhan’s speech.

“Where are all those billion rands going in terms of contracts and tenders? How is it that a structure, Denel, goes to court against Treasury and says: ‘Get out of the way; we still want to continue with this venture with a company called VR Laser’... If you want to understand state capture, that is what it means,” he said.

Gordhan called on citizens – and the ANC – to mobilise.

“Our first challenge is to get this organisation of ours into shape as defined in 1912. Secondly, this movement is the one that governs the country.

"When three senior officials – the deputy president, secretary-general and treasurer-general – all say within 24 hours that we don’t know where these decisions are made, then there’s something to worry about,” he said.

Before Gordhan, SA Communist Party (SACP) second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila addressed the gathering, saying the ANC had to decide between Zuma and the people of South Africa.

“The ANC has a choice. It’s either the people of the country or the Guptas,” he said, adding that Gordhan and other ministers who stood for good governance had been removed.

“The time has arrived that requires decisive action from all of us.”

Mapaila reiterated the SACP Politburo’s call that Zuma should resign.

"We will not be silenced"

Earlier at the memorial service, Hogan furiously questioned why Zuma did not fire incompetent ministers such as Faith Muthambi – who was moved to public service and administration after Ngoako Ramatlhodi was fired – and Bathabile Dlamini, who as retained at social development.

“If you have eyes to see and ears to hear you would have fired Faith Muthambi and Bathabile Dlamini. If you have eyes to see and ears to hear you would step down.”

Hogan said Zuma’s regime postponed the government-planned national memorial service for Kathrada, scheduled to take place at the University of Johannesburg campus in Soweto today, because he feared he would be criticised.

“We will not be silenced,” Hogan said.

Gordhan also lashed out at the postponement of the official memorial service, saying it was “petty and spiteful”.

However, Zuma’s spokesperson, Bongani Ngqulunga, denied that Zuma had anything to do with the postponement.

In a statement issued late yesterday afternoon, the presidency reiterated that Zuma did not attend Kathrada’s funeral and memorial service at the wishes of the Kathrada family – a claim the Kathrada Foundation has denied.

Professor Njabulo Ndebele, chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, said South Africa had entered a “time of a crisis”.

He praised Kathrada for writing to Zuma calling on him to resign.

He also challenged ANC MPs to do the right thing during two motions of no confidence against Zuma that have been submitted by DA and Economic Freedom Fighters this week.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  ahmed kathrada  |  jacob zuma  |  pravin gordhan

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