Zuma did not cancel Kathrada memorial, says presidency

2017-04-01 19:12
President Jacob Zuma (File, Lulama Zenzile, Netwerk24)

President Jacob Zuma (File, Lulama Zenzile, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma was not involved in the planning, or in the cancellation of the memorial service of struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada, the presidency said on Saturday.

"The Presidency wishes to correct a wrong impression that has been created in the public domain that President Jacob Zuma cancelled the memorial service that he had declared for stalwart Mr Ahmed Kathrada. This is not true," presidency spokesperson, Bongani Ngqulunga said in a statement on Saturday.

Ngqulunga said Zuma declared a special official funeral for the late stalwart and directed government to organise an official memorial service, to be addressed by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on behalf of government.

"As is publicly known, the President did not attend the funeral and was not going to attend the memorial service either, respecting the wishes of the family," he said.

Ngqulunga said any impression created that Zuma cancelled or ordered the cancellation was "erroneous and unfortunate".

Kathrada died on Tuesday morning, and his funeral service was held at West Park cemetery in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Zuma was asked by Kathrada’s family not to attend the funeral.

The memorial comes at a politically heated time, following a cabinet reshuffle by Zuma during which he fired Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas.

The memorial was originally to be held jointly by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and the SA Communist Party, however following the cancellation of a state memorial, the Gauteng ANC also joined in on the commemoration ceremony.

On Friday, the foundation and party indicated their shock that the memorial by the state for Kathrada – due to take place on Saturday morning in Soweto - had been indefinitely postponed.

On Saturday, government communications said it had to cancel the official memorial service as it could not agree with the family.

Just over a year ago, Kathrada wrote a letter to Zuma asking him to step down.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  ahmed kathrada  |  johannesburg

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