Final Kathrada memorial marred by ANCYL disruptions

2017-04-09 19:43
Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan at the Durban memorial for struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan at the Durban memorial for struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

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Durban – The final memorial for struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada in Durban was marred by interruptions and outbursts from the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday.

There was a strong police presence at the event after a court decision ruled that the ANCYL would be able to attend the memorial. The conditions of them attending included not inciting violence, intimidation or causing any disruptions.

Youth League members bustled into Sastri College where large numbers of people attended the final memorial for "Uncle Kathy," as Kathrada was also known.

Members of the youth league brandished T-shirts with President Jacob Zuma’s face on and placards in support of the Cabinet reshuffle.

Kathrada openly criticised Zuma’s leadership, even posthumously barring him from attending his memorial.  

Ex-finance minister Pravin Gordhan was largely seen as the final hurdle for Zuma to control the national treasury.

Once proceedings began, the youth league interrupted speakers whenever the subject matter remotely touched on corruption or challenges in government.

Gordhan, one of the main speakers at the event, barely got a word in before the youth league began chanting “Zuma”. Gordhan was also booed whenever he was mentioned in speeches.


ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala as well as ANCYL provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo had to be brought in to calm the rowdy youth league when Gordhan attempted his keynote address.

“We cannot do this comrades. You need to be seated so we can continue with the programme,” Zikalala said.

Police attempted to remove one member of the youth league, but this angered other supporters.

Zikalala had to ask police to leave the disruptive supporter alone saying police were not needed at that point.

Gordhan got as far as a moment of silence and an acknowledgement of Chris Hani’s death before the youth league again interrupted.

Hani was murdered on 10 April 1993. Monday will be the 24th anniversary of his death.

“We know that there is no other organisation in South Africa that can deliver the promise of a non-racial‚ non-sexist democratic South Africa‚” Gordhan said.

Gordhan briefly began veering toward speaking about corruption before he was interrupted yet again. He said unity within the ANC, which meant a great deal to stalwarts such as Kathrada, was needed.

“But that unity was not without principle. It was a principled unity‚” he said.

Jab at corruption

He then made a jab at corruption which sent the youth league on a tangent that resulted in proceedings concluding indefinitely.

“Because you see comrades‚ two of us or any group of us can make a deal today. Somebody will pass on a nice bag of money; we all share the money and we say we now have unity because we won’t fight because we all have a bit of money. That’s not unity.”

The comment sent the youth league into a frenzy booing Gordhan and chanting Zuma.

ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize also tried to speak to the restless youth league, but to no avail. He continued his speech as normal while the group continued to sing pro-Zuma songs.

KwaZulu-Natal's ANC leadership and its youth league have taken aim at critics of President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle, saying funerals and memorial services should not be used to express dissatisfaction with the party’s leadership.

Read more on:    sacp  |  anc  |  ancyl  |  zweli mkhize  |  chris hani  |  jacob zuma  |  thanduxolo sabelo  |  ahmed kathrada  |  pravin gordhan  |  durban  |  politics 2017

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