Kathrada’s memorial a galvaniser

2017-04-02 07:44

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Barbara Hogan: Zuma worshipped at an altar of corruption

2017-04-01 20:46

"Mr President, if you had ears to hear and eyes to see you would step down as Kathy would want," said Barbara Hogan before being drowned by a crowd screaming, clapping singing and dancing in calling for Zuma to step down.WATCH

In what has been a tumultuous political week, the passing of struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada turned into a galvanising event for ANC leaders critical of President Jacob Zuma.

The cancellation of the official memorial for Kathrada on Friday added fuel to the fire already burning over this week’s much-awaited Cabinet reshuffle.

Speaking to City Press, director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Neeshan Balton said it was clear that Zuma did not want a “repeat” of what had happened at the stalwart’s funeral at Westpark Cemetery on Wednesday.

“Given the events of the past few days, I don’t think they want to get into any more controversies. Because if it was a national memorial service and you have a repeat of what happened at the funeral, it may come across as unsavoury.”

All the speakers at Westpark addressed what was then a pending reshuffle in varying degrees of subtlety.

Zuma did not attend the funeral. The presidency released a statement that the absence of Zuma was in accordance with the wishes of the family.

“We would not have stopped him from coming, but I can understand the discomfort,” Balton said.

“I think that the president would have seen that these were Kathrada’s views and would have inferred from that, that it was not right.”

He said the foundation learnt that the memorial had been canned through a government statement on Friday, which marked a year to the day that the Constitutional Court found Zuma had failed to uphold the Constitution regarding Nkandla.

Balton said it took Kathrada six months to pen the letter calling on the president to step down.

“When the Nkandla judgment came out, he had been working on a draft of the letter for more than six months. He agonised and drafted and redrafted.

“A day before the judgment, we sent the letter to the presidency privately. They acknowledged it.

When the judgment came out, I asked him that same evening, after the president addressed the country and appeared not to be remorseful: ‘What do you think we should do?’

"He said: ‘We should release the letter. Keeping it private is not going to help.’ We released it.”

Barbara Hogan, Kathrada’s widow, broke her silence on Friday when she called for a new “mass democratic alliance”, in response to the Cabinet reshuffle and state of the country.

Making scathing remarks about Zuma at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, she said he had acted out of self-interest.

Despite the indefinite postponement of the memorial and the absence of Zuma at the funeral, Balton said Kathrada had genuine admiration for Zuma’s role in the liberation struggle.

“President Zuma spoke at Ahmed Kathrada’s 80th birthday and delivered a very powerful tribute to him. That was at Kathy’s request that the president do that.

"He was at pains when he saw these kinds of shifts.”

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  ahmed kathrada  |  cabinet reshuffle

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