Zuma presence looms large at Kathrada burial

President Zuma

President Zuma

JOHANNESBURG. – Although he wasn’t physically present, President Jacob Zuma’s presence loomed large at the funeral of struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada in Johannesburg yesterday.

The Presidency had earlier released a statement that Zuma would not attend the funeral and memorial service, in compliance with the wishes of the family.

Most current and former top ANC leaders, including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, attended Kathrada’s send-off.

President Zuma postponed yesterday’s Cabinet meeting to allow ministers to attend the funeral.

Amidst speculation of a Cabinet reshuffle that could see Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan axed, it was hard not to read into some of the comments by mourners direct and indirect criticism of President Zuma’s recent actions against Gordhan, as they delivered tributes to the ANC struggle stalwarts.

The biggest moment was when former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe quoted a letter Kathrada penned almost a year ago, asking President Zuma to step down. It was followed by a standing ovation and thundering applause from mourners, including some of Zuma’s ministers like Gordhan and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

EFF leader Julius Malema and former Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi were also on their feet to support Kathrada’s call. Ramaphosa and former president Thabo Mbeki did not stand.

“It would be disingenuous to pay tribute to the life of comrade Ahmed Kathrada and pretend that he was not deeply disturbed by the current post-apartheid failures of politics,” Motlanthe said in his speech.

Motlanthe unsuccessfully challenged President Zuma for the position of ANC president at the party’s 2012 national conference in Mangaung.

Motlanthe also bemoaned the fact that Kathrada’s letter went without any formal reply.

“Comrade Kathy took exception to the current culture of feeding frenzy, moral corruption, societal depravity, political dissolution, the gross and sleaze enveloping human mind that would put to shame even some of the vilest political orders known to human history,” Motlanthe said. Mantashe described Kathrada as incorruptible, in both his politics and personal life.

“He belonged to a generation described by (anti-apartheid activist) Yusuf Dadoo at the funeral of comrade Moses Kotane. He was incorruptible, not only in his politics, but also in his personal life. He was a man you knew could never let you down or do something behind your back and never deceive you,” said Mantashe.

He said he always knew where he stood with Kathrada.

“Sometimes his words were harsh and hurtful, but never dishonest,” said Mantashe. He said he hoped Kathrada’s passing would assist those in the party to pull together. – News24.

Article Source: The Herald