Kathrada Foundation disputes Zuma’s statement about funeral
Naledi Shange | 2017-03-30 07:55:04.0
The Kathrada Foundation has contradicted suggestions that it had barred President Jacob Zuma from attending the struggle veteran’s funeral on Wednesday.
Zuma said on Wednesday he would stay from the funeral of Ahmed Kathrada out of respect for the family’s wishes. But speakers at Kathrada’s funeral suggested that no one had received an official invitation to the event.
During the service at the Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg on Wednesday‚ Cosatu’s Bheki Ntshalintshali and executive director of the Kathrada Foundation Neeshan Balton both took to the podium and highlighted that all those who had attended had done so out of their own accord to pay homage to the late anti-apartheid activist.
Zuma had instead sent deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to lead a government delegation to the special official funeral‚ which he had declared.
Scores of government officials packed the Westpark Cemetery for Kathrada’s send-off.
These included Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi‚ Education Minister Angie Motshekga‚ Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan‚ Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti and Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor.
Also in the crowd were former first lady Graca Machel‚ Winnie Madikizela-Mandela‚ former president Thabo Mbeki‚ former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela‚ former African Union leader Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma‚ as well EFF leader Julius Malema.
Kathrada‚ who was affectionately known as “Uncle Kathy” last year penned an open letter to President Jacob Zuma last year‚ voicing his concerns about the state of the country.
In the letter‚ Kathrada called on Zuma to “submit to the will of the people and resign”.
The funeral revealed a brewing revolt against Zuma after former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe rehashed Kathrada’s letter to Zuma.
Motlanthe sparked a standing ovation from the crowd as he read the letter‚ with some cabinet ministers joining the rousing applause it triggered.
Motlanthe pointed out that‚ almost a year later‚ Zuma had failed to respond to Kathrada’s letter.
Earlier the likes of ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and Gauteng Premier David Makhura had pointed out the value of veterans.
Mantashe said veterans had a responsibility to guide the current leadership‚ while Makhura said their advice should not fall on deaf ears.
Makhura left mourners with a thought-provoking statement.
“Although he is silent today‚ Comrade Kathy was never a silent man in his life of 87 years of life. He always made his views known and even as he lies here today‚ he refuses to be silent‚” he said.