Johannesburg, Mar 31 (PTI) The official memorial service for Ahmed Kathrada, South Africa’s revered Indian-origin anti-apartheid icon, will go ahead after the government had earlier cancelled the planned service in Soweto tomorrow.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Foundation today announced they will jointly continue with the memorial service.
The cancellation came amid national outcries over a dramatic midnight reshuffle of the Cabinet by President Jacob Zuma that saw Indian-origin finance minister Pravin Gordhan and four other ministers fired, many without their knowledge until they read it in the media this morning.
Analysts said the official memorial service organised by the government was probably cancelled for fear of it turning into an anti-Zuma rally, as happened at Kathrada’s funeral on Wednesday.
At the funeral, former president Kgalema Motlanthe read out a letter that Kathrada wrote a year ago to Zuma, asking him to do the right thing and step down as protests increased around corruption and fraud cases pending against the leader.
Zuma, who said he would not attend the funeral to comply with the wishes of the family, did not respond to the letter, which got a long-standing ovation and cheers from those at the funeral, including a number of cabinet ministers, some of whom have now been fired by Zuma.
This afternoon, Kathrada’s widow and former minister Barbara Hogan fiercely attacked Zuma’s decision to make changes to his cabinet.
“We welcomed a memorials service hosted by the Presidency because that is what is befitting one of the giants of our country. But last night, when the news began to filter through…many of us in the family had second doubts whether we would want a commemoration under the auspices of a president who has clearly gone rogue; who has clearly defied his own party,” Hogan said.
Earlier in the day, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe and the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa both said they had disagreed with Zuma over Gordhan s axing as it would have a serious effect on the South African economy.
“We are angered and outraged by the choices and the consequences of the decisions by the President, including retaining ministers who have been found glaringly wanting in executing their responsibilities and putting narrow interests ahead of the interests of the country and its people,” said Nishan Balton, Executive Director of the Kathrada Foundation.
“The Foundation therefore calls on the leaders and ordinary members of the ANC across the country, leaders and members of the liberation movements; and progressive civil society formations, to build a new consensus that brings together all South Africans demanding accountability and ethical governance.
“We call on Members of Parliament to unite and support a motion of no confidence (against Zuma). We also call on the people of South Africa in their mass formations to take to the streets and make their views known,” Balton added.
The two foundations will now host the memorial service at the Johannesburg City Hall tomorrow afternoon.
Kathrada, who was one of Mandela’s closest aides, died on March 28 aged 87 at the Donald Gordon Hospital here after complications following a brain surgery.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.