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Young People Are Tired Of Being Dragged Into ANC's Factional Battles, Says Fees Must Fall's Fasiah Hassan

"Who suffers most from a Cabinet reshuffle and economic downgrade? The poor working class."

06/04/2017 15:26 SAST | Updated 06/04/2017 16:59 SAST
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Fasiah Hassan, one of Fess Must Fall's leaders, remembered ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada at his memorial in Cape Town on Thursday.

During her speech, she lashed out at President Jacob Zuma's Cabinet reshuffle last week, affecting ten ministers and ten deputy ministers. Among Zuma's most controversial moves are his removal of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan along with his deputy Mcebisi Jonas.

"This fight works only to harm the poor, working class. And who suffers most from a Cabinet reshuffle and economic downgrade? The poor working class," she said.

Speaking to those who plan on taking part in the the anti-Zuma protest on Friday through a national shutdown, Hassan said: "I urge you to be more consistent. Where was the outrage when we were shot? Where was the outrage at Marikana? Where was the outrage at Esidimeni? Because one march is not going to save South Africa."

"I'm here to tell you and to tell the country that as young people, we are fed up. We are done being pulled into your factional battles and your wars. We have no interest in being used as tools to fight your battles," she said.

Hassan sent an ominous warning to the ruling party, Kathrada's political home.

"By the time you are done, there will be no ANC to fight over. By the time your hand over to us, we will be mere observers in the gallery of Parliament, in the opposition benches rebuilding of the ashes you left behind.

"We are indeed at an epoch as a country. And the bitter truth of the matter is that we failed our people long ago. we became a left-talking but right-walking ruling party," she said to applause.

"We failed our people in our growing inability to provide basic services to our people. We allowed factionalism, nepotism, and an attempt to accumulate as many resources as possible to cloud our vision of providing a materially different life for our poor. We have lost sight. And we have forgotten what we have fought for," she said to huge applause from the audience.

Hassan remembered Kathrada: "Thank you for your courage for standing up to the disgusting monster of apartheid and colonialisation, but also for having the courage for having stood up to your own people who have tarnished our hard-won democracy," she said.

Before that, every religious leader present at the memorial made political statements, calling on the ANC to make changes in leadership.

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba was absent, but sent a note that was read out.

"He was unyielding in pursuance of justice, whether being defiant as a powerful voice of a revolutionary in the face of a racist, supremacist government. Or standing firm on principle demanding accountability from comrade leaders who sacrifice the objective of their struggle at the altar of greedy, selfish self-interest, indulging in the despicable acts of prioritising private gains over public interest," said Shaykh Abdullah Khan.

"Parliamentary processes have lately been embarrassing for our nation," said Shaykh Igshaan Taliep, principal of Islamic College of South Africa. "We place the blame for this leadership crisis squarely at the doorstep of the African National Congress to address and provide the nation with prompt resolution to curtail mass dispiritedness, despondency and desperation."

"In many ways, there is still much to do," Rabbi Greg Alexander said speaking about the hard-won sacrifices South Africans attained during the struggle against apartheid.

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan is expected to be speaking at the memorial, as a continuation of his resistance to President Jacob Zuma.

The memorial is expected to be a big moment in the resistance to Zuma as the events have become an umbrella for the resistance movement by officials, leaders in the ANC, and members of the public. Speakers include Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, and Robben Island veteran Eddie Daniels. Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan has attended and spoken at several other memorial services honouring Kathrada, as as a continuation of his resistance to Zuma.