02/04/2017 07:32 SAST | Updated 02/04/2017 07:43 SAST

ANC loyalists refuse to be silenced at Kathrada memorial

Speaking at yesterday's memorial, Pravin Gordhan said that people needed to embody the values of stalwarts like Kathrada

South African former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan gestures as he delivers a speech at the Memorial for the late Anti-Apartheid Stalwart Ahmed Kathrada.

Johannesburg – One of anti-apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada's final wishes for the ANC continues to find resonance within the liberation movement as more and more leaders call for President Jacob Zuma to go.

"There comes a time in the life of every nation when it must choose to submit or fight. Today I appeal to our president to submit to the will of the people and resign," Kathrada wrote to Zuma in 2016, a letter which has never been responded to and is now being echoed as many pay their respects to the stalwart.

This week Zuma went against the wishes of organisations within the tripartite alliance and reshuffled his cabinet. In the process he fired Pravin Gordhan who was his minister of finance. This has resulted in a seemingly defeated ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe telling the media that the party was not happy and that ANC leaders were not consulted but informed of the changes.

A day after Gordhan found out, through media reports, that he was out of a job he paid tribute to the man fondly known as Uncle Kathy. He told a crammed Johannesburg City Hall that in order to get through what he described as South Africa's "mini crisis", people needed to embody the values stalwarts like Kathrada and others from the golden generation had displayed throughout their lives.

"We must actually ask ourselves what Kathy the activist would do," said Gordhan.

He like many others weighed in on his recent sacking, taking the public into his confidence the former minister shared details of events leading up his axing.

"This movement is the movement that governs this country so when three senior officials, the deputy president, the secretary general and the treasurer general all say within 24 hours that we don't know where his decisions were made then there should be something we should be worried about," said Gordhan.

Echoing the sentiments of other speakers was Kathrada's wife Barbara Hogan. She also told crowds that her husband and Walter Sisulu were loved by former President Nelson Mandela because they would not be afraid to critique him throughout his political career.

'Altar of corruption'

She said Zuma was so fearful of her husband's voice that he cancelled an official memorial service in the stalwart's honour.

"Today we stand here and say we will not be silenced, no more," she screamed.

"Instead you [Zuma] have sacrificed everything we stood for on the altar of corruption, greed and more greed," said Hogan to screaming cheers and "Zuma must go" chants in the hall.

"If you had ears to hear and eyes to see you would not have appointed four financial ministers in less than 2 years," she said.

On Friday government communications through a statement announced that a planned official memorial service was postponed. Acting Director General Donald Liphoko said this was due to an inability to reach an agreement with the family on logistics and how to implement them.

Gordhan in sharing his views on the cancellation called it 'Petty and spiteful'.

'No struggle without casualties'

"Democracy is a collective process; democracy is not about individuals working for themselves and their families at the expense of the country," said SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila.

He was speaking following the SACP's politburo on Friday. The party also resolved that Zuma should step down. Mapaila in explaining the decision said the party shared a lot of Kathrada's sentiments shared in the letter he penned to the president.

This recklessness has provoked widespread concern within the ANC and across all sectors of society," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the ANC in the provincial government, its chief whip Brian Hlongwa said there was credibility [gap] between what leaders in the party proclaimed and what they did.

"Our understanding is that the ANC does not exist for its own sake," he said.

"We need to accept that there is no struggle without causalities, no matter how wide the patronage might be, no matter how deep the pockets are. They might torture our bodies, break our bones but our souls are intact, our souls are not for sale," he said.

Hlongwa said they were ready to speak truth to power.

Act together

He also told News24 that the ANC in Gauteng had been asking Zuma to do the right thing since the damning ruling against him by the Constitutional Court in 2016.

"If doing the right thing means stepping down then that is what he needs to do," Hlongwa said.

"We all love this beloved country and want all its people to prosper. Let us be brave, let us do the right thing. These are difficult moments let us try not to regret them," said Nelson Mandela Foundation chairperson Njabulo Ndebele.

Ndebele also took a moment to address Zuma's newly appointed ministers.

"I call on you to think about it, you who emerged in to the light from a list put together in the depths of secrecy," he said.

He also set out to challenge the new appointees, asking them to think about the impact of their new positions on the rest of South Africa.

"It is a challenge I put and the responsibility and the accountability I feel... never to give up on any human being, in this context that we ask of the ministers is it worth it for you personally for your families, relatives, friends and comrades of many years who have suddenly seen betrayal in the terrible choices you have made," asked the professor.

Gordhan once again called on citizens in the country to become more involved in happenings around them

"He [Kathrada] also leaves us at a time when it's very clear that we need to act together to set this country back to where the people shall govern," said Gordhan.