06/04/2017 14:28 SAST | Updated 06/04/2017 15:05 SAST

Religious Leaders At Kathrada's Memorial Blame The ANC for The 'Leadership Crisis' In SA

"We place the blame for this leadership crisis squarely at the doorstep of the African National Congress."

Mourners attend a funeral of Ahmed Kathrada, who was sentenced to life imprisonment alongside Nelson Mandela, at the Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg, South Africa March 29, 2017.
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Mourners attend a funeral of Ahmed Kathrada, who was sentenced to life imprisonment alongside Nelson Mandela, at the Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg, South Africa March 29, 2017.

Every religious leader present at the memorial for ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada in Cape Town on Thursday 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 endorsed the event, "it's emphasis on the values by which Uncle Kathy and his generation of liberation fighters, including the maxim to be found in the gospel of St. John, that the truth shall set you free."

"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. "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.

On Wednesday, Gordhan spoke at a service for Kathrada organised in Brooklyn, Tshwane.

Last week during Kathrada's funeral, Gordhan was called up by the CEO of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Neeshan Balton, and given applause and support from ANC members and members of the public in attendance.

Rumours of Gordhan's axing had been swirling for about a year.

On Saturday afternoon, he was called to the front at a memorial for Kathrada amidst rapturous applause and weaved his way to the lectern from his front-row seat between Derek Hanekom, the dismissed minister of tourism, and Graca Machel, the social activist and late Nelson Mandela's wife.

"This is still our African National Congress (ANC)!" he said to massive cheers and spoke about how "petty and spiteful" the presidency was in postponing the Kathrada funeral.

He told the audience that there is no doubt as to what the country's problems are and who is causing them.

He was open about his battle against sponsored state capture, he named companies and insurgents and he blew the lid off efforts to manipulate and capture whole sectors of the economy to the benefit of a few.

Gordhan challenged his dismissal, saying: "When three senior party officials, the deputy president, the secretary general and the treasurer-general, say in the space of 24 hours they don't know where this decision was made, we have a problem. And if anyone is thinking of taking us to a disciplinary committee: we'll ask these same questions at the next meeting of the national executive committee (NEC)." On Wednesday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe backtracked on his and other leaders' criticism of Zuma.

Gordhan on Saturday also urged those present to "come out, organise, be part of something".

"We are a society with a history of mass-organising and mass-mobilisation. This other channel (the Guptas' ANN7) was saying last night I was encouraging mass-mobilisation... yes, I unashamedly am!" he said to the loudest cheers of the afternoon.

"Many of my comrades in the NEC and government will say the same thing if they had the chance. Not for their own sake, but because we believe the people shall govern."