Kathrada family shuns Zuma


President Jacob Zuma, Ahmed Kathrada and Andrew Mlangeni at the ANC National General Council on 11 October 2015 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.

JOHANNESBURG – The family of Ahmed Kathrada has said that President Jacob Zuma will be attending the late stalwart's funeral, but he will not be speaking.

Sources had earlier told eNCA the Kathrada’s family had requested that Zuma not attend at all. 

Kathrada (87) died in the early hours of Tuesday morning, after a short illness.

After a long life dedicated to the various phases of the struggle against apartheid, Kathrada was vocal in his public criticism of the government formed by the ANC of which he remained a loyal member until the very end. 

His ire was particularly reserved for the head of state, President Jacob Zuma.  In an open letter to Mr Zuma he outlined his long dedication to the cause of dismantling apartheid. 

He castigated himself for ‘not speak[ing] out’ on various aspects of the president’s public life, including Nkandla, his association with the Gupta family, among other concerns.  He said he had thought the ‘NEC would have dealt with this as the collective leadership of the ANC’.

In the wake of the Constitutional Court judgment on the president’s handling of the Public Protector’s report on Nkandla, Kathrada did not mince his words.

"I am not a political analyst, but I am now driven to ask: “Dear Comrade President, don’t you think your continued stay as president will only serve to deepen the crisis of confidence in the government of the country?"

He went on to call for the president to resign to avoid further tarnishing of Zuma’s "outstanding contribution to the liberation struggle". 

"I know that if I were in the president’s shoes, I would step down with immediate effect," Kathrada wrote.

The president has deployed his deputy to represent government at ‘Uncle Kathy’s farewell’ on Wednesday.