The call was made out of sincere concern for the country and ANC
Struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada’s call on President Jacob Zuma to resign was not made out of anger or conceit, but out of a sincere concern for the state of the African National Congress and South Africa, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday.
In the time since his death on March 28, 2017, Kathrada’s clear and consistent moral voice had been missed. Throughout his life he remained true to his principles, Ramaphosa told an event to pay tribute to Kathrada in Schweizer-Reneke in the North West, where he was born on August 21, 1929.
This required not only that he challenge with all his being the iniquities of the colonial legacy and the apartheid reality. It also meant, at times, that he confront his own comrades. He could be critical without being abrasive. He could disagree without being confrontational, Ramaphosa said.
“But he felt compelled to speak out, and to act, in defence of the values and the conduct of the movement in which he grew up and to which he dedicated his life. He never took this responsibility lightly. In a life full of difficult choices, we know that his decision to publicly call on President Jacob Zuma to resign his office was one of the most difficult and painful he had had to make.
“He made the call not out of anger, nor of conceit. He made the call out of a sincere concern for the state of the movement and the needs of the country. He made the call because, as a loyal and disciplined member of the African National Congress, he understood that he was a custodian of the values and practices of the movement to which he had dedicated 75 years of his life,” Ramaphosa said.
He understood that he had a responsibility to defend the unity, integrity, and principles of the ANC. It was a matter of deep regret to “those of us within the leadership of the movement”, that during his final months Kathrada should have harboured such grave concerns about the state of the ANC and the direction of the country.
He was concerned that the values that had sustained the ANC for more than a century were under threat. The spirit of sacrifice and selfless struggle was being replaced by the unrelenting pursuit of influence and material reward.
The camaraderie of prison and exile was fast fading as factional interests set comrade against comrade, leader against leader. The interests of the people were being subordinated to the interests of a few. He worried about the unity and coherence of the ANC. He worried about the ability of the ANC to continue to unite all South Africans in the struggle for freedom from ignorance, want, and hunger, Ramaphosa said.
“Some, including the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, are bringing together various groupings to establish a broad front against state capture and corruption. The anger of our people is real. The hurt is justified.
“As the African National Congress, we need to have the political maturity to recognise that efforts to establish such a front is a signal of our shortcomings. We need to engage meaningfully with the various forces that feel alienated so that we can re-establish relationships based on principle and a clear value system.
“We will not be able to decisively end state capture, we will not be able to comprehensively root out corruption, unless we are united. It is at a time like this when we should unite and renew our movement rather than abandon it. Our immediate and urgent task is to root out patronage, corruption, mismanagement, factionalism, materialism, and greed.
“To achieve this we must act together with purpose and courage to restore the values of our movement. As we remember the life of Ahmed Kathrada we are called upon to strive with renewed purpose to achieve his vision of a new, and better world,” Ramaphosa said. – African News Agency (ANA)