Calls for President Jacob Zuma to resign reverberated through the St. George’s cathedral in Cape Town on Thursday as civil society groups, religious leaders and an a ruling African National Congress (ANC) alliance partners gathered to pay tribute to Rivonia trialist and anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Kathrada.
The memorial service for Kathrada, who died last week, started off with religious leaders from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths praying for the Kathrada family, and joining in calls for “leadership of integrity” in South Africa.
A Muslim cleric told the memorial service that they stood with people who opposed corruption, saying Parliament has become “an embarrassment” and blamed the ANC, asking that the ruling party “provide the nation with prompt resolutions to curtail mass dispiritness, despondency and desperation”.
“South Africa surpassed all countries as the most unequal society in the world. Add to this… the new king on the trough of state capture and permeation of corruption intensifies in the corridors of the people’s representative society,” a representative of the United Ulema Council of SA, said.
The voice of the youth was present too, with FeesMustFall leader Fasiha Hassan saying she was done with the ANC, and would no longer be “used” by the party to fight factional battles.
She recalled how Kathrada would join students during protests. Hassan said she had expected a scolding, but instead he was willing to listen to the youth. This, she said, was sorely missing in the current ANC movement.
“We are indeed at an epoch as this country. The bitter truth of the matter is that we failed our people long time ago. We became a left-talking but right-walking ruling party,” she said to loud cheers and shouts of “yes” from memorial attendees.
She said the ANC had become a party of “nepotism” and corruption, and that young people would not allow themselves to be used during factional battles within in the ruling party.
The Social Justice Coalition’s Phumeza Mlungwana called on MPs regardless of political affiliation to vote against Zuma’s presidency.
“Zuma must go. The ANC must take Zuma out…and its not because we support other parties.”
Nokuthula Nqaba, a member of the ANC Western Cape provincial executive, tried to defend her party, but her voice was drowned out, as the crowd booed her.
Tshepo Motsepe, from Equal Education, told the memorial ANC members could go ahead a “beat each other up in private”, but not beat up South Africa in process.
Anti-HIV/AIDS activist Vuyiseka Dubula supported calls for Zuma’s removal, saying: “This is not Zuma’s country. This is our country.”
“Even when we were ill with HIV, we refused to die.The democracy is ours…not the few in government.”
South African Communist Party deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin was applauded as he said the ANC-alliance partner would support calls for Zuma to step down.
Cronin called for the immediate implementation of the recommendation by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela for a judicial commission of inquiry into all dealings between public entities and companies owned by Zuma’s friends, the Gupta family.
“We call for the revoking of citizenship and revoking of residential rights of Guptas,” said Cronin.
“We call for lifestyle audits for all ministers, all deputy ministers and for board members of state-owned companies.”
Cronin says the SACP would stand its ground when it meets with the ruling African National Congress top six – by expressing their disappointment at recent events, which include a cabinet reshuffle, followed by a downgrade to junk status by a rating agency.
Several hundred Capetonians who were present at the memorial said they would mobilise communities to participate in Friday’s march to Parliament – as part of national protest action against the Zuma presidency.
– African News Agency