President Jacob Zuma’s insinuation that late struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada – who spent 26 years and three months in prison – was senile when he penned a letter asking him to resign is repulsive, his foundation has said.
In an interview with the SABC, Zuma questioned whether Kathrada had actually written or had been manipulated into writing the letter.
“The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation (AKF) is repulsed at recent comments by President Jacob Zuma, which insinuate that anti-apartheid struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada was manipulated into writing the letter calling on the president to resign,” said the AKF.
“Similar comments were made by a guest on ANN7 immediately after Kathrada’s death in March this year. “This misrepresentation of facts to the South African public is a sad reflection of President Zuma, who has simply dismissed Kathrada’s views as that of an old man who had lost his mind. “False information that the letter was written by his wife, Barbara Hogan, as retaliation for being removed from her post as a minister, has also been peddled previously. We reject these claims,” the AKF said.
Kathrada finalised the letter on March 31 last year, “and had it sent to the Presidency on April 1, 2016”. “It was only after the president’s lack of acknowledgment of responsibility to the public for his actions during his subsequent address to the nation, that Kathrada requested that the letter be made public. “To hint that Kathrada was an old senile man, who was prone to being manipulated, is nothing short of an insult to the struggle icon’s lifelong activism.
“Kathrada was active, both mentally and physically, up until a month before he died. “The many who had an opportunity to engage with him throughout 2016, leading up to early 2017, would attest to his sound mental health. This includes journalists, school children, university students, researchers, friends, family, neighbours and comrades.”