The ANC and its alliance partners have decried corruption and vowed to fight against it in honour of the late struggle hero John Nkadimeng.
Leaders of the alliance movement, former comrades who served with him in exile, and family members gathered for a virtual memorial ahead of Nkadimeng’s funeral on Friday.
Cuba’s ambassador to South Africa, Rodolfo Benitez Verson, also attended.
Nkadimeng was appointed as South Africa’s ambassador to Cuba in 1995.
President Cyril Ramaphosa declared Nkadimeng’s burial a special official category 1 funeral, which entails military honours.
The national flag will be flown at half-mast at all flag stations until Friday evening.
“You depart from this earth when our movement’s credibility has been compromised by unscrupulous elements who stole from Covid-19 coffers,” said ANC veterans president Snuki Zikalala.
Zikalala praised the man who received the highest honour the ANC gave to those who selflessly dedicated their lives to the fight for freedom – Isithwalandwe/Seaparankwe. He said the league was proud to have walked the long path to freedom alongside Nkadimeng.
Highlighting the fallen hero’s values, such as hard work, humility and honesty, Zikalala said this helped the ANC gain the trust of many during the country’s first democratic election.
“We have been battered, humiliated, lampooned and ridiculed for not taking action against those who have been found wanting,” said Zikalala.
Speaking about recent debates taking place in both the country and the ANC’s national executive committee, the veterans league president committed to ensuring the 2017 conference resolution for those implicated in corruption was implemented.
Corruption also featured in ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe’s address.
The chair, who recently recovered from Covid-19, spoke at length about Nkadimeng’s history in the trade union movement.
He dismissed the notion that unions had no business in politics, along with those seeking to have trade union movements disassociate from the ANC.
He also listed the values in Nkadimeng he admired, which he linked to the struggle hero’s upbringing.
“These values ensured that JK would never be part of unbridled greed, which has now engulfed our country and our movement,” said Mantashe.
While the SACP’s general-secretary, Blade Nzimande, missed the engagement due to ill health, a statement from him was read, in which he also complained about “Covid-prenuers”, in reference to those who have sought to enrich themselves through procurement processes.
Several politically-linked individuals, including family members of politicians have recently come under the spotlight for scoring big tenders, while numerous reports of corruption have also surfaced as South Africa battles the pandemic.
The ANC Women’s League president, Bathabile Dlamani, exalted Nkadimeng and his generation for advancing gender struggles.
Nkadimeng’s own family members, including his grandchildren, also shared their thoughts on the veteran’s life.
His granddaughter, Lerato Nkadimeng, spoke about the impact of his loss on the family.
“In our collective loss of Ntate moholo (grandpa), I see just how deeply the connections made by him, Nkoko (grandma) and peers in our family go – that in our grief we can still commiserate an incredible and wonderful life and still celebrate his memory,” said the young Nkadimeng.
Former intelligence minister and commander in the ANC’s liberation army Umkhonto we Sizwe, Ronnie Kasrils, also joined in the event, speaking fondly of his years during exile under Nkadimeng’s watch.
“He always listened so carefully to the youngsters. He listened to what we had to say, was never arrogant, never laid down the line. He thought carefully about what was said, with humility and concern for our lives,” said Kasrils.
Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi also praised Nkadimeng for his convictions, saying he never betrayed the movement.
She also said there was a lot of bravery shown by the former leader, which they could learn from.
“[We could take from his] tenacious spirit to rally and expose the greedy syndrome, which keeps eating money meant to alleviate the impact on the poor and to buy PPEs,” said Losi.
She raised concerns about frontline workers who were dying while fighting the pandemic due to a lack of resources, “yet the greedy are lining their pockets”.
Losi said the era Nkadimeng lived in shaped his life and he didn’t have any thoughts about stealing from his own.