The Kathrada Foundation and Nelson Mandela Foundation jointly briefed the media on Friday, after the Zuma presidency cancelled an official memorial service for Ahmed Kathrada, the anti-apartheid icon who was laid to rest on Wednesday. BARBARA HOGAN, a former health minister and the widow of Uncle Kathy, had strong words for the government. She called on South Africa to unite.
I’d like to pay a special tribute to the Kathrada family who are sitting here with us at the moment.
I think both myself and the Kathrada family felt that when Mr K was buried on Wednesday, it was one of the most fitting tributes in the styles and traditions of our mass democratic movement that Mr K could ever have been given. The enormous spirit that engulfed the country in the time of his passing away and at the funeral was both calming and comforting, but gave us inspiration about the fighting spirit of our country.
We welcomed a commemoration service hosted by the presidency because that is what is befitting of one of the giants of our country. But let me say that last night when the news began to filter through about the dastardly deeds being done in the dark corners of this country, many of us in the family began to have second doubts whether we would want a commemoration under the auspices of a president who has clearly gone rogue. Who has clearly defied his own party. You have a deputy president saying clearly and forthright today that the removal of the Minister of Finance and his deputy was based on a dubious intelligence report. You have the Secretary General of the ANC saying loudly and clearly that the list of ministers who are woe to be replaced and taken out, did not come from the ANC. It came from another side.
What does that mean to us? It means that the president is not applying his mind in making decisions about one of the most critical issues in our country, and that is a decision about the team of people going to lead our country. Surely that is an indictment of a president, when his own party is rejecting him.
His own party rejects what he has done. If this is not a defining moment in our history, nothing will be a defining moment. Looking to the citizens of our country, I think all of us are utterly dismayed. We live in this country, we love this country, we have hopes and we have the majority of people in this country who live desperate lives of poverty and marginalisation. That a president can think to withdraw a finance minister and his deputy from an incredibly important international merger, that he could just do that and think there are no consequences for the poor, shows what an inept president we have.
For the ordinary citizens of this country, it is time for your voices to be heard.
This is not a time for petty differences amongst us to divide us. Our enemies who are our enemies, and we all have our fights in the progressive movement, can no longer be our enemies. We have to form a broad, mass democratic alliance to to take on the forces of evil and the rogues and the thieves who want to steal our country before us. We need to say to people that they need to put pressure. If there are ANC councillors in our wards, we need to call these councillors and ask them what they are doing. You can no longer say that’s another sphere of government, you are representing the ANC and you’ve got to be accountable. We need to say to people they need to call their ANC MPL’s and ask them what they’re doing. Call on your MPs.
When they were sworn in, they swore an oath to the Constitution.
Party loyalty is important, but when we are in as grave a situation as we are today, The Constitution that we love and fought for must take precedence over any lingering notion that party loyalty is above everything.
I do not say this lightly. As Kathy said in his letter to the president; he remained silent even though there were many things that worried him.
But he said there is a moment that you need to break the silence. This is the moment when ANC MPs, sitting in parliament, need to look into themselves and ask themselves what the constitutional duty imposed upon us is in terms of this constitution.
There are two clauses around the presidency in this constitution which deal with a president that is not behaving presidentially. The constitution provides the basis for remedying that fact.
These are not silly issues of factional matters in the ANC. These are grander and greater projects about the accountability of our leadership to the rank and file of our people.
I call on everyone here not to remain silent or sit on the fence, not to remain looking after your own self-interest. The country needs to be taken back. A country united is never divided, and this country is not for sale.