Ghaleb Cachalia’s family are warning parties against using their history to win elections


Dr Ismail Mohammed Cachalia, a former ANC MP, and a senior member of the Cachalia family, has released a statement to The Daily Vox clarifying the family’s stance on the announcement of Ghaleb Cachalia as DA mayoral candidate for Ekurhuleni. 

Since Ghaleb Cachalia’s announcement of his decision to stand as a mayoral candidate for the Democratic Alliance in Ekurhuleni, several newspaper reports have appeared associating the Cachalia family with his decision. As the oldest, surviving member of this family, I feel compelled to make the following clarification. Ghaleb, did not, nor was he required to, seek the family’s endorsement for his decision.

The Cachalia family does have a proud, shared history of involvement in the Indian congresses, the UDF and the ANC. This is a matter of unalterable historical record, not available for appropriation by political parties involved in electoral contests today.

Family members who have participated in our country’s public life have never before made a claim to public recognition or public office by virtue of a legacy of many hands and many generations. Individual members of the family who make party political decisions in the current political context exercise a personal choice which is their right but do not act on behalf of our family. In a large family is it to be expected that there will be a range of political views.

I wish to make it clear that what we expect from anyone who holds public office is personal integrity and accountability, and in making this statement do not by implication endorse any unethical conduct from members or leaders of the ANC with which we have been historically associated.

Featured image: Ihsaan Haffejee

  1. Ghaleb Cavhalia says

    The City Press today has published a letter from my cousin, Ismail Cachalia and captioned it – Not in our name, Ghaleb.

    I’m not sure where the ‘reports that have associated the entire family with (my) decision’ come from.. Not from me, that’s for sure.

    I have been at pains to point out that the decision I made to join the DA and disassociate myself from the ANC was my decision and mine alone. I canvassed my close family and trusted friends on the decision – some gave me their full support, others expressed reservations. All of those I spoke to recognized and supported my right to follow the dictates of my conscience and none questioned my integrity.

    On the question of whether ‘the proud shared history of involvement in the Indian Congresses, the UDF and the ANC…(is)….available for appropriation by political parties,’ I have to say that my values come from that very association and my utter disillusionment with the ANC’s descent into corruption, kleptocracy and more have led me to embark on the course I have chosen.

    My lineage is my lineage and cannot and will not deny it. It is unsurprising that the press has focused in large measure on this. They do so because it represents a noteworthy break from the trajectory the ANC has followed over recent years.

    It is also hypocritical that those who are now irked by the coverage this break has garnered – a break with a party that has lost its way – now seek to appropriate for themselves that very legacy (by questioning my right to my values my lineage and legacy). More so, because this is a legacy which they sought to sideline in the past.

    In the heydays of the UDF, both Amina and Yusuf Cachalia were sidelined and vilified by a cabal who controlled the movement. Only on Mandela’s release, when he publicly and privately chided them for this did they seek to resurrect my mother as an Icon. My father had died by then and many have attempted to airbrush him out of history. They can’t though – the record stand proudly.

    Many of these people subsequently sat in parliament and provincial legislatures and voted for and endorsed every ANC resolution and action. When one member chose to challenge a corrupt sign-off in on his desk at a provincial legislature, he was summarily dismissed and when another refused to toe the line in another provincial legislature, he was packed off to distant shores as an ambassador – both are Cachalias. I recall though, that many individuals were happy to join the chorus of the cabal or to remain silent in the face of the cabal’s vilification of my parents – until Mandela stepped in and put them right, that is.

    Have I heard any of them or others who are now up in arms about the link the press has drawn between my lineage and legacy, my joining the DA and the reasons why I have done so, publicly stand up and be counted in opposition to the dishonest and disastrous road the ANC is leading this this country? The answer is no. Deafeningly so.

    My decision is mine alone. It represents the values I am imbued with. These come from my life, my history, my parents and my conscience.

    In letter to me in the same newspaper, the editor, Ferial Haffajee asks, a trifle disingenuously, whether I traded on my surname in the same way Duduzane Zuma traded on his with the Guptas! Best she read the above. (Also please read my riposte to this in the following edition of the paper next Sunday).

    Interesting though that both letters – the one from my cousin and the one from Ferial to me are given prominence in the paper when the issues of the country and the municipalities should be the order of the day – these are in the public interest; not the reaction of some members of my extended family who appear to have woken up rather late in the day. I wish they were more vocal in public about their private dissatisfaction with the ANC.

    The waters, though, are muddy.

    You can rely on me to cut through the mud.

    1. Tjama says

      You were never involved in the struggle, we are not interested in you joining DA and you don’t have to explain to us

      1. Ismail Timol says

        Tjama! How do you know that Galieb was not involved in the struggle? The majority of the people were involved in the struggle in their own way. You did not have to be in the papers or well known to be part of the struggle.

      2. Ghaleb Cachalia says

        Not that I need to defend myself to you or anyone else but the facts are – I was in involuntary exile in the uk for all of the 70’s where I participated in anti apartheid activities – at school and while in university. On my return – on a six moth passport which was then withdrawn I held office in local organisation’s combatting the tricameral parliament , was Vice President of the black students society at wits. Protested and was arrested for campaigns against the group areas act and was a radio journalist on capital radio – a position I used to champion various causes. I continued to lend my support as an ordinary person in many UDF marches and events and later went into business. For many years in parallel I wrote articles for the media and have recently decided to roll up my aleeves and move from being an armchair critic to an active participant – following my conscience and building on the values instilled in me by my parents. you?

  2. Ahmed says

    Seems Ghaleb’s disaffection is deeper and much older than he is letting on. Wonder who is this UDF cabal he accuses of sidelining and villifying his parents in the past, and their motives for doing so?

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