Gwede Mantashe Slams ANC Critics: ANC veteran Ahmed Kathrada’s funeral on Wednesday was marked by a beehive of activity.
Like in many other countries, political funerals in South Africa are usually a unique spectacle.
People had expected the ruling party to be in control of the funeral of one of its notable political figures but some members of the party who made it to the societal funeral were apparently spotted floating.
Reasons for this could be because of President Zuma’s embarrassing absence, as requested by members of the family or probably because the funeral metamorphosed into an anti-Zuma gathering.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, yesterday, criticised people who applaud and praise ANC’s critics.
Responding to questions about why he didn’t join several of his comrades in a standing ovation during former President Kgalema Motlanthe’s speech at the funeral of stalwart Ahmed Kathrada, the ANC’s spin doctor said such things distract the ANC from tackling the real issue.
He buttressed that attacking the ANC will do no good to the organisation and its critics but that dealing with its challenges is the ideal thing.
“We’re at the stage where today everybody who bashes the ANC gets an acclamation. We must go beyond that,” he said.
A major highlight of the funeral was the re-reading of Kathdara’s letter calling on Zuma to step down.
The letter was greeted with a standing ovation except for Graca Machel, Cyril Ramaphosa, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Jessie Duarte who remained in their chairs. Ministers Pravin Gordhan and Aaron Motsoaledi, Julius Malema, however, stood up with the crowd.
Prior to his death, Kathrada joined a league of other veterans in calling on Zuma to step down honourably.
Motlanthe quoted Uncle Kathy’s words, in which he asked: “Is it asking too much to express the hope that you will choose the correct way that is gaining momentum, to consider stepping down?”
Meanwhile, the ANC Youth League defended President Jacob Zuma after former president Kgalema Motlanthe read extracts from Kathrada’s open letter to Zuma last year, in which he appealed to the president to step down.
In a statement released on Thursday, the league said: “The ANC Youth League condemns in the strongest possible manner the usage of funerals of our stalwarts for political posturing, point-scoring and grandstanding.
The league reiterated that it will remain the family of President Zuma, as he is welcomed all the time as a father figure and a struggle icon who played a big role to liberate this country in the ANC Youth League.
As per the Islamic custom, the funeral for Ahmed Kathrada, the struggle stalwart and Robben Island alumnus was held the day after he died.
There was hardly time for the kinds of preparations that accompany these special official funerals. There were no special VIP areas, no metal detectors at the entrances, and no formal invitations sent out, as everyone attended willingly. It was only South Africa’s sitting president whose absence took the centre stage.
Watch: The moment Motlanthe called on Zuma to step down