ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said there was no need for the president to respond to Kathrada’s letter, further saying he did not believe that even the late stalwart was expecting a response.
“Nothing stops veterans from walking to Luthuli House and guide us.”
On whether he thought late stalwart was wrong in writing an open letter to the president, Mantashe said there was nothing wrong or right in politics. He said Kathrada had achieved his goals with regards to the leader.
“It was published in newspapers, the public read it, people commented, that’s it,” he said.
Responding to the criticism from former leaders, ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize said current leaders should not take to heart what the stalwarts were saying, as it was their responsibility to guide as they saw fit.
He said the issues raised by ANC leaders were important and had to be dealt with within the party, which according to him, was committed to addressing them.
However, he also said he believed it was important for the stalwarts to talk to the current leaders in private instead of going to the media, which would “misinterpret” what they were saying.
Former president Kgalema Motlanthe received a standing ovation on Wednesday at Ahmed Kathrada’s funeral after quoting an excerpt from a letter in which the late ANC veteran called on President Jacob Zuma to step down.
While most of the ANC leaders including Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan and Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe applauded the former president, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and former president Thabo Mbeki remained seated.
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The president has not yet responded to the letter, which was written more than a year ago. When asked why the president had not responded to the letter, Radebe said he was not in any position to comment on the matter.
“I think we should leave it to the president to tell us why he has not responded,” he said.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura also used the podium to tell political leaders to listen to stalwarts. Makhura was given a welcome speech on behalf of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.
Makhura said even when buried, Kathrada would continue to be a voice of reason.
“When our stalwarts speak and try to correct us, we must listen as current leaders,” Makhura said. The funeral service of ‘Uncle Kathy’, as he was fondly known, has been attended by various stalwarts, including former President Thabo Mbeki, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Andrew Mlangeni.
EFF leader Julius Malema is also there seated next to Madikizela-Mandela, while the likes of Gwede Mantashe, Cyril Ramaphosa and Pravin Gordhan are also there to pay their last respects.
Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has also arrived at the West Park cemetery in Johannesburg, where ANC veteran Ahmed Kathrada will be laid to rest. Speaking to journalists, Ramaphosa said the funeral marked a very sad moment in the country, considering the important role Kathrada played in the fight against apartheid.
Ramaphosa is expected to lead the send off. Uncle Kathy, as he was known by many, will be buried next to other prominent South African figures, including Solomon ‘Stix’ Morewa.
The tribute programme is expected to commence as soon as the body of Kathrada arrives at about 10am. Before his death on Tuesday, Kathrada was among the remaining three Rivonia trialists.
Mourners continued to arrive at the West Park cemetery in Johannesburg ahead of the funeral service of fallen ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada.
‘Uncle Kathy’, as he was called by many, passed away on Tuesday morning in hospital, where he spent the last couple of weeks after undergoing surgery.
His body will arrive shortly before 9.30am on Wednesday. Preparations have been well under way, with a huge marquee not far from where Kathrada will be buried.
Among the prominent people expected at the funeral include ANC struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe,.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to represent national government.