The ANC leadership has a huge task in politically educating its youth on tolerance, according to the party’s treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize.
Mkhize was heckled and booed during his address at late struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada’s third memorial, which took place in Durban.
The event on Sunday saw large crowds of President Jacob Zuma’s supporters who attended.
Axed finance minister Pravin Gordhan, who was a keynote speaker at the event, had also been booed at during his address. Both senior leaders experienced ANC attendees disrupting their addresses as they sang songs in praise of Zuma.
“It is clear that the ANC leadership has a huge task to embark on political education to teach our youth tolerance of different views and respect for the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom,” Mkhize said in an official statement.
“The memorial service of Cde Ahmed Kathrada in KwaZulu-Natal was today marred by at heckling incident against me.
“At a personal level such heckling does not affect me. I have been through worse situations and understand this in politics. For some people it’s their way to express themselves.”
He added that the memorial service “was a beautiful representation of the nonracial and nonsexist credentials of the ANC, from the youth to senior citizens, many of whom have known struggle credentials”.
“On behalf of the ANC we wish to apologise to those who were invited for the embarrassment and inconvenience caused.
“The behaviour remains unacceptable now as it has always been when it happened to other leaders in the organisation, as it erodes respect for the ANC.
“It is a challenge leadership has to address. There is a need for leadership to dismantle factions that are tearing apart the organisation and urgently work to rebuild unity and deal with differences that play out in the open.”
Mkhize called on “all comrades to avoid using such solemn occasions to exacerbate tensions and embarrass the ANC”.
The ANC Youth League was granted permission in a court ruling this weekend to allow its members to attend the memorial.
Some attendees on Sunday were heard saying the event had been hijacked.
Busloads of ANC members arrived as early as 11am, according to organisers. They began filling up the hall by 1pm for the event, which began at 3pm.
Gordhan, speaking after the event, called members ill-disciplined.
“We don’t know who disrupted whom there; everybody got disrupted. That’s very poor discipline on the part of ANC members, so we have got to get that right,” Gordhan charged.
“That’s not Kathrada’s ANC.”
ANC KwaZulu-Natal chair Sihle Zikalala, who attended the event, also condemned the disruptions.