Amanda Watson news editor The Citizen obituary

By Amanda Watson

News Editor


Mandela foundation mourns Kathrada, vows to ‘carry on his work’

Kathrada was openly critical of President Jacob Zuma and once wrote him an open letter, urging him to resign.


Speakers at a public gathering to reminisce about Ahmed Kathrada at the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) on Tuesday tore into corruption and slack leadership in South Africa.

Kathrada, who died on Tuesday, had become openly critical of the way President Jacob Zuma was governing and on March 31 last year, wrote an open letter to Zuma, appealing to him to resign.

“Now that the court has found that the president failed to uphold‚ defend and respect the constitution as the supreme law‚ how should I relate to my president? If we are to continue to be guided by growing public opinion and the need to do the right thing‚ would he not seriously consider stepping down?” Kathrada wrote to Zuma.

Ironically, the letter was written shortly after Nenegate, when Zuma replaced finance minister Nhlanhla Nene with Des van Rooyen. This hurt South Africa economically, forcing Zuma to recall Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.

NMF CEO Sello Hatang said Kathrada should tell struggle greats that those left behind would carry on his work.

“Tell them we will fight for a nonracial [and nonsexist]  country, one which won’t be xenophobic, but also one that will be corruption free,” said Hatang.

“The sense of social justice and unfinished work places a huge responsibility on all of us. We would be failing him and his generation if we don’t stop the rot that is setting in today.”

Mandela’s daughter Zenani Mandela-Dlamini lamented the loss of strong leadership. “Let us speak the truth today. Uncle Kathy is the last of a generation of men and women who fought so valiantly for the liberation of our country, and still managed to practice what they preached, to walk the talk, which we now grasp is no easy task,” she said.

Roshan Dadoo, daughter of political activist Yusuf Dadoo, said Kathrada was a man who had the strength of his convictions.

“What other leader would have the courage of his own convictions to support the students, to try to understand their ways of struggle, what their demands were, and to support their demand for free education?” asked Dadoo, referring to the fees must fall movement.

“People earn respect and, unfortunately, many of our current leaders have lost my respect.”

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