The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation on Sunday said it was “repulsed” at recent comments by President Jacob Zuma, which insinuate that anti-apartheid struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada was manipulated into writing the letter calling on the President to resign.
President Zuma, in a recent interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, questioned whether Kathrada had actually written the letter, and hinted that due to his age, he could have been manipulated into doing so.
“This misrepresentation of facts to the South African public is a sad reflection of President Zuma, who has simply dismissed Kathrada’s views as that of an old man who had lost his mind,” the foundation outlined.
It noted that false information that the letter was written by his wife Barbara Hogan, as retaliation for being removed from her post as a minister, has also been peddled previously. “We reject these claims,” the foundation noted.
Kathrada finalised the letter on March 31, 2016, and had it sent to the Presidency on April 1, 2016. “It was only after the President’s lack of acknowledgment of responsibility to the public for his actions during his subsequent address to the nation, that Kathrada requested that the letter be made public.
“To hint that Kathrada was an old senile man, who was prone to being manipulated, is nothing short of an insult to the struggle icon’s lifelong activism. Kathrada was active, both mentally and physically, up until a month before he passed on. The many who had an opportunity to engage with him throughout 2016, leading up to early 2017, would attest to his sound mental health,” said the organisation
The foundation further noted that the President’s statements were “deeply hurtful” to the struggle stalwart’s family, and the staff, the board and management of the foundation who worked with Kathrada.
“The President cannot ignore the range of individuals who have called for his resignation. [He] cannot argue that the many African National Congress struggle stalwarts who gathered at Constitution Hill recently, calling for him to step down, were all too old to think for themselves,” the foundation added.