Johannesburg - Barbara Hogan, ANC stalwart and the widow of the late anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Kathrada said she was deeply hurt by President Jacob Zuma’s decision to fire ministers immediately after the funeral of her husband, adding that the president had “gone rogue”.
Zuma defied his own party, the African National Congress (ANC) and went ahead to remove finance minister Pravin Gordhan, she said.
“This means the president is not applying his mind on decision making about one of the most critical issues in our country…the decision about team of people to lead our country, that is an indictment of the president when his own is rejecting him… his own party rejects what he has done,” Hogan told reporters in Johannesburg.
“If this is not a defining moment in our history, nothing will be. Looking at citizens of this country, I think all of us are utterly dismayed, we love this country and hopes… that a president can think of withdrawing a finance minister from an important international roadshow… if he think he can do that and there will be no consequences for the poor, shows what an inept president we have.”
She said her family welcomed the memorial service by the Presidency for Kathrada that was billed to take place in Soweto on Saturday. The service has however been postponed indefinitely.
“Last night when the news began to filter through about the dastardly deeds that were being done in dark corners of this country, many of us in the family began to have a second thoughts about whether we wanted to have a commemoration by a president who have clearly gone rogue, and defied his own party,” she said.
Hogan, who was an ANC Cabinet minister, said she was angered after hearing about the changes in Zuma’s executive.
“I was incredibly angered. If this was a presidency that was listening to the sentiments in this country, including the sentiments at Kathrada funeral alone, they would have been alerted to the high notions and feelings going around in this country,” an emotional Hogan said.
“This says to us that the president is willing to push ahead with his personal agenda of greed, corruption and self interests regardless of the sentiments in this country. We did not fight for that and do no accept that.”
She added that Kathrada having written a public letter this time a year ago asking Zuma to resign, the president could have held off and waited before reshuffling Cabinet in a week that Katharada died.
The Ahmed Kathada Foundation director Neeshan Balton said they were shocked to hear of the postponement of the memorial service.
“This was cancelled without any consultation whatsoever with his wife, the family and the foundation. We have discussed this memorial with the Presidency over the last few days and immediately after the funeral so it came as a shock that it was postponed without reasons given,” said Balton.
“We view this conduct by the president at exactly one year after Kathrada’s letter as unacceptable. The memorial would have been an ideal opportunity for the State to pay home to Kathrada who for the quarters of a century selflessly sacrificed his life for the people.”
He condemned the firing of Gordhan and and urged MPs and political parties to unite and pass a motion of no confidence against Zuma in Parliament.
In the light of the cancellation of the State memorial service, the foundation would hold its own commemoration for Kathrada at Johannesburg’s city hall at 2pm on Saturday. Gordhan and Hogan would be among the speakers, Balton said.