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'Kathrada agonised for months about writing letter to Zuma'

It took struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada months to write the letter asking President Zuma to step down, said director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. File picture: Cindy Waxa/Independent Media

It took struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada months to write the letter asking President Zuma to step down, said director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. File picture: Cindy Waxa/Independent Media

Published May 3, 2017

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Durban – It took struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada about six months to write the controversial letter asking President Jacob Zuma to step down, said Neeshan Balton, the director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

Balton was speaking at a memorial service for Kathrada in Tongaat on Wednesday morning.

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“He agonised for months about writing that letter, there were drafts and redrafts. In the end he decided that his loyalty was more to the country than the party and he drafted the letter and sent it,” said Balton.

The revelations that the Gupta family had offered the job of Finance Minister to Deputy Finance Mcebisi Jonas seems to have been one of the unsettling moments for Kathrada that prompted him to complete and send the letter.

Read Ahmed Kathrada's letter here

In the letter, Kathrada states, “I have agonised for a while before writing this letter to you. I am just a rank-and-file member of my ANC Branch... it never occurred to me that the time would come when I would feel obliged to express my concerns to the Honourable President.”

It continued, “I am not a political analyst, but I am now driven to ask: 'Dear Comrade President, don’t you think your continued stay as President will only serve to deepen the crisis of confidence in the government of the country?'”

The latter comment caused controversy and has been repeated at some of Kathrada’s memorial services when comrades called for Zuma to step down.

When Kathrada died, the relations with Zuma were at an all time low and his family asked Zuma not to speak at the funeral.

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Balton also spoke on the future of the foundation without Kathrada; he said in the coming months they would be meeting with stakeholders to redefine the role of the foundation.

“He (Kathrada) was our biggest fundraiser, he lived on his pension and all the money he raised went to the foundation. Now that we no longer have 200- 250 public engagements a year to organise for him, we will define the new role of the foundation but it continue with is function of fighting racisms,” he said.

The Mercury

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