Daily Archives: April 2, 2016

South Africa: Anti-Apartheid Veteran Calls for President Zuma to Step Down

By Elizabeth Schumacher

Lifelong South African rights activist and former Mandela advisor, Ahmed Kathrada has called for President Zuma to leave the government. A court has ruled that Zuma misused public funds to upgrade his private home.

Veteran South African activist Ahmed Kathrada has joined a growing chorus of voices calling for the resignation of President Jacob Zuma.

The 86-year-old who was jailed with Nelson Mandela in the 1960s, asked Zuma to “submit to the will of the people” following a Thursday court ruling that declared the president had violated the constitution.

“Today I appeal to our President to submit to the will of the people and resign,” said Kathrada in an open letter published by local media.

“I know that if I were in the President’s shoes, I would step down with immediate effect,” Kathrada wrote.

Kathrada further warned Zuma that he should be aware that his “outstanding contribution to the liberation struggle stands to be severely tarnished if the remainder of your term as President continues to be dogged by crises, and a growing public loss of confidence in the ANC and government as a whole.” He was referring to the ruling African National Congress party, of which Zuma is currently head and Kathrada is a longtime member.

Zuma defiant

South Africa’s Constitutional Court found Zuma guilty of having used public funds to renovate his private home, a property valued at some $24 million (21 million euros) in 2014. He added a swimming pool and a cattle enclosure but wrote them off as necessary “security” measures.

The court ordered Zuma to repay some $14.6 million to the public coffers.

After long denying that he had done anything wrong, Zuma apologized for the transgression, the latest in a series of scandals to hit his presidency. But he has so far refused to step down.

The South African leader continues to face criticism over his close relationship with wealthy business magnates from the influential Gupta family, who are said to play an undue role influencing policy.

The president’s financial scandals are seen by some as a signal of how widespread corruption has become within the ANC, which has ruled since the country’s first free elections in 1994.

A member of South Africa’s ethnic Indian population, Kathrada began working as a peace and anti-Apartheid activist as a teenager. In 1964, he was sentenced alongside Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, and several others to life imprisonment for continuing the activities of the then-banned ANC.

Like Mandela, Kathrada spent his time in jail on the infamous Robben Island and was finally released in 1990. He later served as an advisor to Mandela during his presidency.

Source: All Africa

South Africa: Anti-Apartheid Veteran Urges Zuma to Resign

An anti-apartheid activist jailed alongside Nelson Mandela called on Jacob Zuma to step down, adding pressure on South Africa’s president to quit after a court ruled he acted dishonestly over improper state spending at his private home.

“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?” anti-apartheid veteran, Ahmed Kathrada, said in a letter published on Saturday.

“In the face of such persistently widespread criticism, condemnation and demand, is it asking too much to express the hope that you will choose the correct way that is gaining momentum, to consider stepping down?” Kathrada asked in the letter, dated March 31.

Mandela and Kathrada were among eight African National Congress (ANC) activists sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of trying to overthrow the apartheid government during the 1963-1964 Rivonia Trial.

South Africa’s top court on Thursday held that Zuma had failed to uphold the constitution by ignoring instructions to pay back some of the $16 mn in state funds spent on renovations at his sprawling residence at Nkandla.

In a televised address to the nation on Friday evening, 73-year-old Zuma apologised and said he would pay back some of the money, as ordered, and that he never knowingly or deliberately set out to violate the constitution.

He made no reference to calls for him to resign, led domestically by Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane and the Economic Freedom Fighters party led by Julius Malema.

The opposition also launched impeachment proceedings against Zuma but these are unlikely to be successful because of the ANC’s strong majority in parliament.

The ANC’s top leadership said it was united behind its leader, though the 86-year-old Kathrada’s intervention may carry weight within the party, which has governed the country since apartheid ended in 1994.

The calls for Zuma to quit dominated local newspaper headlines and got high-profile play abroad.

The scandal is arguably the biggest yet to hit Zuma, who has fended off accusations of corruption, influence peddling and rape since before he took office in 2009.

Speaking on Talk Radio 702, Kathrada Foundation Director Neeshan Balton confirmed publication of the letter, which was ran on media websites www.timeslive.co.za and www.enca.com.

Source: Al Jazeera

Presidency rejects Malema’s allegation

The Presidency has rejected the preposterous and malicious allegation by Julius Malema, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, that President Jacob Zuma carried R6 billion to Dubai for the Gupta family.

“Mr Malema’s allegation has no basis in fact,” the Presidency said in a statement on Saturday.

“Mr Malema’s malicious allegations are both untruthful and defamatory. The Presidency reserves its rights in this regard.”

President Zuma recently concluded successful visits to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to strengthen bilateral trade and economic relations between South Africa and the two countries, respectively.

Source: South African Government News Agency Republic of South Africa