President Jacob Zuma has confirmed that he will not attend the funeral of liberation hero Ahmed Kathrada this morning.
It was reported yesterday that he may be barred from attending the funeral – on an instruction given by the stalwart before his death.
The Mail & Guardian learned from close family sources that, in the final stretch of is life, Kathrada told those close to him that he didn’t want Zuma at his funeral.
The presidency confirmed this morning that Zuma will not attend. “President Zuma will not attend the funeral and memorial service in compliance with the wishes of the family,” it said in a statement.
“Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead the government delegation to the funeral and memorial service.”
Relations between Zuma and Kathrada are believed to have soured after the late anti-apartheid fighter expressed criticism of the president in an open letter, calling on him to “submit to the will of the people and resign”.
Speaking at a gathering at the Nelson Mandela Foundation today, anti-apartheid activist Sophie de Bruyn said Kathrada would be remembered for always speaking up to power.
“He wasn’t afraid to speak to power. He was like that from his young days, not mincing his words,” she said.
Zuma had initially reacted to the passing of ANC struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada by declaring a “special official funeral” will be held.