Zuma skips funeral of South Africa anti-apartheid icon

South African President Jacob Zuma listening to a speaker during the second sitting of the session of the fifth national house of traditional leaders at Tshwane Council Chambers in Pretoria. South Africa’s scandal-hit President Jacob Zuma faces a no-confidence vote in parliament on November 10, 2016 but looks certain to survive despite mounting anger within his party. Zuma has fought off a series of damaging controversies during his presidency, and last week came under further pressure after a corruption probe raised fresh allegations of misconduct. But the 74-year-old, who came to power in 2009, retains strong loyalty among ruling Africa National Congress (ANC) lawmakers and many party activists, particularly in rural areas. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

President Jacob Zuma will not attend the funeral on Wednesday of celebrated South African anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who in recent years had become fiercely critical of the government.

While most of the country’s leadership will be present, Kathrada’s family asked Zuma to skip the event, the president’s office said in a statement.

“President Zuma will not attend the funeral and memorial service in compliance with the wishes of the family,” it said.

Kathrada, one of Nelson Mandela’s closest colleagues in the struggle against white minority rule, died on Tuesday, aged 87.

After his retirement from politics in 1999, Kathrada kept a low profile, but in recent years had chosen to speak out.

He openly criticised the current African National Congress (ANC) government of Zuma, which has been accused of corruption, mismanagement and of failing black South Africans.

Last year Kathrada wrote an open letter to Zuma urging him to step down.

“I know that if I were in the president’s shoes‚ I would step down with immediate effect,” it said.

“Today I appeal to our president to submit to the will of the people and resign.”

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead the government delegation at Kathrada’s funeral.

Kathrada was among those tried and jailed alongside Mandela in the 1964 Rivonia trial, which drew worldwide attention to the brutalities of the apartheid regime.

He died in hospital in Johannesburg after a short illness following brain surgery.

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  • Ojiyovwi

    Zuma should take a leaf out of Mugabe and do the right thing for the blacks who continue to cower before the whites and instead pick on fellow black Africans who are equally suffering the disenfranchisement by the whites planted by the colonials to continue the wanton rape of the land of Africa, Long live Mugabe.