In an open letter dated March 31, Kathrada laments his agony at writing to a sitting president saying he had never felt “the time would come when I would feel obliged to express my concerns to the Honourable President”.
“I have always maintained a position of not speaking out publicly about any differences I may harbour against my leaders and my organisation, the ANC.
“I would only have done so when I thought that some important organisational matters compel me to raise my concerns. Today I have decided to break with that tradition.”
Kathrada goes on to mention matters he did not speak out against including the Nkandla saga and Zuma’s relationship with the Gupta family.
“I did not speak out though I felt it grossly insulting when my President is called a ‘thief’ or a ‘rapist’; or when he is accused of being ‘under the influence of the Guptas’. I believed that the NEC would have dealt with this as the collective leadership of the ANC.”
Kathrada expressed how he felt the removal of Nhlanhla Nene as Minister of Finance “worried” him and how his concern was “amplified” when Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas said he was offered the finance minister post by the Gupta family.
Kathrada said the Constitutional Court ruling on Nkandla placed him in an “introspective mode and I had to ask myself some very serious and difficult questions”.
“Now that the court has found that the President failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law, how should I relate to my President?
“If we are to continue to be guided by growing public opinion and the need to do the right thing, would he not seriously consider stepping down?”
Kathrada went on to question Zuma’s decision to stay in office, asking whether it would not deepen the “crisis of confidence” in government.
“And bluntly, if not arrogantly; 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 warned that if Zuma did step down, his “outstanding contribution to the liberation struggle stands to be severely tarnished”.
‘I know that if I were in the President’s shoes, I would step down with immediate effect. I believe that is what would help the country to find its way out of a path that it never imagined it would be on, but one that it must move out of soon.”