June 22, 2018

Veteran Mandela aide joins call for SA prez Zuma to resign

Johannesburg:Veteran Indian-origin South African freedom fighter and Nelson Mandela’s close aide Ahmed Kathrada has called on the country’s embattled President Jacob Zuma to “submit to the will of the people” and resign in the wake of serious corruption allegations.

Kathrada in an open letter joined increasing calls for Zuma to resign after the country’s highest judicial body, the Constitutional Court, last week found him to have breached his duties in terms of the Constitution.

Kathrada was involved in the movement for democracy and was jailed for 26 years alongside Mandela and others till the end of Apartheid in South Africa in 1994.

“Today I appeal to our President to submit to the will of the people and resign. 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,” Kathrada said.

But despite the call from Kathrada and others from within and outside the ruling ANC, the party’s top executive has not yet taken a decision on whether to recall Zuma as president, the major reason cited by analysts being its feared impact on the party in a local government election later this year.

Tomorrow, parliament will debate a motion tabled by the opposition Democratic Alliance calling for Zuma’s removal.

Zuma has been under attack recently for his close ties to the Gupta business family which hails from Saharanpur, amid claims by senior leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) that they had influenced ministerial positions in his government, something both Zuma and the Guptas have denied.

Zuma was also alleged to have carried about USD 400 million to the Guptas in Dubai on a personal visit.

With huge business interests in South Africa, the wealthy Gupta family, which reportedly enjoys close ties with 73-year-old Zuma, has been under fire for exerting undue influence on the government.

Zuma is also under pressure to step down after a damning ruling by the Constitutional Court found him in breach of the constitution for using public funds to upgrade his private home at Nkandla village.

The president who has long denied any wrongdoing for the work valued in 2014 around USD 24 million, last week apologised for the misuse of public funds.

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