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Mourn, don’t criticise at memorials, Zuma warns colleagues


Johannesburg, South Africa | AFP | South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma on Saturday hit out at critics within his own camp telling them not to use events such as funerals or memorial services to attack each other.

Speaking himself, however, at the inauguration of a former minister’s tombstone, Zuma told colleagues not to use such events “to fight our political battles”.

“It is wrong. That is terrible politics, in fact, dangerous politics,” he said at the event in northern Limpopo province where former public services minister Collins Chabane was buried two years ago.

“Be brave and comradely, confront a comrade if you have got problems with (a) comrade, don’t use comrades who have died as a platform to perpetuate disunity,” he said without mentioning any names.

His comments came after sacked finance minister Pravin Gordhan on Thursday used a Cape Town memorial service for anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Kathrada to warn that the government risked being taken over by “a bunch of gangsters” without making direct reference to Zuma.

Zuma has come under fire in recent days — including from within his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party — after he sacked the widely respected Gordhan.

Zuma’s cabinet overhaul announced last week threatens to split the ANC party, which has been in power since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Gordhan’s dismissal contributed to a credit ratings downgrade to junk status by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch within a week and strengthened calls for Zuma to step down.

Several senior ANC figures have publicly criticised Gordhan’s removal and tens of thousands of South Africans marched on Friday across the country to demand Zuma’s resignation.

Since coming to power in 2009, Zuma has been hit by a series of corruption scandals, while the ANC suffered its worst ever results in local polls last year.

He is due to step down as head of the ANC in December, ahead of the 2019 general election.

 

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