Kathrada Foundation chastises DA’s Steenhuisen for using struggle hero’s name

File photo of former Robben Island inmate and Struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada Picture: Chris Collingridge/ANA Archives

File photo of former Robben Island inmate and Struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada Picture: Chris Collingridge/ANA Archives

Published May 25, 2023


Cape Town - The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has chastised DA leader John Steenhuisen for his speech in Chatsworth, Durban, on Saturday, in which he used the name of the late Struggle hero to make a point in his ongoing campaign against the Employment Equity Amendment Bill.

In his speech, Steenhuisen called for a mass defiance campaign against the bill in the style of those Kathrada championed and was sent to jail for during the anti-apartheid struggle.

He said in part: “I’m sharing this story with you because I’d like all of us here to consider what Uncle Kathy would say about the ANC’s new racial quota law.”

He said that in KZN the ANC wanted to limit the share of Indian people working in skilled positions at every company in the retail industry.

“The story of Uncle Kathy teaches us that mass-based defiance campaigns can defeat any law that excludes people from certain jobs and areas on the basis of their skin colour,” he said.

DA leader John Steenhuisen. File Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Dissociating the Kathrada Foundation from the speech, spokesperson Zusipe Batyi said reference to Kathrada’s Indian ancestry was mischievous.

“The disturbing point is that the DA narrative assumes that Kathrada would have been enthusiastic about its call for defiance of a law that will be approved by a democratic Parliament, and that he would have done so because he was Indian,” he said.

Batyi said Kathrada abhorred racism and exploitation and would have been appalled at “attempts to alleviate his Indianness and Struggle contribution in a crude, fear-mongering and vote-catching exercise as the DA has done”.

He said although the foundation appreciated the DA citing Kathrada’s role in the Struggle, “not a single DA national leader was at his funeral”.

Batyi said the DA should not claim to know Kathrada’s response to current issues, as “during his life there was no attempt by the DA to engage him to better understand his political values and life”.

The statement from the foundation ended with a plea to the DA and other parties to “refrain from using the names of liberation heroes and heroines to draw false historical narratives and conclusions from their lives”.