Anger among senior ANC leaders is mounting following the hijacking of Ahmed Kathrada’s funeral yesterday by an anti-Jacob Zuma faction.

Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe said the behaviour of former president Kgalema Motlanthe and his fellow speakers at the funeral smacked of defiance against the ANC principles and values not to air their dirty laundry in public.

“We’ve just come out of a constructive national executive committee (NEC) of the ANC where comrades discussed not turning funerals of stalwarts into political mudslinging arenas,” Maphatsoe said.

“We agreed that there shall be restraint. They did something that is un-ANC, it’s wrong, it’s cheap politicking. Those who stood up to attack the president stooped very low.”

ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala accused Motlanthe of upstaging Kathrada’s funeral.

“If they are concerned about the state of affairs of the ANC, they must use internal structures instead of using funerals to vent,” Zikalala said.

ANC Youth League national spokesperson Njabulo Nzuza said it was wrong for Motlanthe to steal the show at Kathrada’s funeral.

“For comrade Motlanthe to say those words as if they were the last wishes of Ahmed Kathrada was very wrong. If you want to be a president, stop going to funerals and behaving as if you are some important person,” Nzuza said.

Motlanthe quoted an open letter from Kathrada in which he called for Zuma’s resignation. It was met with applause from the anti-Zuma supporters including Cabinet ministers Pravin Gordhan, Lindiwe Sisulu, Aaron Motsoaledi and Derek Hanekom.

“In this regard we need not put words into his mouth post facto or posthumously, since, true to his consistent principles, he penned a public letter to the president of our country in which he gave his views about the state in which our nation finds itself,” Motlanthe said.

The excerpt from Kathrada’s letter reads: “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.”

Meanwhile, former minister in the presidency Essop Pahad told The New Age that pinning all of the ANC’s problems on the shoulders of Zuma was disingenuous.

Pahad said calls for Zuma to resign by a faction within the ruling party were inappropriate.

Pahad, a member of a group of party stalwarts and veterans spearheading calls for a national consultative conference, said that Zuma’s resignation would only address the symptoms of the ANC’s ills without providing an antidote to the underlying causes.

“I’ve never agreed to that demand. I think that any political approach which tends to isolate deep-seated structural problems to an individual, you go wrong,” Pahad said.

“Let us assume that Jacob Zuma left at the point at which he was asked to leave. What would have happened?

“In fact the problems in the ANC Motlanthe accused of defiance over remarks at Kathrada funeral would have deepened. The factions would have got more deeply entrenched. Of course the president of an organisation is important but if you don’t deal with the structural problems, if you don’t deal with the root causes, then you’re not going to resolve the problem.”

Pahad also said calls for the ANC’s NEC to be dissolved would exacerbate factions within the ruling party.

“The NEC of the ANC is the most powerful body inside the ANC between national conferences and if the NEC does not do its work properly then the NEC is not taking responsibility, but to demand that the NEC resigns and then what happens? So you must be a ship without a captain, you must be some rudderless thing going into a cyclone that hits the waves.

“You’ll resign and what? Then you must call a national conference to elect new leadership. Who must call that conference? Only the NEC can call that national conference. The idea to say that somebody or something must resign is not something I agree to. I think it’s a wrong demand.”

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party would not comment on the events at Kathrada’s funeral.