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Kathrada was a selfless freedom fighter & a vocal critic of Zuma

Just last year the struggle stalwart wrote an open letter to Zuma in which he implored him to resign.

FILE: Ahmed Kathrada. Picture: @KathradaFound/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Ahmed Kathrada is being remembered on Tuesday afternoon as a selfless freedom fighter, a champion of the people and a role model to all leaders.

The struggle stalwart died on Tuesday morning in Johannesburg at the age of 87.

In recent years, Kathrada was a vocal critic of President Jacob Zuma.

Just last year the struggle stalwart wrote an open letter to Zuma in which he implored him to resign.

“Dear Comrade President, don’t you think your continued stay as President will only serve to deepen the crisis of confidence in the government of the country?”

And with those words struggle stalwart Kathrada made his position on President Zuma abundantly clear.

In the letter, he describes how he agonised for a while before writing to the president adding it was painful for him.

He said it had never occurred to him that the time would come when he would feel obliged to express his concerns in this manner.

He reminded Zuma that the position of president is one that “must at all times unite the country behind a vision and programme that seeks to make tomorrow a better day than today for all South Africans”.

He added - it's a position that requires the respect of all South Africans and which must be earned.

Kathrada raised difficult issues saying he did not speak out about Nkandla, or when he felt insulted when the President was labelled a 'thief' and a 'rapist' or when he was accused of being under the influence of the Guptas.

But the struggle icon felt compelled to speak out when Nhlanhla Nene was fired - as he believed Zuma's decision went against what was in the best interest of the movement.

He says his concern was amplified when it emerged that deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas confirmed that he'd been offered the finance minister post by members of the Gupta family.

Kathrada ended the letter, stating: “There comes a time in the life of every nation when it must chose to submit or fight. Today I appeal to our President to submit to the will of the people and resign.”

To read Ahmed Kathrada's full open letter to President Jacob Zuma, click here.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)