Jacob Zuma's decision to resign as the president of South Africa did not mean that the battle against corruption and state capture has ended, the foundation of Indian-origin activist Ahmed Kathrada said today.
Zuma, 75, announced he had stepped down in a nationally-televised address, three days after the ruling African National Congress's national leadership decided to ask him to resign, which he had defiantly refused.
"Despite it having taken a long time for the voices of ordinary people to be heard, we can finally celebrate that the President, who had become a symbol of the erosion of state integrity, has left office," said Neeshan Balton, Executive Director of the Foundation named after the late veteran activist and close friend of Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon.
Kathrada spent 26 years and 3 months in prison, including 18 years on the infamous Robben Island, as one of the political prisoners of the apartheid government. He died at the age of 87 last year.
"On this occasion, I wish that Ahmed Kathrada could have been with us to know that his letter, written almost two years ago, calling on Zuma to step down, had eventually struck a chord," Balton said.
"I think that he would have been saddened that it had taken so long for Zuma to 'submit to the will of the people', but also proud of the work done by individuals across all sectors of society, putting pressure on the ANC to take the decision to recall him, leading to his resignation," he said.
He also stands accused of having been influenced by various people to appoint people to ministerial positions and as heads of parastatal bodies who would support state capture plans and corrupt activities to syphon of billions of rand of public money.
South Africa's elite police unit had yesterday arrested three people as they raided the Johannesburg home of India-born Guptas, a controversial business family linked to Zuma.
The Gupta brothers have been accused of wielding enormous political influence in South Africa, with critics alleging that they have tried to "capture the state" to advance their own business interests.
Zuma's links to the Guptas was one of the reasons he was being forced to resign before the 2019 general election.
Balton cautioned though, that while Zuma's recall is indeed a victory for the people, the fight against state capture is ongoing.
"We have removed someone who had presided over a systemic process of state capture that has crept into all tiers of government," Balton said.
"The ANC leadership now has a duty to ensure that corruption is tackled and that any attempt to exonerate those behind its facilitation is quashed," Balton said as he called for firm action," he said.
"We furthermore hope that law enforcement agencies are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who have facilitated state capture. There must be serious consequences for the corrupt, to serve as a deterrent to others. There must be justice," Balton said.
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