Don't use dead comrades to deepen ANC divisions - Jacob Zuma

President launches thinly-veiled attack on former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan

Malamulele - President Jacob Zuma has hit out at "comrades" who used memorials as a way to "perpetuate disunity" within the ANC.

Zuma was speaking at an unveiling ceremony of the tombstone of the late Minister of Public Services and Administration, Collins Chabane, in Limpopo on Saturday.

Chabane died in 2015 in a car accident along with two of his bodyguards while on their way from Polokwane in Limpopo to Tshwane.

In a thinly-veiled attack on former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who has recently been the keynote speaker at several memorial events for struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada where he has spoken out against Zuma, Zuma dismissed this as a "new culture" that should be rejected.

He commended the speakers at the Chabane ceremony who had refrained from using the memorial as a political platform.

"I'm happy that not a single one did so. Whoever would have done so, I would have come and said, '[No], sorry'.

"Be brave and confront a comrade if you have problems with a comrade. Don't use the comrades who have died to perpetuate disunity... So I want to thank you, and the comrades. At least you are helping to give an example of how to treat comrades who have passed away. You can't use them as an instrument to further deepen the divisions."

Zuma went on to say that he was happy that no one had used Chabane's name to fight their battles.

"To use the funeral or the memorial of a fellow comrade to fight our political battles will be wrong. It will never be right, no matter how you feel," he said as some members of the crowd cheered.

Zuma refrained from addressing Friday's nationwide protests, calling for him to step down.

The anti-Zuma protests, in which government estimated some 60 000 people participated, took place a week after Zuma announced a cabinet reshuffle. Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, were fired from their positions as a result.

South Africa has since been downgraded to junk status by two ratings agencies. The rolling protests are expected to continue during the coming week.

Meanwhile Chabane's sister Ellah Chabane said the family was still struggling to accept the death of their relative, saying that it was difficult to celebrate his life when they were still grieving his death.

Zuma was accompanied by several government ministers including Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha, Cooperative Governance minister Des Van Rooyen, Transport minister Joe Maswanganyi, Health deputy minister Joe Phaahla, Public Service and Administration minister Faith Muthambi and ANC national member deployed to Limpopo Ruth Bhengu.