Sipho Pityana. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA
Sipho Pityana. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA

REV Makhenkesi Stofile cried in his "last days" over the crisis facing the ANC, and that was what prompted Sipho Pityana’s scathing comments about the party and its leader‚ Jacob Zuma.

Pityana‚ a former foreign affairs director-general‚ had asked the more than 10,000 mourners to use Stofile’s funeral on Thursday as a turning point, to rid the ANC of bad tendencies such as corruption and nepotism‚ so that the ruling party could return to its former glory.

WATCH ON TIMESLIVE: 'I would have asked him to resign' - Pityana roasts Zuma at Stofile funeral

He also said that‚ if the president had been there‚ he would have pleaded with him to resign.

Zuma had been scheduled to deliver the eulogy‚ but handed those duties to his deputy‚ Cyril Ramaphosa‚ and on Thursday left for Kenya for a conference.

"I was a very quiet cadre for many years‚" Pityana told talk radio station 702’s John Robbie on Friday morning. He said he could no longer hold his silence as he was "pained by what we are going through" as a party and a country.

Pityana said he had been invited by the family to use his tribute at the funeral to reflect on the time he spent with Stofile following his return from a posting as ambassador to Germany.

He told 702 that he had seen Stofile at the time that he "was going through his last days in life under a very aggressive cancer" and "this last time ... he cried and cried bitterly about what is going on".

Pityana was saddened at the sight of a man "who should be fighting to defend his life under very difficult health conditions worrying about the state of the organisation and worrying about the state of the country"‚ and said it "really does invoke in one a sense of responsibility" that "those of us who love this country‚ those who love the ANC‚ get up and do something".

On Friday‚ he also raised Thursday’s standoff between Pravin Gordhan and the Hawks over its probe into an alleged South African Revenue Service (SARS) rogue spy unit‚ calling a it a "pure and unmitigated harassment" of the finance minister.

READ THIS: Gordhan in Eastern Cape to pay last respects to Stofile

At Thursday’s funeral Pityana recalled the court defeat in the Nkandla saga to criticise Zuma‚ saying: "When the Constitutional Court makes a finding that you broke your oath of office. What it means is that you are honourable no longer. What it means is that you are untrustworthy.

"The next battle cannot be led by a leader that has humiliated our organisation and undermined everything that we represent."

Pityana pointed out that when Stofile was accused of corruption‚ he did not play avoidance games or abuse state institutions to block the inquiry‚ but submitted himself to public scrutiny. When it did not find in his favour‚ he did not cast aspersions but took the matter on judicial review and cleared his name.

Stofile‚ who had also served as a sports minister and Eastern Cape premier‚ died at his home in Alice last Monday.

TMG Digital