The funeral service for Ahmed Kathrada began on a sombre enough note. Although he was elderly, the passing of Kathrada had been sudden. He had been in rude health for his age until he underwent surgery. As so often happens, one thing went wrong and then another. By Monday evening, Kathrada’s foundation saw fit to warn the public that all was not well, stating that he had pneumonia. His condition had deteriorated and he was being kept comfortable. While the nation restlessly awaited news of Kathrada’s fate, one man was otherwise preoccupied. In the Union Buildings, President Jacob Zuma was planning to fire his finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas. He had been forced to appoint Gordhan after three days of market turmoil in December 2015 brought about by his firing of Nhlanhla Nene and he had regretted the decision ever since, railing against it from the podium as a symptom of how the limits of his power had been exposed. Zuma took an extraordinary step on Mo...

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