A South African anti-apartheid veteran has called on President Jacob Zuma to resign following a scandal over improper spending at his private home.
Ahmed Kathrada, who was jailed alongside Nelson Mandela, said that Mr Zuma’s resignation would end a “crisis of confidence” in the government.
Mr Zuma said on Friday he would repay the money but would remain in his post. He has faced widespread calls for his resignation from South Africa’s opposition.
South Africa’s highest court ruled that Mr Zuma had failed to uphold the constitution by ignoring instructions to repay some of the $16m in state funds spent on renovations at his private residence.
In a televised address on Friday, Mr Zuma made no reference to the calls for his resignation.
The leadership of Mr Zuma’s party, the African National Congress, said it was united behind its leader, but the intervention of 86-year-old Mr Kathrada, a party veteran, may carry weight.
Along with Mr Mandela, Mr Kathrada was among eight ANC activists sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of trying to overthrow the apartheid government during the 1963-1964 Rivonia Trial.
In an open letter published in South African media, Mr Kathrada said: “In the face of such persistently widespread criticism, condemnation and demand, is it asking too much to express the hope that you will choose the correct way that is gaining momentum, to consider stepping down?
“I know that if I were in the president’s shoes, I would step down with immediate effect.”