‘Leaders who walk away from booing are shallow’

By Drum Digital
10 January 2014

Walking away from a booing crowd is a reflection of political shallowness by party leaders, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said.

"In the ANC, if I am booed I stay on because I am given a task to execute by the ANC," Mantashe told reporters in Mpumalanga.

"When I walk away, I don't execute the task given to me."

Mantashe was briefing reporters following a three-day meeting with members of the party's national executive committee (NEC), which ended on Thursday.

"I still do not understand the logic of a leader walking out because he [or she] was booed. I will never understand it, because it reflects political shallowness, from where I am seated."

Mantashe was responding to a question regarding the recent trend of the booing of political leaders.

He said any leader within the African National Congress who was being booed would still be expected to continue their task, unless the situation turned hostile.

"[If] there is a protest and they get booed, we expect them to go back there.

"If the situation is hostile and they must leave, we expect them to go back there [on another day]. That is how we work in the ANC, so I cannot speak for other parties that tell their leaders to run away when they are booed.

He said booing did not pose a threat to life.

"It is just a part of political life. Booing is not a threat, it is just a nuisance in an activity," Mantashe said.

Last month, President Jacob Zuma was booed by a crowd of people who attended former president Nelson Mandela's memorial at the FNB stadium in Soweto.

Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on December 5 at the age of 95. He was buried in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on December 15.

The crowd booed each time Zuma's image appeared on the big screen at the service.

Programme director, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa asked the crowd a number of times to show restraint and be disciplined.

The Gauteng ANC asked the party's national leadership to investigate the booing.

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille was booed off stage by protesters at the launch of the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone in the Western Cape in November.

Helen Zille has reportedly accused Zuma of turning state-funded functions into party political rallies, and of sitting idly by while protesters booed her and disrupted the launch, the Cape Argus reported.

Zille was to have delivered the welcome address at the launch, before Zuma spoke, but supporters believed to be from the ANC prevented her from doing so, the newspaper reported.

Mantashe and other ANC leaders are in Mpumalanga ahead of the ANC's 102nd anniversary celebrations, which take place on Saturday.

- SAPA

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