One wise man once wrote: "A silence in the midst of injustice is self-betrayal." The booing of president Zuma at the FNB Stadium was nothing that can be associated with ill-discipline, but the expression of the low level of affection that the public has towards the president.
Those 'boooo' sounds emanated from the throats of disgruntled people exercising their right to freedom of expression. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others strictly condemned the booing of the president at an event that was meant to pay tribute to our fallen icon, Nelson Mandela, but I don't want to entertain the issue of whether the platform was right or not because I am not an expert when it comes to morality.
Jackson Mthembu, the ANC spokesperson was quoted as saying: "We are not happy at all. We would have preferred that all who attended this ceremony gave Madiba a well-deserved send-off. It came as a bolt to all of us."
Dear Jackson Mthembu, of course all the people who attended the event gave Madiba a well-deserved send-off because he was the people's president, but unfortunately the same respect could not also be extended to Zuma. It doesn't work like that son of the soil, dignity is not contagious.
People cannot fake happiness just to protect the image of the person who consistently exploit them, contrary to what Madiba would have wanted. When Zuma talks about the good that Madiba did, but fail to emulate Madiba himself, let alone coming close to doing that, he deserved what came his way.
The lesson that the ANC should take from this incident is that it gave them an opportunity to find out how the people actually feel about the current state of affairs in the country. That behaviour the people showed was inspired by Zuma's leadership blunders and lack of accountability.
The people are disappointed with the current crop of leaders to such an extent that they can't hold their anger and disgust. After all, it was Steve Biko who once said; "If you realise you are being oppressed and you choose to keep quiet about your oppression, you become your own oppressor."
Zuma has many scandals hovering over his head and him getting booed in front of fellow statesmen was not something that took him by surprise. It hurts when he urges the public to follow on the steps of the former president but fails to emulate Madiba's leadership skills himself.
Mandela was neither greedy, selfish nor arrogant. He loved his people and he knew they deserved better. During Madiba's term in office, there were hardly cases of corruption nor nepotism, there were no e-tolls, Waterkloof was never used for personal gains, there was no multi-million house built for him with taxpayers' money, there was togetherness and the trust and affection that people had towards him was so out of this world.
Zuma must acknowledge that respect is earned, not demanded. Through booing him, the people have spoken. The 2014 elections will be another proof that the people have discovered a new way of saying: "We are fed up."
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