Gauteng: Mokonyane wasn't booed

2010-03-24 20:19

Johannesburg - The heckling at Human Rights celebrations in Sharpeville was not targeted at Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, her office said on Wednesday.

"In fact, the heckling started between a small group of ANC and PAC supporters long before the speakers commenced with their speeches," said Mokonyane's spokesperson Dumisani Zulu in a statement.

"It was clear that the agenda of this group was to spoil the event as they attempted to heckle every speaker."

Zulu said the government was aware of plans to disrupt the event a week earlier and had intervened.

The intervention included "consultations and comprehensive discussion" between government and political party representatives and the community.

Zulu did not reveal who was responsible for disrupting the event.

He could not immediately be reached to elaborate.

Provincial power struggle

Mokonyane, who is Gauteng ANC deputy chairperson, is reportedly locked in a struggle to lead the ANC in the province with current Gauteng provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile.

Beeld newspaper reported Mokonyane was booed and insulted during the celebrations in Sharpeville in the Vaal Triangle on Sunday.

Party members from the Sedibeng District reportedly blew whistles and vuvuzelas before and during Mokonyane's speech and hurled insults at her.

Some even showed obscene hand signals at her.

Others held placards with slogans such as: "Mokonyane is selling out the ANC" and "Mashatile for chairman".

Wanted to spoil event

Zulu said the political leaders of various parties tried, unsuccessfully, to calm the "unruly group".

"However, when speakers took to the podium, the disruptive conduct ensued once more by the few people who deliberately occupied the space in front of the stage.

"It was clear that the agenda of this group was to spoil the event as they attempted to heckle every speaker."

He described the group as an "insignificant number" whose actions had no impact on the premier's address.

The ANC in Gauteng said it could not determine whether the group was a faction supporting Mashatile until it investigated the matter.

Mashatile, currently Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, lost the position of premier to Mokonyane last year. She was supported by national ANC leaders, including President Jacob Zuma.