Zuma gets 'rain boo' wake up, but will tough it out

2013-12-11 17:17

Johannesburg - The booing of President Jacob Zuma at former president Nelson Mandela's memorial laid bare popular anger against him, but the thick-skinned ANC leader can call on a powerful political base to carry him and the party through elections next year.

Zuma, who was popular when he took over the presidency in 2009, suffered public humiliation on Tuesday in front of world leaders when thousands attending the rain-soaked Mandela commemoration booed and jeered him.

The president, no stranger to criticism in a scandal-plagued tenure, endured the public pillorying with a stony face. But it must have hurt him to hear those who booed, some wearing ANC T-shirts, then cheering US President Barack Obama and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

Even more painful would have been the audible cheers for apartheid's last white leader, former president FW de Klerk, and even for former president Thabo Mbeki, the man Zuma replaced as ANC leader in 2007 in a tumultuous party takeover.

Newspapers splashed the booing incident on their front pages. "Zuma's humiliation", the Star said in its headline. The Johannesburg Times headline read "Rain boo nation", a sarcastic play on the multi-racial "Rainbow Nation" Mandela proclaimed when he became SA's first black president in 1994.

Writing in the Daily Maverick, political commentator Stephen Grootes called the Zuma booing experience "some sort of turning point in our public discourse".

"For someone who used to be met with rapturous ululation wherever he went, this is a huge change," he added.

But while in many nations such a crushing public humiliation would probably have led to a resignation, or calls for swift leadership change, the ANC's monolithic dominance of the political landscape since the end of apartheid in 1994 means such outcomes are not immediately likely.

"The ANC today is not Mandela's ANC. People may be angry with Zuma but the guy is too thick skinned to do anything about it. He will brush it off as another unfortunate incident," a member of the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC), who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

Although Zuma's popularity is at an all time low among voters, dented by almost daily accusations of mismanagement and corruption, the party once led by Mandela remains the country's most popular political movement and is still likely to comfortably win the elections due in April or May next year.

Loyalty in the face of adversity still counts for a lot in the former liberation movement. "Zuma is the president of the ANC and the party won't drop him for the election," said another senior party insider who did not want to be named.

"The ANC executive is stacked with Zuma supporters whose political fortunes are tied to him. Dropping him will end their careers too," the source added.

'Sign of democracy'

Zuma, who under apartheid spent a decade imprisoned at Robben Island penal colony at the same time as Mandela, had been hoping that the wave of adoring emotion triggered by the anti-apartheid legend's death would lift his government's faltering image as it grapples with violent labour unrest and protests over persisting poverty, crime and unemployment.

That hope has backfired, with Tuesday's episode eloquently revealing just how low Zuma's popularity has fallen.

"This is a sign of maturing democracy. When people are unhappy with their leadership it is their democratic right to express that unhappiness and this is what I think happened," said Nhlonipho Dhlomo, one of the thousands who witnessed the booing of Zuma at the packed Soccer City stadium.

To reinforce the verbal message, Zuma's hostile hecklers on Tuesday gave the thumbs down sign or rotated their hands in the sign for a soccer substitution - a clear call for replacement.

ANC spokespersons sought to play down the booing episode, blaming it on unruly individuals not broadly representative.

While the party trumpets a Mandela-inspired campaign message of creating "a better life for all", Zuma's image has been tarnished by repeated allegations that the president has used his political connections to benefit family members and inner circle in business deals.

The presidency regularly and routinely rejects such accusations, if it responds at all.

But the scandals are potentially damaging. SA is one of the most unequal societies in the world and the ANC has its power base in millions of the rural poor who are yet to see the fruits of Mandela's lifelong fight for freedom.

The country's top official corruption watchdog, the Public Protector, is investigating a $21m publicly funded "security upgrade" to Zuma's private home that included a swimming pool and cattle enclosure. Zuma denies any wrongdoing.

Who was booing?

Not all the public reaction to the booing of Zuma has been completely critical of him. Citizens talking on Twitter and radio stations have criticised the hecklers for spoiling an important tribute to the "father of the nation", Mandela.

"Whatever people might think of Zuma and his shenanigans - and there are many - we are all obliged to give him respect," the Sowetan newspaper said in an editorial.

Some commentators say the fact the booing incident occurred in Gauteng, South Africa's richest and most populous province, is significant.

Gauteng ANC members campaigned against Zuma's re-election at a party leadership conference a year ago, but he won with support from eight of the nation's nine provinces.

"It's important at this point to look at who was actually doing the booing," Grootes wrote.

"This was a long way from the rural poor. And it certainly wasn't the urban white or minority. Rather, it was the middle-class black urban resident," he added, arguing it would never have occurred at an event in Zuma's power base, KwaZulu-Natal or Mandela's home base, the conservative Eastern Cape province.

"We should be careful not to over-read this episode, Zuma has firm control over the ANC, and his power base is in KwaZulu-Natal, not Gauteng," said John Campbell, a former US Ambassador to Nigeria who is senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

But Zuma does seem to be having problems getting through to ordinary South Africans.

In a bizarre twist, South Africa's leading deaf association said a fake sign language interpreter was at Zuma's side at the Mandela memorial, gesticulating gibberish and outraging deaf people across the country and the world.

  • Jay Hull - 2013-12-11 17:26

    Oh shut up, sit down and chew something, your comment has nothing to so with the article. Idiot l.

      Anele Bungane - 2013-12-11 18:53

      I was at FNB stadium yesterday and the rank and file of the ANC are sick and tired of Zuma and his shenanigans. The booing was unplanned and so spontaneous, almost everybody was booing the idiot. I will be voting for the EFF next year but now I know that ANC followers are not a flock of sheep, they can think. Zuma is driving them over the edge with each passing day, I can't wait for next year's elections. Hasta el final, vamos EFF.

      Richard Stockenström - 2013-12-11 19:06

      Anele, you are voting for the EFF next year? What a shame, you sounded intelligent there for just a moment.

      Richard Stockenström - 2013-12-11 19:14

      Maybe you should add a zero to the R21million you say he stole in this article News24! He stole R210 million. TWO HUNDRED and ten MILLION RAND!!!

      Craig Wicker - 2013-12-11 19:32

      @Richard. The article was written by Reuters and not News24 and the currency stated in the article is in US$

      Richard Stockenström - 2013-12-11 19:39

      Ah. Thank you Craig. :)

      Anele Bungane - 2013-12-12 07:27

      Richard, if seeking equality and economic justice for my people is stupid, then I am guilty as charged. I will not keep quiet when my people remain landless, impoverished, unemployed and play no meaningful role in the economy of this country. Africans remain the poorest group in this country with no access to good education, land, health and economic opportunities. Whites still own everything just like under apartheid and they expect the whole of the population to be happy with that. The land that was stolen under the 1913 Land Act and the Native Land Act must be returned, we cannot pretend as if that never happened.

      Leigh-Rose Jenkins - 2013-12-12 08:18

      Anele, how are you solving any problems by replacing one uneducated criminal with another? How can you not see that malema will lead this country straight into civil war? Achieving an outcome far worse than what we are currently seeing in Zimbabwe? When are people going to start realising the the fallacy that is "economic freedom" will only ever come close to achieving through EDUCATION and that's something that will never happen overnight? Why Anele, so many years after Apartheid are so many of the "born frees" still incapable of making anything of themselves? Because over and over again they are being made promises that can never be kept. So instead of working hard, trying hard to make a difference, a culture of "you promised this to me so I'm going to sit on my backside and wait for you to give it me" has been bred... No uneducated president who constantly promises the world for nothing will ever be able to achieve that. And if you can't see that, then there really is no hope. We need a president (any president) who has a sound understanding of running a countries economy and who can deliver on the things NEEDED to achieve a great economy. "Redistribution of wealth" will only result in MORE poverty. Taking land away and giving it to others will only result in MORE poverty, and possibly famine as well. These pie in the sky ideals always look good to those who don't know any better, and it's always going to be those people who suffer the most!

      Richard Stockenström - 2013-12-12 12:37

      Anele, I completely agree that more needs to be done. And I also agree that it will not happen under the current corrupt and selfish "leadership". But please explain how changing your allegiance to an individual cut by the same incompetent, corrupt and thieving die and think that anything will change. What do you think will happen once land taken from those who EARNED and PAID for it and given to the mass of uneducated and unskilled. Do you think those skilled to work the land and make it profitable will stick around to HELP those who steal it from them?

      Richard Stockenström - 2013-12-12 14:17

      Have you seen what this "redistribution" has done to the ruin that was once Zimbabwe? People are starving and DYING, because stealing land "back" from the evil whites was so important. While Mugabe throws lavish parties at his palace and sends his wife to London on a private jet for the weekend to shop. At a cost of MILLIONS, while his people DIE IN THE STREETS.

  • Livhuwani Lybon Tshihatu - 2013-12-11 17:28

    You 'boo' corrupt man like zuma......But cheer for a war criminal like obama....the women and children killed by drones must be rolling over their graves.....This is perplexing

      Jonathan Woods - 2013-12-11 18:28

      The World at this moment is filled with such anomalies. Some see the bigger picture, some can't see further than their own noses! Tis indeed greatly perplexing and very frustrating for those with intelligence!

      Lorna Murdoch-Eaton - 2013-12-11 18:49

      The cheering was also for Mugabe... hasn't anyone noticed how many people have fled Zimbabwe? Would they do that if Mugabe was such a wonderful leader? How many people HE'S had murdered? How he has utterly bankrupted Zimbabwe? ... and still they cheer? Of course we know WHY Mugabe is cheered, the black people of South Africa are happy that Mugabe targets whites, takes their farms, mines and business's. This is what the black people of South Africa want for here too. So why are black South Africans any better than the radical whites who side-lined blacks during the apartheid years? The answer is of course, that they are not. They are more of the same. NONE of this is what Mandela wanted. It is NOT equality. The ANC have diverted too far from it's original ideals and the majority of voters just want to loot the country and forget about tomorrow.

      Richard Stockenström - 2013-12-11 19:09

      Bwahahaha. War criminal. Lol. What a joke.

      Lisa Racquel Telo - 2013-12-11 19:21

      And cheered for Mugabe. Sorry but obamas THE MAN.

      lacrimosewolf - 2013-12-11 21:06

      We're also being killed by drones - Alliance Drones who simply go along with what the rigged caucuses decide. Drones who have jobs and cars and housing and travel and pop up every now and again with some inane statement which usually starts with "there is no crisis". Because having won our freedom, we have lost all our courage and now will forever be voting drones. Just as the gnats did it - fill people with fear of the phantom alternative and they will tolerate anything, even if they know it is wrong. Fear vs Reason. Create enough Fear and Fear always wins.

      John Bartlett - 2013-12-11 21:19

      You are so stupid, just crawl back into the hole you came out of . War criminal?

      Colin Craig Broadfoot - 2013-12-11 21:26

      In a few days TATA will be turning in his grave. Look what ZUMA has done to this country.

      Colin Craig Broadfoot - 2013-12-11 21:28

      They cheered MAD BOB, just shows the mentality of the MAJORITY of this EX- beautiful country.

      Thami Shongwe - 2013-12-12 12:24

      Obama is war criminal, period. The sooner you ppl realize the better it will be for africa. The sole reason there is a balck american president right now is so that we africans will be blinded by that and embrace him while they carry on their mission to get rid of the chines in africa. Do you thing african leaders would have kept quite if it was a white american president who destroyed the only economicaly liberated nation in africa, Libya, i think not. The starndard of living in libya was way better that any werstern country in the world, now they indebted to the IMF and the world bank like the rest of us. Be careful of AFRICOM.

  • Jay Hull - 2013-12-11 17:34

    The term is " rolling in their graves " and you can't compare that usurper, thief, criminal and liar Zuma to Obama.

      Richard Stockenström - 2013-12-11 19:11

      I think we should change it to LOLing in their graves after his comment.

      John Smith - 2013-12-11 22:14

      from Farlex free dictionary :- " turn in your grave (British, American & Australian) also turn over/spin in your grave (American) if you say that a dead person would turn in their grave, you mean that they would be very angry or upset about something if they knew She'd turn in her grave if she knew what he was spending his inheritance on. "

  • Lulama PhindileLukhangele Mqadi Mahola - 2013-12-11 17:51

    That was the platform for collective South Africans to show the world that we not happy in SA, (Nkandla, e-tolls, Gupta, etc) and Zuma doesn't care about our views and feelings.

      foxiloxi - 2013-12-11 18:06

      What concerns me is the whole of the ANC does not care about our views and feelings!

  • Mputane Ramothwala - 2013-12-11 18:06

    Correction: He won it from six of the nine provinces. Gauteng, Western cape and Limpopo nominated Motlhanthe.

  • Mfelasakhe Mahlangu - 2013-12-11 18:09

    Interesting observation. Gauteng has never been a stronghold of the ANC relative to the other 6 or 7 provinces.

      Kevern Upton - 2013-12-11 18:21

      Great, maybe it can become a stronghold for a different political party at provincial level, who do you think that could be?

  • Kevern Upton - 2013-12-11 18:27

    Of course he will, it's always tough to flush a floater.

  • Mamoraka Albert - 2013-12-11 18:28

    Truly & honestly speaking dat was de wrong tym 2 boo Zuma cz thr was no derby there.The issues of Nkandla,Gupta,E-toll & Arms deal had no room within Mandela's memorial service

      Axola Qongqo - 2013-12-11 18:52

      I strongly agree with u it was the wrong time but a perfect opportunity,I believe south African citizens should utilize each and every platform the get go express n show their opions about Jacob zuma n let us not forget Mandela is a freedom fighter n he's legacy lives on,,if he's people found it suitable to express their views on the current president at he's memorial service the let it be,,because even if he's not with us today but the stuggle continues under his leadership

      Babs Putar - 2013-12-20 15:09

      It was the right time to 'boo' as Mandela was a person who spoke out against corruption. If integrity and pride is lacking in a leader why shouldn't he be booed doesn't matter where or when. When crowds were paid to boo Helen Zille at Saldanha, and Mbeki, Zuma just stood and watched. He forgot or doesn't know the old saying 'what goes around, comes around' and I think there is more flack coming his way.

  • Sikelela Cibane - 2013-12-11 18:32

    There is danger hanging over the current the space

  • Hlabiwa Letlhaka - 2013-12-11 18:42

    Eish...Zuma that and this.Boo is a boo bt it doesnt mean gore it was ANC members,EFF or DA.For wearing ANC-T SHIRT is not membership ANC events u will never boo our President bcs u can jump out o yr skin sir,last thing is,it was a program for Goverment and Comrade President will never dtermine who must seat next to Him...Media U R VERY DNGRUS,ANC is having its own internal prosdur...nometa U booed my Pres or NOT.

      larry.simon.7 - 2013-12-11 19:09

      What are you on about???

      Wisani Baloyi - 2013-12-11 19:14

      infact what happened is it the media who booied who or is it sum of the crowd?

      Eugéne Nel - 2013-12-12 17:31

      This is why we should definitely look for another party and president to lead this country... Proper education seems needed more and more. This is the third comment I have tried to read so far where you can't make out a thing, and as far as I remember from school, is that English was compulsory for all students. If you failed a language, you failed the year.

  • Eleanor von Korff - 2013-12-11 18:53

    Why do they have to make a memorial about politics all the time?? ITS NOT!! Leave the politics for your rallies. Can they show any respect??

      Eugéne Nel - 2013-12-12 17:38

      I think it is time that you realize something. This country was won by the ANC through exactly this behavior and worse. The generation created by that would obviously only know this one thing to get what they want. Back in the day, Stalin eradicated the majority of the revolution babies by sending them all into battle, one with a loaded gun, and the next with a magazine. Unfortunately that is not an option for humane people, but if the educational structure was correctly established soon, you might have been able to avoid the uncivilized generation that is surfacing today. The kids grew up to do what their parents did. You can't blame them, you need to blame the government for not preventing this.

  • bronwyn.yarr - 2013-12-11 19:16

    Richard they say $21 million (dollars)

  • Cassandra Solomons - 2013-12-11 19:18

    Thick skin and a thicker skull...

  • Khuliso Mutsha - 2013-12-11 19:55

    Zuma does well when he is under attack, he is the champion, like Chuck Norris, infact ANC members needed that provocation to regroup and go defend the Congress of the People, for ANC this will be about the organisation and not necessarily Zuma. Political analysts can celebrate that events on yesterday, but in reality that will make ANC to become even more aggresive in its campaign from next week, i am sure that such hologanism was pre-planned.

  • Frans Frederik Fourie - 2013-12-11 19:56

    Imagen if we could vote for a person instead of a party, like in America. We remember Mandela, the man and not the ANC

      Eugéne Nel - 2013-12-12 17:53

      They don't vote for the person. They vote the same as us for a party. The thing is just that they only have two parties. The Democrats, and the Republicans. In South Africa on the other hand you have a much more complicated system to adhere to. Remember that we are an extremely diverse population, and that every religion, race and culture would have their own point of view. What is actually suppose to happen in this country is that the big parties like the ANC and the DA should dissolve into smaller parties to better represent the diversity of this country. Each person is suppose to vote for the party that best represents their ideals and views, and seats in parliament is suppose to be divided between these parties in representation of the people. Currently this is not happening, and people vote to have an anti-white party in power or a pro-white party in power. I don't blame the public for voting like this though. I blame these two multi-party entities for spreading their propaganda to have exactly that, and in the process have a very small percentage of the people of South Africa represented in parliament.

  • ravikesh.kalicharran - 2013-12-11 19:59

    Long Live Zuma Long Live

      verity.fourie.1 - 2013-12-11 20:43

      Spoken like a true die hard. Zuma will steal the little you have and you will STILL bend over for some more . Stupidity knows no limit and You are the product of a plan to keep the masses stupid and needy enough to keep those greedy hogs in power. Long live Zuma!? The joke is on you but you are too dim to see it. Bravo.

      verity.fourie.1 - 2013-12-11 20:43

      Spoken like a true die hard. Zuma will steal the little you have and you will STILL bend over for some more . Stupidity knows no limit and You are the product of a plan to keep the masses stupid and needy enough to keep those greedy hogs in power. Long live Zuma!? The joke is on you but you are too dim to see it. Bravo.

      verity.fourie.1 - 2013-12-11 20:43

      Spoken like a true die hard. Zuma will steal the little you have and you will STILL bend over for some more . Stupidity knows no limit and You are the product of a plan to keep the masses stupid and needy enough to keep those greedy hogs in power. Long live Zuma!? The joke is on you but you are too dim to see it. Bravo.

  • Mosa Sasa Pakade - 2013-12-11 20:12

    a RENTED CROWD, won't determine choice of a leader! President Jacob Zuma will lead until we members and friends of the ANC decides otherwise!

  • Drexlar Mutant - 2013-12-11 20:17

    It's beyond me, how people of the Eastern Cape still supports this pathethic excuse of a head. EC is the poorest, they still have mud schools, low literacy levels, high unemployment, poor healthcare services, bucket system in urban areas wtf! And these people still chant slogans cheering this looser!

      verity.fourie.1 - 2013-12-11 20:56

      It is a sin that they take advantage of ignorant illiterates. They keep them needy and stupid so that the fat cats will remain in power. After 20 years there is NO excuse for the EC state. It is a shame.

      Eugéne Nel - 2013-12-12 17:59

      Do you really think that the ANC would have been in power for 20 years if the majority of the population was schooled and intelligent? No sir, they would not. Remember that the uneducated are ussually your most gullible as well.

  • Jan Claasen - 2013-12-11 20:35

    It's not about rational decision making. Its about sending a message

  • Andy Mathabela - 2013-12-11 20:50

    too bad mr president coud'nt arrest about 80000 people booing at him' may next time

      Marina Dc - 2013-12-12 11:20

      Well said Andy! He only had power because the people gave it to him. They are recalling it loud and clear. That is why that little guy could not sign properly he was trying to get the booes in, 80 000 of them. By the time he was finished it was over! Let the booes rain but to anyone that is untruthful. South Africans are really one of the most stubborn nations! Mandiba Spirit I say!

      Sandile Khubisa - 2013-12-15 19:12

      80 000 people? Wow... Pity d stadium was half full meaning there might have bn around 40 000 people at d stadium nd a minority of less dan a thousand did d jeering. Fact is Zuma is very popular within d ANC nd generally d ANC has grown under him with over a million registered members. In d run up to its 53rd Congress, he was consistently jeered by a minority normally at memorial lectures for previous presidents of d ANC including at a January 8 statement rally. It wud emerge dat d perpetrators were a minority of proportionately less dan 10 percent of d attendance s was d case on Tuesdae. Underestimate Zuma at ur own expense, d man is popular nd lethal. Watch d space nd await d election results!

  • Sesame Macala - 2013-12-11 20:59

    They are a lost generation who had no respect for Mandela family who lost their father. It was not a rally but amemorial service

      Given Moganedi - 2013-12-12 10:01

      People were reminded of what Madiba stood for and Zuma is the direct opposite of that. This explains why it happened at the memorial service I believe. The man is stealing from the people he promised to lead as his own. All he cares about is himself and his own! He deserves this and more! If he respected the magnitude of the event himself,he wouldn't even have dared to stand there and open his mouth because he resembles and symbolizes nothing that Madiba stood for; Cynism as Obama would call it!

      Sandile Khubisa - 2013-12-15 18:59

      It was not even a thousand people out of the 40 000 at Soccer City dat jeered s president. Even in d run up to Mangaung 53rd National Congress, he was continuously booed by d Malema's New Tendency.

  • RhysandEllenor Harris - 2013-12-11 21:24

    Our nation just told the World what we think of our President!! And we said it Loud and Clear! He is a joke, he couldn't even pronounce words properly. He stood and read his speech from tatty paper and looked so unprepared. How embarrassing!!

  • Colin Craig Broadfoot - 2013-12-11 21:24

    I do not respect any blatant criminal. Stand down and stop embarrassing this country and the ZUMA tribe. And pay back all the tax you stole.

  • Mthokozisi Mabuza - 2013-12-11 22:15

    i think it time for zuma to resign becous ppl did shw hm tht we dnt need hm anymre

  • Winifred Watson - 2013-12-12 08:00

    I dont believe a bunch of thieves working in unison with the Master will want to be rid of the Master. They know if Zuma goes, they go with him as they all have enjoyed the spoils while Zuma looked on a nodded so long as they allowed him to do and take what he wants they can help themselves. To get rid of them will mean chopping down a mountain and thats not easy. Only at the voting polls can we start to work at the base and hope by 2019 the whole top will collapse that there wont be much at the base to hold them up. We are in a struggle for the next few years be prepared. Their is no decency in the ANC left, and most of the people recognize it.

  • Rynier Keet - 2013-12-12 08:05

    It was not the right place to express feelings for the current president, however he is a disgrace to our country and needs to be replaced asp!!!

      Eugéne Nel - 2013-12-12 18:10

      I agree with you. It was not the right place, but it sure did send the message to Zuma and the ANC.

      Sandile Khubisa - 2013-12-15 19:21

      D truth is Zuma is very popular, especially amongst d rural folk for, d ANC has delivered on its mandated rural development programme. Zuma will get his second term nd d ANC will record n unassailable victory at d polls. M not stating dis out of spite bt its owed to d ANC's track record at fast tracking rural development nd infrastructural development despite d volatile global economic condition. Most of these polls r conducted in d urban areas nd ignores d ppl at ground level whom have bn really affected by d ANC's service.

  • Sonnyboy Mathebula - 2013-12-12 09:25

    >The thing is he dont respect people of SA

  • Ross van der Walt - 2013-12-12 10:02

    Its not just ZUMA that should be booed its the hole ANC one man cannot run that much corruption by himself its all the fat cats in the ANC under him to, The only hope for this country is to use our democracy and choose leaders who can make this country great again. I personally feel that DA has the tools to do so but as I say that's my opinion.

  • Niky Henry - 2013-12-12 19:30

    BETHULIE – A massive outburst of violence is expected all over South Africa after Nelson Mandela's dead. Uhuru, as it is known, is a prophesy that white people will be “swept into the sea”, famously foretold by Siener van Rensburg many, many, many years ago. White people are stocking up on baked beans, bully beef and paraffin. Biltong is being dried, beskuit is being baked. Pumpkins are being taken off the roof and into the basement. Brandy is being rationed, and dogs are being donated to the SPCA.

  • Awsomekid - 2013-12-13 13:49

    If Zuma wins a next term,I'll cut my di....koff.

  • Hendrik Kruger - 2014-04-16 19:05

    They may boo him off stage, but come hell or high water, 7th of May they'll vote for him

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