May Day Boos: The booing of President Jacob Zuma by some parts of Cosatu during May Day rally speeches on Monday is hugely significant – according to South Africa’s embattled president.
Regardless of the fact that it was the first time Zuma was booed outside Gauteng and also the first time he was humiliated at an Alliance event, the ANC leader said he’s not worried about the negativities.
He made the statement during a walkabout at the World Economic Forum meeting on Africa in Durban, where he is leading South African delegates at the two-day meeting.
“I’ve been hearing comments all over, but the problem is people don’t understand what democracy is about. You’ll agree with me that in the countries of dictators there are no protests or booing – all these things are part of the culture of democracy.
Unfortunately, people misread this. In a political democracy, people engage heads of state. They criticise heads of state for [their] views because they are expressing themselves freely. Democracy says let these people express themselves. Governments are in place democratically and removed democratically through the vote,” Zuma said.
On Monday, May 1, South Africa’s sitting president was prevented from speaking at a public rally in Bloemfontein, Free State – for the first time since 1994.
This led to scuffles between Mr Zuma’s supporters and opponents and subsequently resulted to all speeches being cancelled.
Cosatu workers demanded his immediate resignation and their call has everything to do with his dismissal of widely respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
While the scuffle broke out, Zuma was spotted on live television hastily leaving the stage and being whisked away in a motorcade.
May Day rally boo against Zuma is the third of its kind. The first was during the Nelson Mandela memorial service in 2013, and then again, at the same FNB Stadium, during a Bafana Bafana game.
Apparently, he could not have enjoyed the occasions but the head and tail of them all were that they were politically embarrassing. More so, a public booing like the recent strongly points towards discontent among the governed.
Zuma has been painting a picture that suggests that the recent hecklings, protests, booing and criticism against him are all by triggered by racism and sponsored by an alien movement which wants to take over the government.
But all that turned upside down on Monday, as a picture of his critics showed real working-class people saying enough to his scandal-plagued government.
It is safe to say that this year’s May Day rejection clearly shows how deep and wide the relationship gap between Zuma and Cosatu lies.
Recall that the trade union played crucial roles in towering him over to power at Polokwane in 2007. Now that he has apparently and largely – though not totally – lost the support of ordinary/poor workers, the big question remains: which union/alliance would be proud to stick out its neck for the embattled leader?
Most members of the ruling party’s leadership structure recently admitted that the movement that has held power since after the dawn of democracy is swiftly breaking apart right before them.
President Jacob is due to step down as leader of the ANC in December, and as South Africa’s president in 2019.