President Jacob Zuma walked into an almost empty Orlando Stadium on Thursday, to render his keynote address at Youth Day celebrations, commemorating 35 years since the Soweto uprising of 1976.
Zuma was just over three and a half hours late, as he was expected to deliver his speech at 1pm.
Flanked by bodyguards, police and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, Zuma made his way to the stage, also occupied by Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane, Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau and minister in the presidency, Collins Chabane — who earlier apologised for Zuma being late.
“He was addressing the conference of the youth league. We would like to apologise,” he said. “I would like to thank you for the patience you exercised.”
“Where is he? He is late,” said a woman, earlier, clicking her tongue.
“It’s cold and we must wait. I know he’s a busy man, but these children are waiting for him. It’s not fair.”
“We are tired of sitting here, we are here from the morning,” Freedom Stemela, 15, from Ingqayizivele Secondary School, said.
“I’m more than irritated,” echoed Lucky Maphosa, 19, from Phomolong Secondary School.
“We will wait to hear what he says, but we want him to know we are angry that he’s late.”
Wait for it
In Soweto, Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane and Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau addressed the crowd there.
Mokonyane urged the youth to keep getting an education.
“We must continue as youngsters to attend our schools and, most importantly, take advantage of opportunities that exist today,” she said.
She said morals and values needed to be instilled in the youth of today, to make sure the class of 1976 was appreciated for what it did in the struggle. — Sapa