ANC divided, accuses members of booing Zuma

Jacob Zuma at Nelson Mandela's memoria service, where he was booed by the crowd. (AFP)

Jacob Zuma at Nelson Mandela's memoria service, where he was booed by the crowd. (AFP)

The ANC will take disciplinary measures against its members who booed President Jacob Zuma during Nelson Mandela's memorial service on Tuesday.

ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Lindiwe Zulu told the Mail & Guardian that the party knows the people who heckled Zuma every time he appeared on screens mounted at FNB stadium and just before he delivered his keynote address.

The disruption has shifted attention to the ANC in Gauteng, with party insiders saying even before the booing happened that there were discussions at higher levels of ANC leadership to disband the provincial leadership. Booing Zuma has reinforced calls for the provincial executive committee (PEC) to be dissolved. Part of the suspicion is that Gauteng ANC members participated in the booing this week, two provincial leaders said.

"I don't know how Gauteng is going to escape this because it's inescapable," said an NEC member who preferred not to be named because they don't have authority to speak to the media.
"The decision in the ANC was that other provinces should not send people to the memorial service because there was a fear of a stampede. Free transport was only provided in Gauteng; we know it's them."

Zulu did not want to discuss who the alleged culprits were or which province they come from because that information was reserved for internal processes of the ANC.

"The fact of the matter is that we know who they are and we'll take the necessary steps," she said. "You have to consider that we're in a mourning period so we'll deal with this at an appropriate time."

Already fractious relationship
A second NEC member who preferred to remain anonymous said the Gauteng leadership has upset the national leadership on several occasions before and that this week's booing could worsen the already fractious relationship with them.

"They made Mandela T-shirts when they launched their volunteer corps instead of making Zuma T-shirts, the president who was addressing them," the NEC member said.

Gauteng ANC is divided into two factions, one that unsuccessfully campaigned for the party's former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe to replace Zuma and a second aligned to Zuma.

A senior Gauteng leader said it would not be surprising if the ANC national leadership decided to dissolve his province's PEC.

"There are things that the Gauteng leadership has done and the people who did this thing [booed] played into the mentality of those things," he said, mentioning one of them as calls for former president Thabo Mbeki to work with the Gauteng leadership to campaign for the 2014 elections.

The leader said, even in the province, there was lobbying for the PEC to be disbanded.

The PEC issued a statement condemning the booing and calling it a "disgrace" to Mandela's legacy. The committee asked the ANC national leadership to investigate the matter.

"Given the nature and stature of the memorial, the truth must come out to dispel rumours and lies being peddled in the public domain," the statement said. "This was a very embarrassing event."

Fingers pointed in different directions
Another Gauteng PEC member said it was improper to suggest that it was his province's members who heckled Zuma.

"That was a state-run function. South Africans from all walks of life will attend," he said. "There is no room for rumour-mongering because that is dangerous."

The PEC member said, because the state provided free transport, anyone could have gone to the stadium with ulterior motives.

ANC fingers are now being pointed in different directions. Some leaders are blaming the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a breakaway party led by former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema. By Thursday, though, a Gauteng PEC member said that "irrefutable evidence showed that those were Numsa [National Union of Metalworkers] members".

The leader said, however, the ANC acknowledged that its own members participated in booing the party's president.

"Obviously mob psychology spreads and [the] politics of ANC Gau­teng got caught up in that," he said.

In justifying the belief that it was Numsa members who started the heckling, the Gauteng leader said it was done because of political differences.

'Those were not Numsa members'
Numsa is one of the trade union federation Cosatu affiliates unhappy with what they say is the ANC's failure to serve and protect the working class.

But Numsa's national treasurer, Mphumzi Maqhungo, denied that his union's members were responsible.

"Those were not Numsa members. As Numsa leadership we've never taken a decision to disrupt president Mandela's memorial service," he said.

"It's frivolous and opportunistic for comrades to spread those lies. We will have to take them on and urge them to produce evidence," Maqhungo said.

He accused some ANC leaders of peddling lies about Numsa to cast doubt on its leaders before they go to next week's special congress.

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge is the Mail & Guardian's political editor. Raised in a rural village, she later studied journalism in a township where she fell in love with the medium of radio. This former radio presenter and producer previously worked as a senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian, and writes on politics, government, and anything that gives the disadvantaged, poor, and the oppressed a voice.
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    Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award.
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