Warren Mabona
1 minute read
19 Apr 2014
6:00 am

Zuma turns jeers to cheers

Warren Mabona

President Jacob Zuma left Johannesburg's Ellis Park Stadium with cheers ringing in his ears yesterday.

Revellers dance during a Universal Church Easter service, 18 April 2014, at Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg. The event filled the stadium to capacity and had an address by president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Alaister Russell

This was a stark contrast to Zuma’s visit to Malamulele Stadium in Thohoyandou, Limpopo, on Wednesday, where he left the soccer venue under police escort after he was booed by the crowds.

Malamulele residents embarked on a violent protest last year and demanded their own municipal council.

But yesterday, Zuma was warmly welcomed by the 60 000 congregants of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, who cheered him as he walked onto the pitch.

In his address at the stadium, Zuma said it was important for South Africans to go out in their millions and vote on May 7. He said they would be doing this to celebrate the “hard won right” to choose a government of their choice.

“We urge millions of our people to vote for the party of their choice and to guide their movement as it works to take South Africa forward,” Zuma said.

“Without the support of our people, we cannot build a South Africa of our dreams, which is prosperous, united, non-racial and non-sexist.”

Accompanying Zuma was Gauteng ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile who expressed a readiness to retain his Cabinet position as Minister of Arts and Culture after the general elections.

Mashatile was speaking to The Citizen on the sidelines at the Ellis Park Stadium. He said it was incumbent upon Zuma to decide whether to reappoint him to the same position in the post-election period.

“I enjoy what I am currently doing, but is up to the president to decide,” Mashatile said.

Mashatile did not appear on the ANC’s national candidates list but was nominated by the party in Gauteng to the National Assembly. He vehemently opposed Zuma’s re-election in the build-up to the ANC’s 53rd election conference.