Members of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) – the governing party’s highest decision-making body – had mixed reactions following the booing of President Jacob Zuma when he arrived for the party’s 106 birthday celebrations at the Buffalo City Stadium in East London on Saturday.
Thousands of ANC supporters booed Zuma as he made his way to the stage as images of him appeared on big screens around the stadium. The booing continued when ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe welcomed him to the event.
Even ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa intervened in the booing, saying “today [Saturday] it’s a day of happiness, it’s a day of rejoicing, and not a day of doing other things.”
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Speaking to EWN on Saturday, NEC members said there was nothing worth discussing at length relating to the jeers, which has been interpreted by many political analysts as sign of Zuma’s waning support within the ANC.
Outspoken NEC member Bheki Cele underscored that it was not the first time Zuma had been heckled in public.
“At Nelson Mandela’s funeral it happened but that time it came from nowhere, this time you might suspect that it would happen,” Cele said.
Former presidential candidate and NEC member Lindiwe Sisulu said the culture of intolerance in the ANC had to be dealt with, saying the booing “was unfortunate and we need to change.”
Meanwhile, NEC member and former ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize said the booing “will happen every now and then but we won’t take it seriously.”
– Additional reporting African News Agency