President Jacob Zuma was forced to humiliatingly retreat from the main Workers’ Day rally in Bloemfontein where he was expected to share the stage with SACP Secretary-General Blade Nzimande and Cosatu President Sdumo Dlamini.
Before he could even address the crowd, Zuma was given a cold reception by May Day marchers.
Members of the South African Democratic Teachers Union and Nehawu would not let Zuma speak as they consistently booed him. Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini who is understood to have pushed for Zuma to speak and ANC NEC member Naledi Pandor were also booed at the rally.
The rally has turned aggressive with altercations occurring between pro and anti-Zuma factions.
Premier of the Free State Ace Magashule said it was a matter of ill discipline among cadres who had gathered at the rally. Cosatu had earlier appeared to ignore two letters from its affiliate organisations NEHAWU and Communication Workers Union (CWU) which had called for Zuma to not speak at the rally.
The letters indicated that this would be confusing to its members who had all fallen in line with the organisation’s call for the ANC president to resign.
“In this context NEHAWU believes that inviting the president of the ANC to address any of our coming May day rallies particularly the main rally in Bloemfontein will create conflicting messages to our members, workers and the public in general. This possible confusion will intensify the existing instability within the movement and present a potential to further weaken Cosatu,” the letter read.
Cosatu issued a statement on Sunday stating it was pertinent for the alliance to resolve their issues amicably and in a mature way.
“We should be wary of dismissing or throwing away an entire party or alliance as rotten on the grounds of one component we don’t like.”