African National Congress Free State chairman and premier of the province Ace Magashule on Monday said the heckling of President Jacob Zuma and subsequent disruptions by the crowd attending a Workers Day rally at Loch Logan in Bloemfontein was well planned to embarrass the head of state.
All speeches were cancelled after Zuma arrived at Loch Logan to a crowd who chanted “Zuma must fall”. Another section of the crowd shouted pro-zuma slogans.
“This was actually planned, staged to embarrass the whole leadership. There are people who have planned it. I’m told by some comrades here that people who are even more vocal and disrupting this [gathering] are not from this province. We have taken our own videos, we will be analysing. Tomorrow we are meeting with the alliance officials,” said Magashule.
“I know this was a national event but I’m just saying people in this province are quite disciplined. This is an embarrassment but we have fought for this freedom. We have fought for the workers’ rights.”
Magashule had a message for leaders in the tripartite alliance incorporating the ANC, SACP and Cosatu: “Those who are stage managing us and going out into the media, as if they don’t have internal debates, we are saying you are causing a mess for this country”.
Magashule was however adamant the “masses” love Zuma.
“The people are still in support of Jacob Zuma. Millions of our people have voted ANC. Go and check where Zuma goes and see how much he is supported. It’s not about Zuma. The enemies of the African National Congress know that you must attack Zuma. They have [previously] attacked Mandela, Mbeki and they attack Zuma. They will still attack any other person who becomes the president of South Africa – to weaken the ANC,” he said.
Zuma was earlier on Monday whisked away by his bodyguards after it was clear many union members would not allow him to speak.
At one stage police had to form a line in front of a barricade erected between the crowd and the marquee where Zuma was seated as people started pushing the steel fence.
Zuma appeared glum as he sat between Congress of South African Trade Unions president Sdumo Dlamini and SA Communist party secretary general Blade Nzimande. The president watched as some altercations between anti-Zuma and pro-Zuma sections of the crowd broke out.
He left shortly afterwards.