The huge crowd that gathered for Nelson Mandela’s memorial at the FNB Stadium in Soweto booed the South African President, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, every time his head appeared on a large screen at the stadium.
“We have visitors, let’s not embarrass ourselves, behave,” was the response from the ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as he tried to control the crowd.
It was however a different reception for former South African President, Thabo Mbeki who resigned as President to pave way for Jacob Zuma’s power grab in the ANC. The FNB crowd that booed Zuma were earlier singing ANC struggle songs in honour of Nelson Madiba Mandela. Jacob Zuma, who is also the president of the ANC currently for a second term, is due to contest next year’s general election for state president position.
Mandela’s wife Graça Machel, and Madikizela-Mandela both received loud cheers as the service got underway around noon with the singing of the national anthem. Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife bent down to embrace Machel before taking her own seat. They held onto each other for a few moments, both clad in black jackets, dresses and turbans.
Both women were loudly cheered by the crowd. ANC deputy president Ramaphosa began welcoming the arriving heads of state at 11.30am. As he called out their names, the dignitaries walked to the front of the podium to receive what turned out to be mostly applause from the audience.
However, China’s Vice-President Li Yuanchao was booed. Former South African president FW De Klerk and Cuban President Raúl Castro were all warmly cheered.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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