Cosatu's May Day rally cancelled after crowd turns on President Zuma

Cosatu's May Day rally cancelled after crowd turns on President Zuma

"Comrades, the event is hereby formally closed, and you are all released," Cosatu's provincial chair in the Free State Manyatso Mahlatse told a May Day rally in Bloemfontein amid cheers from the crowd.


Not a single speech was delivered after workers turned on President Jacob Zuma. 


Two unions affiliated to Cosatu, Nehawu and the Communication Workers Union (CWU), expressed their concern over Zuma giving the main address at the event after the federation called for Zuma to step down.


Some workers however welcomed the beleaguered president's presence.


A group dressed in t-shirts that read "100% Zuma" tried to drown out the boos with pro-Zuma chants.


But President Zuma was seen leaving in his motorcade as those who opposed his presence refused to listen to pleas by Mahlatse for them to quiet down.


Zuma was not the only ANC leader to be rejected by workers today.


On the country's east coast, organisers also pleaded with workers to calm down who initially refused to allow ANC National chair Baleka Mbete address them.


"As much as things may be a mess, we can't be shouting at roof tops. We will lose the elections in 2019 if we continue," Mbete told the rally after eventually being allowed to speak.


The governing party's Secretary General Gwede Mantashe was allowed to address a Cosatu rally in Gauteng with little disruption.


He joined Cosatu's provincial branch in a march to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, where they submitted a memorandum.


Mantashe highlighted the importance of unity in the tripartite alliance saying: "Unity, comrades, is important for the alliance, it's important for the ANC - we are going through a difficult period. Factions are very, very strong.


"When you combine factionalism and corruption, you will have what I call accidental leadership succession," added Mantashe, " the people who become leaders are those who have access to money."


But, when repeatedly asked for his response to the events that unfolded in Bloemfontein, Mantashe had only one thing to say.


"In the event in Johannesburg where I was, we spoke, all of us. It was a good May Day, the turnout was good and the reception was good and the crowd was warm." 


Political analyst professor Somadoda Fikeni says Zuma needs to understand that the tripartite alliance is no longer behind him. 


"In a normal situation this would warrant a reflection on his part to say do 'I want to save myself no matter what, or do I want to save the alliance even at my own expense, by making sure at least I attend to the issues that have been raised'," says Fikeni.

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