Johannesburg, December 10, 2013 – South African President Jacob Zuma was jeered by a crowd attending a memorial service for Nelson Mandela Tuesday, as a series of scandals take a toll on his popularity before elections next year.
It was reported that there was a warm welcome for former President Thabo Mbeki as he entered FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg.
However, boos greeted Zuma, 71, with some people in the crowd making rolling hand signals used to signal a substitution at soccer matches.
“Zuma has made too many blunders,” Terror Moloi, 34, a laundry worker from Soweto, who wore a cap bearing the emblem of the ruling African National Congress, said in an interview at the stadium. “He only favours his own friends. He’s not following Mandela’s path. He’s abandoned the values of Mandela.”
As images of Zuma flashed up on the big screens inside the Soweto stadium, there were sustained and repeated jeers from the tens of thousands of onlookers present.
Amid the tuneful celebrations to Mandela’s life, the heckling was jarring.
Mandela died in Johannesburg on December 5 at the age of 95. His memorial service Tuesday has attracted Heads of State from countries the world over.
Zuma won control of the ANC from Mbeki in 2007 and became president of South Africa in 2009 just weeks after prosecutors dropped charges against him for allegedly taking bribes from arms dealers. According to reports in the South African press he fathered a child with a friend’s daughter; and an Indian family listed as his friends secured access to a high-security air force base on April 30 to transport guests to a wedding. Zuma was also acquitted of rape charges in 2006.