Free State premier Ace Magashule said the chaos which prevented President Jacob Zuma from speaking at Cosatu’s May Day rally in the Free State was embarrassing.
A crowd of anti-Zuma workers disrupted the event to the point that Cosatu leadership made the decision to end it early on Monday‚ without President Jacob Zuma or any of its leaders delivering speeches. Some workers gathered at Loch Logan Park in Bloemfontein had chanted‚ heckled and shouted “Zuma must go”.
Magashule was adamant earlier in the day that despite opposition from some unions‚ Zuma would speak at the rally. But after the situation became volatile‚ with minor scuffles taking place‚ the event was scuppered.
Magashule‚ speaking live on eNCA afterwards‚ acknowledged that it was “embarrassing” that some sections of the crowd did not allow tripartite alliance leaders to give any speeches.
“Indeed‚ it’s an embarrassment when the leadership is divided at national (level)‚” he said. This indicated that there was widespread division on the ground‚ he said.
Magashule called on national leaders in the alliance to “sit down and stop acting like they are in a theatre”. He was adamant that the disruption was caused by people from outside the province.
Some people interviewed in the crowd suggested that the situation had become volatile due to the “arrogance” of Zuma who ignored calls by some unions not to speak there. Others said they were disappointed that the president was not allowed to speak.
The ANC in the province swiftly launched a counter attack after the disastrous event. Within minutes of Zuma leaving‚ ANC Free State spokesman Thabo Meeko told reporters that disrupters were “bused in”.
“We can tell you the ANC and the workers in the province have a good relationship‚ because they understand the relationship of the alliance‚” he said.
“Our belief is that it can never be workers from our province who have disrupted the rally. The briefing we have is that the majority of them were bused in from Kimberley to deliberately disrupt the rally‚” he continued.