South African President Booed at Mandela Memorial

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Glaser also said there is more opposition to Zuma in the populous Gauteng province, which includes the major cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. A new tolling system on area highways has deepened discontent.

The South African Press Association reported that when Zuma arrived for the Mandela memorial, some people made a rolling hand signal, usually a gesture that political change is wanted. Opposition parties are not expected to dislodge the ANC at the next elections, but they could increase their vote share.

Officials at the Mandela memorial tried to head off the booing, switching off the video screen after crowds jeered whenever Zuma’s face appeared there. There were whistles as he reached the podium to give his keynote speech, and a choir launched into a song, possibly to drown out the heckling.

In contrast, the crowd warmly welcomed F.W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last white president who released Mandela from jail after 27 years and negotiated the white minority out of power; former President Thabo Mbeki, a former rival of Zuma within the ruling party; and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former wife of Zuma who heads the African Union Commission.

U.S. President Barack Obama got the most enthusiastic reception. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe got cheers, too.

Zuma, an anti-apartheid activist, was imprisoned for a decade on Robben Island, the same prison where Mandela was held.

He had legal problems over corruption allegations while serving in government before he became president. He was also acquitted of rape charges in 2006.

(Photo: AP)

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