Mbeki heckled by Zuma fans

Mbeki heckled by Zuma fans

JOHANNESBURG – Supporters of former South African deputy president Jacob Zuma heckled and briefly walked out of a speech by President Thabo Mbeki on Saturday in the latest sign of the rift within the ruling ANC party over Zuma’s sacking last year.

The SABC said a section of the crowd started howling and leaving the stadium in Zuma’s provincial stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal as Mbeki spoke at the re-burial of a veteran nationalist. Zuma intervened to calm the group.”Can you come back please.Sit down.Comrade President is speaking …sit down comrades,” Zuma urged his followers in remarks broadcast on television while Mbeki stood by.The South African leader continued with his speech, said the SABC.The ANC condemned the incident in a statement.Mbeki was heckled in the same province in October when Zuma sympathisers walked out during a rally he held with the visiting Indian Prime Minister.Mbeki fired Zuma over a corruption scandal last year, angering left-wing allies of the ruling party who see the controversial politician as more in touch with ordinary South Africans than the president.Despite his sacking from government, Zuma remains deputy president of the ANC, and is still seen as having a chance to succeed Mbeki in 2009 because of his grassroots popularity.But his critics say Zuma is not a suitable candidate, especially after he was charged with rape late last year and admitted during trial to having unprotected sex with his HIV positive accuser.He was acquitted on those charges in May.Nampa-ReutersZuma intervened to calm the group.”Can you come back please.Sit down.Comrade President is speaking …sit down comrades,” Zuma urged his followers in remarks broadcast on television while Mbeki stood by.The South African leader continued with his speech, said the SABC.The ANC condemned the incident in a statement.Mbeki was heckled in the same province in October when Zuma sympathisers walked out during a rally he held with the visiting Indian Prime Minister.Mbeki fired Zuma over a corruption scandal last year, angering left-wing allies of the ruling party who see the controversial politician as more in touch with ordinary South Africans than the president.Despite his sacking from government, Zuma remains deputy president of the ANC, and is still seen as having a chance to succeed Mbeki in 2009 because of his grassroots popularity.But his critics say Zuma is not a suitable candidate, especially after he was charged with rape late last year and admitted during trial to having unprotected sex with his HIV positive accuser.He was acquitted on those charges in May.Nampa-Reuters

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