Alliance condemns Mbeki disruption

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Cosatu and other alliance partners in KwaZulu-Natal have apologised to President Thabo Mbeki, ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma and the family of former anti-apartheid activist Moses Mabhida for unruly crowd behaviour at the reburial of Mabhida at the weekend.

Hundreds of people disrupted Mbeki while he was delivering his speech at the reburial ceremony at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg at the weekend.

When Mbeki stood up to speak people started walking out of the stadium while others booed and sang Zuma's signing-off song Awuleth'umshini wam.

Zuma requested the disruptive crowd to show respect to the president, but his pleas appeared to fall on deaf ears.

"Comrades, what are you doing . the president is speaking, can you sit down and listen to him. Can we show respect to the president," Zuma asked.

But people gathered at the gate - where they were reprimanded for leaving by the provincial ANC leadership - responded by starting to sing.

Zet Luzipho, Cosatu's provincial secretary, apologized to Mbeki for the unruly behaviour.

Luzipho said that the alliance believed that Mbeki did not deserve to be treated the way he had been treated at the ceremony.

"We don't believe it was supposed to happen, and at the same time we are not saying we are taking responsibility for what happened. The issue is not about what happened but about why it happened," Luzipho said.

He said the Cosatu leadership would recommend that the ANC set up a task team, which Cosatu would be keen to participate in, to investigate the behaviour of the crowd and to probe the matter further.

Themba Mthembu, SACP provincial secretary, said that Mbeki was the "image of the country and needed to be treated with respect".

Zuma also condemned the crowd's behaviour, saying it was wrong for people to express their political feelings at inappropriate events such as the funeral of a man he personally held in high regard.