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Thu Apr 24 11:51:01 SAST 2014

Zille heckled in front of Zuma

QUINTON MTYALA | 01 November, 2013 00:23
Helen Zille. File photo
Image by: Foto24 / Yunus Mohamed / Gallo Images

ANC supporters booed Western Cape Premier Helen Zille in the presence of President Jacob Zuma during the government launch of the Saldanha Bay industrial development zone yesterday.

The ANC had bused its members to the event and they started booing Zille, who was seated on the stage next to Zuma, as she was about to address the event.

The ANC members were clad in yellow ANC T-shirts bearing Zuma's face.

As she was being jeered, Zille looked at Zuma and said: "I warned you that this will be turned into a party political event."

But Zuma sat quietly and did not respond to Zille.

This led to the premier walking out without delivering her speech.

The event was attended by investors, foreign dignitaries and diplomats.

As she marched out, the DA leader told the ANC members that their conduct amounted to a serious abuse of power.

"[This is] a state function, paid for with taxpayers' money. This is serious political abuse of power," said Zille.

ANC provincial chair-man Marius Fransman pleaded with the angry crowd to give Zille a chance to speak, but they continued hurling insults at the DA leader.

Western Cape finance MEC Alan Winde and several local DA officials joined Zille in the walkout.

Outside the marquee, Zille said the disruption was well-planned and coordinated by the ANC.

"People were bused in [from other areas] and [ANC] T-shirts were handed out," Zille said.

She said she had called Zuma on Wednesday night to warn him that the launch would be turned into a party political rally and asked him to intervene.

Zille also questioned why Fransman was the programme director of the event, as the launch had nothing to do with his other job as deputy minister of international relations and co-operation.

The ANC members burst into struggle songs and ululated when Zuma took to the podium.

The president was forced to depart from his written speech from time to time, urging ANC members to be tolerant of other parties.

He lauded the industrial development zone, saying that it would stimulate economic development and help create jobs in the Saldanha area.

"Our objective is to develop the Saldanha Northern Cape linked region in an integrated manner through rail and port expansion as well as back-of-port industrial capacity," he said.

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Thu Apr 24 11:51:01 SAST 2014 ::