'Something in the air' as Zuma's defenders rally
The speakers blared‚ the dancers sang‚ but a live parliamentary broadcast silenced thousands of ANC supporters gathered outside parliament to “defend Jacob Zuma” against the motion of no confidence.
It was street politics at its best as cheers and jeers accompanied parliamentary process beamed onto a huge screen mounted on the back of a truck in Plein Street.
Whereas the sight of ANC speakers prompted warm praise‚ opposition leaders Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema were heckled by the spirited crowd.
Although a small group of ANC supporters broke into intermittent song behind the screen and mounted the stage‚ most eyes stayed glued to the unusual proceedings.
A large group of school pupils wearing Cosas T-shirts joined the gathering late in the afternoon‚ while many curious onlookers mingled with security personnel on the fringes of the gathering.
Several ANC leaders addressed the crowd earlier from the makeshift stage‚ denouncing opposition leaders for “destabilising” South Africa. Members of the crowd cheered their approval.
Supporters in the crowd said they had come out to support both the ANC and Zuma‚ although some said they had simply come out of curiosity: “This is taking long. I don’t know when we will be back home‚” said one visibly tired woman from Langa.
Another onlooker said he felt “something in the air”‚ and hoped members would vote for freedom. “I’m not sure they are courageous enough‚” he added.
Shopkeepers in Plein Street watched from their shop fronts. One had mounted an ANC T-shirt in his display window‚ hoping to draw clients. It appeared to be working. “We’re not expecting trouble‚” he said. “Things are relaxed. Not like the Fees Must Fall (protest).”
At one stage fisticuffs broke out between two members of the crowd‚ but marshals were quick to intervene. It was unclear what the scuffle was about.