Bloemfontein – Cosatu was forced to abort its main May Day rally in Bloemfontein on Monday after President Jacob Zuma was prevented from delivering the keynote address.
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The unrelenting crowd sang anti-Zuma songs, which escalated when the president arrived at Loch Logan Park.
A scuffle also broke out between Zuma supporters and those against him, with some Cosatu members carrying knobkerries and sjamboks, calling on him to go.
In an unprecedented move, after several failed attempts by provincial leaders to calm the crowd, Cosatu announced an end to the event with no speeches delivered.
Zuma was expected to share the stage with Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande.
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It was Zuma’s first appearance at a Cosatu event since the ANC-alliance partners called for him to step down. The SACP also called for Zuma to resign, after he reshuffled his Cabinet without consulting the alliance partners.
Zuma was expected to receive a hostile reception after Cosatu’s biggest affiliate, Nehawu, wrote to the federation demanding that they replace him with deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as the main speaker. They said it would be confusing to have Zuma speak after publicly calling for him to step down.
However, Cosatu leaders said it was up to the ANC to decide who it deploys to their nationwide rallies.
During the scuffle and anti-Zuma chants, Zuma sat alongside Dlamini and they periodically chatted.
ANC Free State chairperson Ace Magashule was also seated next to them. At one point, Zuma left the area where the leaders were sitting and went to his car. It appeared he was taking a phone call. He was followed by his bodyguards.