Hundreds of supporters of South African President Jacob Zuma have protested in Cape Town against criticisms of him by official opposition leader Helen Zille.

The demonstrators said they would no longer tolerate the Western Cape premier’s “anti-African behaviour”.

The organisers – veterans of the former military wing of the governing African National Congress (ANC) – accused Ms Zille of calling Mr Zuma a womaniser.

The Democratic Alliance leader caused uproar with her recent remarks.

The BBC’s Mohammed Allie in Cape Town says almost 300 protesters turned up for the demonstration.

“ Should Zille not immediately cease her racist tendencies.. the association will not hesitate to implement a militant programme of action ”
Veteran Kebby Maphatsoe

He says there was a militant mood as they gathered at the provincial parliament, warning they had the power to make the province “ungovernable”.

Clad in army fatigues and singing protest songs, they demanded that Ms Zille apologise for her recent statement that Mr Zuma had put his wives at risk of contracting HIV.

Our reporter says they also want Ms Zille to change her all-male provincial cabinet, which has been called racist although it contains a black person and three people from the mixed-race coloured group.

Kebby Maphatsoe, chairman of the Military Veterans Association, had an ominous warning for the Democratic Alliance.

“Should Zille not immediately cease her racist tendencies that bring pain to all military veterans of South Africa… the association will not hesitate to implement a militant programme of action to take back the streets and our communities,” he said.

Ms Zille was not at her office to accept the memorandum as she is part of a national three-day meeting of cabinet ministers and provincial premiers chaired by President Zuma.

She told the state broadcaster on Tuesday that she did not have any problem with Mr Zuma.

“President Zuma and I are political opponents but we are not enemies,” she said.

“Just yesterday President Zuma and I had a long and relaxed and cordial and professional telephone conversation.

“So that’s how it works in a democracy. Sometimes you go head on but that doesn’t take away from the professional, cordial relationship you have.”

Self-proclaimed polygamist Mr Zuma was acquitted of rape in 2006 when he admitted having unprotected sex with his accuser, an HIV-positive family friend.



One Response

  1. South Africa: Big Man on the Crest of the Wave

    My latest contribution to Konkret (June 2009) offers an analysis of the election results in South Africa. The magazine from Hamburg will be on sale tomorrow. Read some excerpts here.

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