Capetonians praise Obama, boo Zuma

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A man reacts to the words of US President Barack Obama during the national memorial service for late former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg's National Bank Stadium. Picture: Yannis Behrakis

 Cape Town - US President Barack Obama's tribute to former president Nelson Mandela resonated most with Capetonians gathered on the Grand Parade on Tuesday.

People watched in awe as Obama spoke at the official memorial service for Mandela at the FNB Stadium, in Soweto.

The footage was screened live on the Parade, in Darling Street.

“I think Barack Obama really nailed it. He put a lot of thought into it and he's always just such a moving speaker,” said Ryan Robinson.

Claremont resident Ndikho Fani was equally impressed.

“I think he connected with the South Africans in many respects, especially drawing comparisons between the racial struggles in America and South Africa,” he said.

Asked why many on the Parade booed Zuma, Fani said: “I think Zuma has lost touch with the masses and I think his support, in my personal view, is waning.”

Bubele Skweyiya, of Khayelitsha, said he remained a steadfast African National Congress supporter because of his loyalty to Mandela, despite joining in when Zuma was jeered.

“Barack Obama, he killed it, because he is currently my Mandela now that Madiba is gone, while Zuma is doing the complete opposite of what Madiba fought for. That's why I was part and parcel of the people who booed him.”

Alice Parenzee said she did not have a favourite speaker.

“We all feel Madiba's loss and I don't want to compare the tributes,” said the Bellville South resident.

Other Capetonians said that while they did not boo Zuma, as it was inappropriate to do so during Madiba's memorial service, they understood why people reacted the way they did.

“Currently, the Nkandla issue is hanging over him and you could see the public is tired of his mistakes,” said Parklands resident Elijah Ngqondoyi.

China's Vice-President Li Yuanchao and Obama found favour with Tolane Kotsi.

“He (Obama) was reminding us that there was a Madiba in all of us and we need to find that Madiba and go out and prosper,” said Kotsi.

Mandela's contribution to cementing ties with China was also hailed, and Kotsi thought this could bring investment and jobs to South Africa.

“You pay respects to great heroes, but Zuma is sorely lacking in this respect,” Kotsi said of the crowd's response to Zuma's speech.

Charles York, of Kraaifontein, said Obama spoke from the heart and did not read from prepared speech, as Zuma had.

“You can fool people once, you can fool people twice, you can fool some people some of the time, but not all of the time,” he said.

Shortly before Zuma started speaking, half the crowd left after spending hours in the searing heat. - Sapa

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