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Xenophobia: Crowd booed South Africa’s President Ramaphosa at Mugabe’s funeral service

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was booed by the crowd in the stadium after a wave of deadly riots and xenophobic attacks in South Africa earlier this month that triggered international anger. The attacks mainly targeted shops owned by African migrants.

South Africa, Ramaphosa, Xenophobia
The crowd was concentrated on one side of the stadium, leaving the other side almost empty. PHOTO: Reuters

The master of ceremony was forced to appeal to the crowd to give Ramaphosa a chance to speak.

“I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regret and to apologize for what has happened in our country,” Ramaphosa said, to cheers from the crowd.

Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta called Mugabe an intellectual giant, “a visionary leader and a relentless champion of African dignity.”

Other heads of state who attended Saturday’s funeral included long-ruling leaders from Equatorial Guinea and Congo while China, Russia and Cuba, which supported Zimbabwe’s liberation movements that fought white minority rule, were represented by officials.

Prominent officials from Western countries, which were critical of Mugabe’s rule, did not feature in the official funeral program.

Mnangagwa led heads of state in viewing Mugabe’s body, which was followed by a military 21-gun salute to honour Mugabe.

Banners at the stadium where Mugabe’s body lay in the state read “Hamba kahle, Gushungo,” (go well, Gushungo)”, a reference to his clan name, and “Go well our revolutionary icon”.

Cleo Mapuranga, a caterer, told Reuters that Mugabe fought to give land and economic freedom to blacks and provided non-racial education.

“Now, people are suffering. No one is controlling the prices in the shops. Our finance minister is trying to implement first-world policies which don’t work in third-world countries.”

Mugabe’s death has made some Zimbabweans question what Mnangagwa has achieved in his two years in power.

His government has taken steps to cut the budget deficit, remove subsidies on fuel and power and repeal laws curbing public and media freedoms, but those reforms and austerity measures have compounded ordinary people’s hardships.

Vanguard.

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