Zuma booed, humiliated at Mandela memorial

Thousands of South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
Thousands of South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
Thousands of South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
Thousands of South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
Former South African president FW de Klerk walks away with wife Elita after paying respects to Nelson Mandela.
Former South African president FW de Klerk walks away with wife Elita after paying respects to Nelson Mandela.
South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
South Africans wait in line to pay respects to Nelson Mandela's body in Pretoria.
SOMBRE ARRIVAL: Personnel carry the coffin on Nelson Mandela into Union Buildings, Pretoria.
SOMBRE ARRIVAL: Personnel carry the coffin on Nelson Mandela into Union Buildings, Pretoria.
A flame burns near a portrait of Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu.
A flame burns near a portrait of Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu.
Attendees sing and dance at Nelson Mandela's memorial.
Attendees sing and dance at Nelson Mandela's memorial.
J. Nico Scholten, from Amsterdam, holds up a photo of his meeting with Nelson Mandela.
J. Nico Scholten, from Amsterdam, holds up a photo of his meeting with Nelson Mandela.
The crowds gather at Soccer City stadium for Nelson Mandela's memorial.
The crowds gather at Soccer City stadium for Nelson Mandela's memorial.
Elizabeth Alexander was on holiday from Sydney when Mandela died. She walked in the rain to get to the stadium.
Elizabeth Alexander was on holiday from Sydney when Mandela died. She walked in the rain to get to the stadium.
A child draped in a South African flag at Soccer City stadium for Nelson Mandela's memorial.
A child draped in a South African flag at Soccer City stadium for Nelson Mandela's memorial.
US President Barack Obama delivers his eulogy.
US President Barack Obama delivers his eulogy.
Aucklander Ray Vantrhaar was back home in South Africa for the funeral of his father.
Aucklander Ray Vantrhaar was back home in South Africa for the funeral of his father.
An image of Nelson Mandela shows on the big screen as US President Barack Obama speaks.
An image of Nelson Mandela shows on the big screen as US President Barack Obama speaks.
A mourner pumps his fist during the Nelson Mandela memorial in Soweto.
A mourner pumps his fist during the Nelson Mandela memorial in Soweto.
US President Barack Obama greets Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel.
US President Barack Obama greets Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel.
Mourners cover up with umbrellas as US President Barack Obama delivers his eulogy.
Mourners cover up with umbrellas as US President Barack Obama delivers his eulogy.
Under-fire South African President Jacob Zuma was booed and jeered before his speech.
Under-fire South African President Jacob Zuma was booed and jeered before his speech.
LIFE CELEBRATION: Crowds have filled a stadium in Johannesburg to farewell former South African leader Nelson Mandela, who died last week at the age of 95.
LIFE CELEBRATION: Crowds have filled a stadium in Johannesburg to farewell former South African leader Nelson Mandela, who died last week at the age of 95.
LIFE CELEBRATION: Young and old came to pay their respects.
LIFE CELEBRATION: Young and old came to pay their respects.
MEMORIAL PRESENCE: Graca Machel, Mandela's widow, was present at the stadium.
MEMORIAL PRESENCE: Graca Machel, Mandela's widow, was present at the stadium.
LIFE CELEBRATION: Unusual adornments were worn by some.
LIFE CELEBRATION: Unusual adornments were worn by some.
FORMER LEADER: Ex-South African president FW de Klerk takes his seat in the stadium.
FORMER LEADER: Ex-South African president FW de Klerk takes his seat in the stadium.
CURRENT LEADER: South African President Jacob Zuma waves as he arrives at the stadium. He was later booed by the crowd.
CURRENT LEADER: South African President Jacob Zuma waves as he arrives at the stadium. He was later booed by the crowd.
LIFE CELEBRATION: British Prime Minister David Cameron was among world leaders to attend.
LIFE CELEBRATION: British Prime Minister David Cameron was among world leaders to attend.
EX-WIFE: Winnie Mandela, ex-wife of Mandela, is seen in this still image from the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation.
EX-WIFE: Winnie Mandela, ex-wife of Mandela, is seen in this still image from the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation.
LIFE CELEBRATION: A woman in the crowd takes a moment for contemplation.
LIFE CELEBRATION: A woman in the crowd takes a moment for contemplation.
CELEBRATION OF A LIFE: People start singing as they arrive for a mass memorial for Nelson Mandela at First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg.
CELEBRATION OF A LIFE: People start singing as they arrive for a mass memorial for Nelson Mandela at First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg.
CELEBRATION OF A LIFE: US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are escorted off the tarmac as they arrive in South Africa to attend a memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
CELEBRATION OF A LIFE: US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are escorted off the tarmac as they arrive in South Africa to attend a memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
CELEBRATION OF A LIFE: The 95,000-seat stadium will host the main ceremony.
CELEBRATION OF A LIFE: The 95,000-seat stadium will host the main ceremony.
CELEBRATION OF A LIFE: People start singing as they arrive for a mass memorial for Nelson Mandela at First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg.
CELEBRATION OF A LIFE: People start singing as they arrive for a mass memorial for Nelson Mandela at First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg.
CANDLE LIGHT: South Africans have been laying tributes to Mandela since his death this month.
CANDLE LIGHT: South Africans have been laying tributes to Mandela since his death this month.
STREET SYMPATHY: Mourners react with song and dance on the street in Soweto where Mandela once lived.
STREET SYMPATHY: Mourners react with song and dance on the street in Soweto where Mandela once lived.
MEMORIAL SERVICE: Former Archbishop of Cape Town and veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Desmond Tutu held a mass at Cape Town's Anglican St George's Cathedral for Mandela.
MEMORIAL SERVICE: Former Archbishop of Cape Town and veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Desmond Tutu held a mass at Cape Town's Anglican St George's Cathedral for Mandela.
BIG BANNER: In France, a huge banner featuring Mandela's face was hung from the foreign affairs ministry.
BIG BANNER: In France, a huge banner featuring Mandela's face was hung from the foreign affairs ministry.
PARLIAMENT SQUARE: In London, in the shadow of Big Ben, floral tributes were laid at the base of Mandela's statue.
PARLIAMENT SQUARE: In London, in the shadow of Big Ben, floral tributes were laid at the base of Mandela's statue.
YOUNG TRIBUTES: A prayer ceremony was held at a school in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad.
YOUNG TRIBUTES: A prayer ceremony was held at a school in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad.

South African President Jacob Zuma was booed and jeered at a memorial to anti-apartheid legend Nelson Mandela today, a major public humiliation in front of other world leaders six months before national elections.

The hostile reaction from the thousands-strong unruly crowd erupted as Zuma prepared to address the high-profile ceremony in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium bringing together leaders from around 90 countries.

Zuma, who has ruled Africa's biggest economy since 2009, had been hoping to get a boost from the wave of national emotion triggered by Mandela's death on Thursday, aged 95.

His African National Congress (ANC) government has been facing violent labour unrest and protests over persisting poverty, crime and unemployment. But the ANC is still expected to comfortably win the elections to be held in April or May.

Zuma was booed when he first entered the crowded stadium, and again when he prepared to speak. In contrast, U.S. President Barack Obama received a roaring ovation, and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon were also cheered.

Some in the crowd accompanied the boos for Zuma with thumbs-down gestures and rotating hand movements, the sign for a substitution in a soccer match.

"Mandela had a vision, Mandela lived that vision. But what Zuma speaks, he doesn't live," said Funeka Gingcara-Sithole, 31, reflecting the mood of the Zuma critics in the stadium.

"He should do the honourable thing and resign," she said.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu called the booing a surprise, but played down the incident as a "little blot".

"It came as a bolt to all of us," he told eNCA television. "We were quite surprised."

Zuma and senior ANC officials remained stony faced during the hostile reaction and organisers at one point used a choir to try to drown it out.

The mourning for Mandela has distracted attention from corruption scandals affecting Zuma and his administration.

But memories of the former president's five-year tenure up to 1999 have reminded many just how distant Zuma's South Africa still is from the "Rainbow Nation" ideal of shared prosperity and social peace that Mandela proclaimed after his 1994 election.

South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies on the planet.

UNDER FIRE: South African President Jacob Zuma was booed and jeered before his speech at the memorial for Nelson Mandela.
UNDER FIRE: South African President Jacob Zuma was booed and jeered before his speech at the memorial for Nelson Mandela.

Reuters