It was subtle, but clear: if the Ahmed Kathrada memorial services were used to campaign against President Jacob Zuma, the Chris Hani memorial event on Monday was used to do the opposite.
The event was held to mark 24 years since Hani's death, by unveiling a memorial plaque in Ekhurhuleni, near Hani's home where he died.
Zuma's narrative, delivered in his address, was applauded: he and his government are trying to radically transform the economy, but they are being hampered by white monopoly capital and racists.
The anti-Zuma protests that took place last week were often not named specifically, but were alluded to throughout the event, with both Limpho Hani and Zuma taking swipes at them.
The South African Communist Party (SACP), Hani's political home, was awkwardly booed when mentioned early in the event, but the booing was quickly shushed. But tensions between the ANC and its communist alliance partner could no longer be contained by the time the SACP's second deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, attempted to take the podium.
The pro-Zuma sentiment was so strong, even Cosatu's president, S'Dumo Dlamini was caught singing a Zuma praise song just days after the federation called on the president to resign.
— Peter Ndoro (@peterndoro) April 10, 2017
The event kicked off with a prayer by Reverend Joseph Maphatsoe.
"Our prayer is not 'save South africa', it's defend 'South Africa'," he said, taking a swipe at civil organisation Save SA, which hosted one of the protests against .
Hani's widow, Limpho, was next at the podium, and devoted a large chunk of her speech to defending herself against claims that she was part of an anti-Zuma campaign. Hani said she had been painted this way in the media because she attended a prayer service on April 5, organised to pray for South Africa.
"We are living in a time of extreme paranoia and factionalism. I went to the prayer service on April 5 to pray for our country. I was later informed I was in the faction that was against Zuma," she said.
"I do not belong to a faction. I'm a member of the ANC and there's only one ANC. I refuse to play into the hands of those who say, 'What would Chris say?' What I know is, Chris was a loyal and disciplined cadre."
Hani lambasted "civil society" for not marching against rape or unfair working conditions, taking another swipe at the anti-Zuma marches.
She then thanked Zuma for his support while her daughter battled drugs, and said he was like a father to her throughout all these years.
Zuma took to the podium, calling for radical socio-economic transformation. He said it was important to have more black industrialists, farmers, and professionals. Zuma then moved on to the marches, which he said were racist.
"In his [Hani] memory we must fight racism wherever it rears its ugly head ... there is a resurgence of racism in our country. It is also clear that racists have become more emboldened. The marches that took place last week demonstrated that racism is real and exists in our country.
Many placards and posters displayed beliefs that we thought had been buried in 1994, with some posters depicting black people as baboons. It is clear that some white people regard black people as sub-human," he said, to applause.
Zuma left the podium as the crowd sang songs praising him. Mapaila was booed, but not before heavy rainfall prevented him from speaking, and ended the event.Suggest a correction