Protestors in South Africa, thought to be affiliated with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, dumped raw sewage at the Cape Town International Airport on Tuesday. President Barack Obama is due to arrive in South Africa on Friday and will speak in Cape Town on Sunday. The protest was linked to a series of ongoing demonstration in the so-called “toilet wars” over sanitation policy in the city. It was not aimed at Obama, but took place against a backdrop of demonstrations and internal battles surrounding Obama’s visit.
Local news sources report that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), which is technically a governing partner with the ANC, plans to “disrupt” Obama’s visit to the country by staging demonstrations involving thousands of protestors. Cosatu specifically objects to Obama’s foreign policy, which it describes as imperialist and militaristic. Local Muslim groups are joining the protest, too, with the local Muslim Lawyers Association calling on the government to arrest President Obama on his arrival for war crimes.
Several left-wing academics are vowing to boycott Obama’s a ceremony at the University of Johannesburg in which Obama is to receive an honorary doctorate. The centrist Democratic Alliance, meanwhile, has come under fire for attempting to bestow an award on the President and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Obama’s visit has also affected growing debates around the country’s ailing former president, Nelson Mandela, who is said to be on life support. Mandela’s relatives are engaged in a very public round of infighting over where he should be buried when he dies. There is some speculation that Mandela is being kept on life support until Obama’s visit, though the two are not scheduled to meet. NBC, citing one of Mandela’s daughters, reported Tuesday that Mandela had opened his eyes and smiled when being told of Obama’s imminent arrival in the country, but that report was not confirmed by other sources.