South African President Jacob Zuma was forced to end his speech halfway on Friday and ran for cover after a heavy storm collapsed the tent where he was addressing a crowd, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.
The Presidency said Zuma was unhurt after the incident, which has left nine people injured including a local mayor and police officials.
The incident happened in the middle of the president’s speech marking the National Day of Reconciliation.
Reconciliation Day aims to promote unity among South Africa’s racial groups following the end of the racial segregation system known as apartheid 22 years ago.
A local television station showed people running for safety as the tent blew up.
Zuma’s bodyguards quickly whisked him away the scene in the country’s northwest province where the commemorations took place.
During his address, Zuma urged South Africans to remember that reconciliation was a two way process.
“While black people are implored to bury the pain of the past and move on, white compatriots should also be ready to accept and support the imperative of transformation and redress,’’ he said.
Zuma said his government has implemented several measures to de-racialize the country’s economy that is mainly controlled by white South Africans.
He said some of the policies implemented included black economic empowerment, affirmative action and land reform that remained critical for the country to achieve true and meaningful reconciliation.
The South African leader acknowledged that reconciliation was not an easy journey and urged his countrymen to recommit towards working together towards healing.
‘‘Let us bury racism, tribalism, xenophobia and all other intolerances. These tendencies rear their ugly heads from time to time,’’ he said.
He also urged South Africans to support each other in building a united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous country. ‘‘Let us work hard for national unity, nation building and reconciliation’’ he said.