Anti-Obama protests kick off in Pretoria

US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle look out from the Door of No Return while touring the House of Slaves, or Maison des Esclaves, at Goree Island off the coast of Dakar, Senegal on 27 June 2013. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG – Just hours before US President Barack Obama and his family are due to land in at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, protests against the visit have begun at the Caledonian Sports Field in Pretoria.

According to a statement released by the No You Can’t Obama Campaign (Nobama), the issues being raised include American domestic and foreign policy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, US-Middle East relations, globalisation and global warming. 

On Saturday, the campaign, along with students from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) SRC, South African Students Congress and the Young Communist League will be protesting UJ’s “poor and undemocratic” decision to award Obama an honorary doctorate. 

Obama is expected to address students at the UJ Soweto campus at 3.30pm on Saturday.

Richard Mamabolo is one of the organisers of the Nobama campaign and says they are disappointed by Obama’s failure to act on his promises.

“When he was campaigning to become the president of the US he was saying, ‘Yes we can, yes we can, yes we can’, but we have not seen anything happening.”

South Africa's government has repeatedly said people have a democratic right to protest while US analysts expect Obama to receive a warm welcome regardless of the opposition to the visit.

Obama is on a three-state visit to Africa and will be arriving in South Africa at 8pm on Friday night.

Obama will travel to Tanzania after wrapping up his trip to South Africa on Sunday. 

(Edited by Craig Wynn)