News / Africa

South Africa’s President Expresses Confidence Amid Setbacks

South African president Jacob Zuma, in front of a portrait of former African National Congress president Oliver Tambo, addresses foreign correspondents at a breakfast in Johannesburg, Oct. 29, 2012.
South African president Jacob Zuma, in front of a portrait of former African National Congress president Oliver Tambo, addresses foreign correspondents at a breakfast in Johannesburg, Oct. 29, 2012.
Anita Powell
South Africa’s president says the nation is doing well despite having one of the world’s largest income gaps and after suffering a series of violent, illegal strikes. Jacob Zuma says positive developments are slowly improving the plight of millions of impoverished South Africans and says he is optimistic about the nation’s future.  

Zuma emanated confidence Monday as he spoke of his nation’s progress despite major setbacks -- including months of violent, illegal strikes.

A major ruling party conference takes place later this year, and Zuma is busy campaigning to hold on to his seat. Whoever is chosen in December to lead the African National Congress will be heir apparent to the presidency in the 2014 election.

Zuma touted developments almost across the board.  

“Over the past 18 years, we have consolidated democracy and have built strong state institutions in the executive, judiciary and the legislature to take forward the transformation," Zuma said. "We have extended water, electricity, sanitation, roads, health care and other services to millions who did not have access to these services before.”  

He also touted what is one of the bigger successes of his presidency: his administration’s broad and far-reaching campaign against HIV. That science-based policy is a complete reversal of former President Thabo Mbeki's approach. A health minister under Mbeki advocated that AIDS patients take garlic and beetroot instead of antiretroviral drugs.

But Zuma lamented the recent violent strikes as a major setback. In August, miners at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana launched a wildcat strike that left at least 46 people dead. In the main incident of violence, police shot dead 34 protesting miners. Police say they fired in self-defense.  Zuma has ordered an investigation.

The events scared investors after mining companies lost millions of dollars.

President Zuma said the events were a shock, but will not shake the nation’s foundation.

“South Africa is not at a tipping point. I think that’s a total misunderstanding of where South Africa is. I think South Africa is on the move, moving forward," Zuma said. "We have had particularly the mishap of Marikana. Marikana has been a mishap and everybody has accepted that reality. It was a shock, it was a surprise to everyone, we did not expect that to happen.”

Zuma also believes his own tenure is not at a tipping point, despite a hefty share of personal and political setbacks and increasing political competition.

In previous years he has been tried, separately, for rape and corruption. He was acquitted of rape and the corruption charges were dropped.

But the shadow of corruption allegations has never really faded. Local media have reported a recent dustup over his alleged plan to use $24 million (250 million rand) in taxpayer funds to upgrade his rural mansion. He could face an official investigation into the affair.

He has also been plagued by highly publicized legal battles over artistic satire using his image to convey messages about government corruption, leading to questions about freedom of expression under his ANC leadership.

As of Monday, the president formally dropped a $600,000 (5-million rand) lawsuit against a political cartoonist known as Zapiro for a 2008 cartoon depicting Zuma preparing to rape Lady Justice.

Cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro responded to the case’s end with -- naturally -- a cartoon. The caption reads, “Are we done here?”

That’s a question many of Zuma’s critics are also surely asking as the ANC political conference looms.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs