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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid