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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid