The President of South Africa's ruling African National
Congress (ANC) says strong relations between his country and the United States
would continue to improve significantly, irrespective of who wins the
upcoming U.S. and South Africa elections. Jacob
Zuma, who is making what, is reportedly his first high-profile foreign visit,
met in Washington this week with US President George W. Bush and Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice.
exclusive interview with the Voice of America, Zuma tells reporter Peter
Clottey that there would be no economic policy shift by South Africa.
thought it was important that we see the outgoing (Bush) administration just to
ensure that what we've been doing will certainly continue. Also of course, as
you know, in South Africa, there is going to be a change early next year. So
that is very important, because we have done a lot together. But also to ensure
that there would be a continuity," Zuma pointed out.
He said one objective of his
US trip has been to encourage international private business interest in the
many investment prospects that exist in South Africa.
"We want to engage the
private sector with regards to the opportunities in South Africa and in Africa
in particular, but also to clarify issues with regards to the happenings in
South Africa. So it was important from that point of view," he said.
Zuma said he had fruitful
discussions with US officials on his visit here in Washington.
"I think it has been good,
the reception extremely good. I think we have discussed all these relevant
issues, and we have been looking at what we could do as two countries,
particularly on matters that affect the continent, as well as matters that
affect South Africa in particular. I think it has gone extremely well. The kind
of understanding between the two has been very good as well with regards to
business. I think the interaction was really good," Zuma noted.
He said there is need to
make clear that ANC policies on the economy will continue.
"Certainly, I think, as you
would know of course, we've had slightly different systems. In the United
States the president's campaign has put across what they (the candidates) would
do as presidents as it is happening now. In South Africa, it is the political
parties that put across their policies, and people vote on the basis of the
policies of the parties. The Presidents are given the task to undertake and
implement those policies. In the main, therefore, it might not relay entirely
to an individual person. But the question is: will the individual person be
able to implement the policies?" he asked.
Zuma reiterated that the
economic policies of the ANC would not change, irrespective of who becomes the
leader of the country.
"Of course, we have been
saying to people that with regards to ANC, the ANC would always decide that its
president is a president that would implement its policies. They (ANC) would be
the first to worry if they thought that the person was not going to implement
their polices as the ANC. And we have therefore been saying to people, assuring
them that there is nothing that is going to change," Zuma pointed out.
Meanwhile, Zuma said another purpose of his visit
was to strengthen South Africa's commercial ties with the United States. He
repeated his belief that not enough has been done to encourage investment from
the US, which is seen as one of South Africa's most strategic trading partners.
foreign investors are reportedly worried Zuma may bow to pressure from his
communist and trade union allies to steer South Africa away from former
President Thabo Mbeki's pro-business policies. The fears escalated after COSATU
and the Communist Party unveiled economic polices calling on the government for
more intervention in the economy to combat increasing poverty among South
Africa's large black population.