President Jacob Zuma interview with South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) at Tuynhuys, Cape Town
7 Jun 2009
Interviewer: Tim Modise
Tim Modise: Good evening and welcome to this special broadcast on SABC 1 and our sister public radio stations. We are with President Jacob Zuma and this is his maiden interview with us. I am Tim Modise and welcome. Welcome, Mr President.
President Jacob Zuma: Thank you very much, Tim.
Tim Modise: And as I was indicating earlier it looks like your speech was well received throughout the country, a lot of goodwill coming your way. How do you feel about that?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, I think we are feeling fine. I think so far it looks like people understood what we are saying. That is very good I think. I think we are dealing with the matters as it were the matters that really relate to people at all levels. So it is good that people are responding the way they are doing.
Tim Modise: Now, the speech that you gave the nation when you spoke before Parliament, what are South Africans telling you? I mean what is it that now as you sit here as President you think are the key challenges we have got to deal with?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, people of course said many things. I met all sectors. I met businesspeople. I met the traditional leaders. I met religious leaders. I met ordinary people. I met trade unions. I met communists. And people, all of them, were saying things that are not very far from [unclear [S1]]. I think there’s goodwill that we need a prosperous South Africa, we need a country that succeeds. They might be saying it in different ways, but there was also a very huge voice coming from the poorest of the poor who are actually feeling the burden of poverty, the burden of challenges, particularly in the rural areas. And some of them you would see as you walk into their houses that if they speak it is not just because they are being critical, it is reality. And of course your statistics as well would be saying there has been a growing economy, this is before the downturn of the financial crisis globally, in South Africa for a long period, but also there was deepening poverty. This was a reality, which to me was a contradiction. The economy’s grows; it ought to benefit the people of the country.
Now what was therefore clear to me was we need to do something to address that problem. You could not allow the gap to just widen all the time. What can you do to ensure that you close the gap? I think more than many, many other things, which to me became the critical issue. (Because) If that happens you are certainly sitting on a situation that will explode one day. So since people are talking about it and mark you we’re finishing 15 years in democracy and you couldn’t reach 20 years and beyond when people are telling you that whatever we are doing which is you are doing for the good of the country. But it’s not doing any good for the section of the country. So you needed to adjust certain things and do certain things in order to address that issue. You also had to say what is it that we need to do so that we are able to address that particular programme, I mean that particular problem. So in a sense everything coming together it was clear to me what are the things that we need to do.
Fortunately the African National Congress (ANC) had an opportunity in 2007 really to debate these issues at great length. And they were able to identify what was happening and therefore they were able to begin to say what needs to be, leading up to the conference of the ANC wherein they took very clear resolutions, what needs to be done. And as we worked on the manifesto, the manifesto therefore was trying to answer those kinds of challenges that were emerging from the people. And we believe that once we presented the manifesto to the nation, as you know, it was supported overwhelmingly by different organisations and individuals. So clearly what emerged from the people I think we attempted to work out what are the remedies.
Tim Modise: Now it’s a complex process I would like to believe when you put [together] a speech like the one you did earlier this week, so what exactly happened? How did you go about structuring the speech and identifying the key objectives that you thought the nation should focus on?
President Jacob Zuma: Not anything far away from what I have just said, because the issues are very clear and I think it was a question of how do you present this as an intervention in the country to tell the nation what is it that the government is going to do. And this came after a process of appointing the Cabinet and therefore of also establishing certain new kind of structures which also was geared to address the issues. So by the time you came with the speech I think there was a fair knowledge of what was needed. And the government as you know we held three days Lekgotla wherein the issues were put on the table, which was a continuation of what the directors general had been also doing on the basis of what was presented to them as well.
So by the time you came to write the speech you had gone through this, there had been a lot of contribution, testing and checking of the issues and facts, so it was a question of how do you then put this into a speech that says to the nation this is what you are going to do, that there is no issue that is left out unattended to in the speech, but also that there is a balance. This I think was more challenging because as you know we were now doing this not under normal circumstances. We were doing this when the international economic meltdown was with us. It was a question of again re-looking into it, given the challenges now, how far could you go with our programmes. And I think there was a lot of work that went into that from my colleagues as well, and we were able therefore to say certainly these are the things we believe we can do, and I think it was easy therefore to craft that in a statement.
Tim Modise: This is a special broadcast, the interview with President Jacob Zuma. Now you identified the challenges, Mr President, as outlined to you in your interactions with fellow South Africans, but of course government has got to identify its own objectives now. The key issues that you would like your government to focus on for the next five years, what are those particular areas?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, I think we have outlined the areas as well. I think we have put in the main five priorities that we have put, and of course we [have] in the programme of the government, as I outlined it in the statement, ten points. But critical, the issues that emerged out of the interaction that I talked about, there’re issues of education, critically. And this is an issue that we identified as an issue that I think you cannot run away from that, if at all.
If we are to address all the ills that face our country, education is the key. Because if you have not educated your population it means your population is not empowered to participate in the economic activities or in any other activity. And therefore it is important to educate the population. It’s therefore important to invest in education. It’s critical. If you succeed in education you will in fact address other issues which are there, are present, because people are not sufficiently empowered. Any nation that looks forward to development must skill and educates its population. So it’s critical, and that is why when we’re focused on it, it was not just to say we need education to move forward. We even split the ministries so that there is specific focus given on both, but critical at the basic education, because that’s where the formative years are. That’s where you shape a human being.
That’s where you need to put more effort, and that therefore there should be no school that looks different because it is somewhere in the deep rural [areas] than the school in the urban areas. In other words we must be able to have the right teachers with the right attitude, as well as the facilities, and therefore look at education itself. Our education must be relevant to the demands of today. And also to do away with the situation where if a child fails matric he or she’s then rejected, disappears. What you do with such kids. So there’s no kid that disappears. Because some might not be good in a particular line or disciplines, but they may be good on some handwork, on some other training. So that you do not have the kind of citizens that are going to be looked at even if it is not declared, it’s not up to scratch. So everybody, you must do something, in other words anybody must feel confident that even if I couldn’t write an essay but I can really build a house. I think that’s what we’re trying to inculcate and therefore to make our citizens to be able to participate in the economic activities.
Tim Modise: And of course we’ll touch on some of the areas, Mr President, as we continue. But given your passion when you talk about education
President Jacob Zuma: Yes.
Tim Modise: I would like to stay with that for a moment. Now investments in terms of financial resources have been made over the past 15 years. Where did we go wrong actually to your mind? What is it that you as President will do differently that will show us as a nation that things are now going to work differently? You said there are specific non negotiable, would like to see those non negotiable being respected. I don’t know how you’re going to go about that.
President Jacob Zuma: No, we’re certainly going to go about it. Firstly I think we’re going to engage every sector, because I think that understanding must be a national understanding. I don’t think there is anyone who would not want to do the right thing. And therefore there would be discussions with the unions, there would be discussion with the parents, there’ll be discussion with the kids. As I said in my statement I am going to be meeting the principals. To me the principals are very critical. And I’ve argued in different situations that in all efforts that we’ve been doing the meetings really just to show that the size of the department tended to make people concentrate on directors, there were almost regular meetings.
But there were no meetings with the principals and yet that’s where in my view you needed to put more effort. So I’m organising already a meeting to begin to discuss with the principals, because in the first instance if you are put as a manager you’ve got to manage appropriately and therefore a principal must do his or her work. And they want us that before we take action, all of us must understand that in fact we mean business. If you are a principal [and] your school is failing, you can’t stay there, impossible. But you need to talk to the principals to say what the requirements are. I have also said you are going to need some preparations; some training of some sort for the principals so that they know what the kind of job is so that there would be no promotion of people who would not understand what they need to do.
So we must be more professional in what we do. That is going to be important and therefore address the teachers in general as well as the children, as well as the parents. If you must have heard me talking at some point, we said for an example to show the point, if you talk about the governing bodies, me and you who are in the urban areas, we went to school I’m just making myself better because I never went to school, you know? If you said here is the governing body who will understand in Soweto or in KwaMashu what the governing body should do. But a governing body in the school terms, in the rural areas, with parents who never went to school and you leave it as it is; you are not empowering those people, so some of those things are going to be made. You have got schools for an example, we are talking about the digital divide, but if the school kids they have not seen a computer before.
Tim Modise: Sure. Now I would like to stay on with education but there’s another area now that’s facing your government almost immediately, you’ve got to deal with that, and doctors on strike, nurses very unhappy. In your speech Mr President you did say that the public healthcare system is broken. How are you going to fix it? With doctors who are very unhappy and other professionals who are unhappy. What should we do? What’s going to happen?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, health of course is another priority. As I said there were five priorities that we have been talking about, it’s another priority. Certainly you cannot deliver health at the state at which it is. You know the reports for an example that were coming in some hospitals, even Baragwanath Hospital; there were reports in the Eastern Cape that cannot be allowed to continue. Any country that does not attend to health would have been failing to deliver to its people what the citizens need. The fact that the remuneration of the health professionals is as it is, it tells you this is a problem. So these are things that we identified and as I appointed ministers, that’s why I appointed Minister Motsoaledi. Precisely we must deal with this issue. And of course I wouldn’t sit here and get into the details of what is going to be done. He’s very clear, we’ve had discussions.
Tim Modise: But if I may just ask this question, Mr President, you now tell an average South African, for them to know that the health system under President Zuma is improving, what should they see when they get to the hospitals?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, certainly the schools themselves need to be upgraded.
Tim Modise: The hospitals?
President Jacob Zuma: The hospitals.
Tim Modise: Right.
President Jacob Zuma: Why do I say the school the hospitals, they are depressed. We have got to change the attitude of the health workers. We have got to remunerate them properly so that from what they give they are able to receive something. I don’t know why we should have reached a stage where the doctors, who never strike, should reach a stage where they go on strike. Why didn’t we fix the problem? Because people say, yes, there is a problem. And apparently the manner in which things were done or the scaling was done created a problem that there was a delay in addressing the issue. So these are the issues we needed to fix now. Change everything including the attitude.
Tim Modise: Another matter you spoke about it, made some controversial statements in the past, and you were taken to task by other people when you were suggesting what measures the police should take in dealing with crime, and I think you’ve also set a sort of difficult target for the government, you said serious crimes must be reduced by up to 10 percent at least annually. How so? How’s government going to go about?
President Jacob Zuma: No, no, firstly my point has been and it remains we cannot talk about that crime is a problem, for a decade. You’ve got to do something, particularly if you are in government. So the point we are making is that you have got to gear the police in a particular way. One of the things is the remuneration of the police force. It has to be decent if they are to do their work. We need to invest there. Secondly, we have got to make the justice system as a whole to talk to one another, no contradictions. You know, I’ve always given this example of a police officer who came to me here in the Western Cape, when I went to the Cape Flats, who said we arrest criminals who are very dangerous within the community. But the courts release them on bail, and he was saying he had been arresting a criminal three times. He was now looking for him for a fourth time. You can’t fail to rectify that. The question is that means there’s a contradiction. We have got to fix it so that criminals are not released all the time to come back and commit crime and they go back. We have got to deal with this differently, and I’ve been saying you therefore have to make the entire system to talk to one another, to adjust it, to align it.
Tim Modise: Now here’s another gap, leadership. The police are without a commissioner, national commissioner as we speak. The National Prosecuting Authority, no director. How swiftly are you going to make your appointments, where and when?
President Jacob Zuma: But that’s part of the problem. I don’t think it is quite useful to have acting positions all the time. I think those matters are being addressed by the department and I think the minister is working on the issue. And you know that for an example he has appointed with regard to the new unit that is going to the police, he has appointed somebody who is now permanent, not acting. And I’m sure he’s addressing those issues because again you’ve got to address these issues within the law. As you know for an example the minister sorry, not the minister, the commissioner of police, I think the contract ends in June, between June and July. And I’m certain that once it ends there will be a very decisive decision taken with regard with the commissioner. So that is being worked on, that we are not going to have acting people all the time. It doesn’t give a good impression that you are dealing with issues seriously, so that is going to be addressed and the minister is working on it.
Tim Modise: Now in your opening remarks Mr President you alluded to the difficult economic conditions globally. The country as we speak is in recession itself, and the unemployment rate has been high for a very long time. You spoke about the disparities between the impoverished, unemployed South Africans and a few South Africans who’ve been lucky enough to have jobs or have their own businesses. What are the creative ideas coming out of your government at this time that you think will help reduce the levels of unemployment in the country?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, firstly, I think Tim the critical point was that the economic meltdown globally when it happened, because of the financial fiscal discipline we had I think the impact was absorbed by the fact that we ran a system that was quite good, and I think everybody has accepted this. But once it was clear the impact was coming, the partners met, the business, government, social sector as well as the unions. Because you couldn’t tackle this alone, you needed an agreement. How do we deal with this? And the leading question or challenge was a question of jobs. How do we minimise the loss of jobs? Because if we did not say anything, I mean, workers would have just lost the jobs willy-nilly. But we said no, let us discuss. How do you minimise this? Because we must all appreciate that we are getting into this one, so the only structure that creates a favourable situation for this discussion is NEDLAC, and it was discussed. And there are specific agreements that were undertaken which are being implemented which will need more enhancing as you go forward because in no way you could avoid it totally.
But how do you minimise the impact, and what do you do? You needed this coordination, this understanding, so that things that you would be otherwise doing under normal circumstances you might this time say let us do them differently. I think that was a basic thing that we needed to do. Secondly, we looked at our own economy, because besides that the financial system was operating very well, when the crisis came it came at a point when we had very major projects that were undergoing in South Africa, which in a sense helped, that we have got these major projects that were going, it added to the fact of the impact that it was not so severe. Because you are talking about projects that have employed a lot of people as well, so how then do we deal with that and in addition to that we are saying in our programme, the question of the infrastructure in the country, which is a necessity, because our economy has been growing, and therefore the infrastructure has been really under pressure. So there is a decision to deal with the infrastructure. I think there are billions that have been put aside to say let us do infrastructure, rural development, the urban renewal, etcetera. That in itself creates the economic activities that help to sustain the jobs that also would create a possibility of some people who could be losing jobs in other areas, but finding jobs in other areas.
Tim Modise: But what about those particular companies and industries that are under severe pressure that may have to close down and lay people off? Do you think that that warrants some financial intervention on the part of the government through whatever agency? That they will receive such assistance?
President Jacob Zuma: I think we have said with regard to that, once that situation comes we will have to discuss with such companies. As you have seen even in the old Europe and in the United States, once some of their companies were in trouble they had to rescue them. I think it’s a question of us saying at what point and what is the degree of the difficulties and what could be done.
Tim Modise: Mr President, you spoke earlier about the way in which the South African economy was able to absorb the pressures that were flowing from the economic meltdown globally. Some of them include things like inflation targeting, the tight monetary policy of the Reserve Bank, yet Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), allies of the ANC, are saying that they’re not happy with the way the Reserve Bank has played its role and they’ve also indicated they will not support the reappointment if you get to that point of the governor of the Reserve Bank. What’s your view?
President Jacob Zuma: I don’t think we could respond to that question of the governor of the Reserve Bank. That’s a matter we’ll deal with when we get to a particular point. Of course appointments do not please anyone at any given time. They always make others feel the other way and others feel the other way. I think the critical point is we are we able to do the right thing?
Tim Modise: Let me put it differently.
President Jacob Zuma: Yes.
Tim Modise: Are you happy with the way the Reserve Bank is discharging its responsibilities?
President Jacob Zuma: I think so far. Part of the reason I said our financial institutions were an important factor in absorbing the impact, it includes the Reserve Bank, I think in the manner in which it was operating, and I think ever since the crisis I think the Reserve Bank has in fact cut down on the interest rates which have been the problem. I think the people are actually discussing how much it must do it, that’s a debate. You know that it was tightening it before the impact. Once the impact was there it began to loosen it and people feel that, no, it must actually loosen it even more. Those debates, Tim, will never end because, as you know, economists they have got views and views about the same thing.
Tim Modise: And the others are already saying that the government must borrow more which would obviously lead to some inflation.
President Jacob Zuma: That’s the problem, you see?
Tim Modise: What do you think?
President Jacob Zuma: That’s part of the problem. Because people think we must do this and we must do that, particularly when there is a crisis, it gets worse. I think instead of pressurising ourselves we needed to have a possibility to exchange views and really look at what is the best that we need to do for our country.
Tim Modise: Now the leader of the United Democratc Movement (UDM), Bantu Holomisa, was suggesting that you should call an economic indaba for instance, to deal with precisely that.
President Jacob Zuma: Well, I understand Holomisa coming from a different angle, but that’s a politician talking and opposition, who would want to be part of everything, you know? You’ve got to get the votes to take such decisions at times. It doesn’t mean that you may not have an indaba, but does this call for now the national Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA)? As I said the specific sectors that deal with these matters are meeting. The fact that Holomisa is not part of that is a political issue. But it does not remove him. Of course we have a view, he might have a view, and he might want to raise a view.
Tim Modise: There’s a new innovation on the part of your government, even a ministry established for that, rural development. You are from a rural area yourself, Nkandla. We know of so many villages, I could mention a few of them, where people are living under very depressed and depressing conditions. What would you like to see over time when you visit these villages that would tell you that the approach by government of rural development is working? What is it that will change in South Africa?
President Jacob Zuma: Well firstly I think it’s a question of the infrastructure in the rural areas. Infrastructure is not at all user friendly. In other words, you do not have the infrastructure that will create economic activities that will reside within the rural areas, precisely because there isn’t such a possibility. Then people from the rural areas move to the big cities. And you end up with informal settlements, big numbers of unemployment. I think the rural development says create economic activities in the rural areas. In other words make the people in the rural areas begin to be economically active and therefore you must establish things that they must do. Once again you need to look at how they utilise the land itself. It must be in a sense multi-dimensional; they must do a number of things.
We must be able to create activities in the rural areas to create economic activities. We talk for an example about renewing the small towns, make them vibrant, grow them, but also go to the question of the land itself. The agriculture itself needs to focus on rural development. So I would be very keen that when I go to the rural areas I am able to reach my home because the road is tarred. At some point because of the mud you cannot reach it. I am able to cross some rivers that you cannot cross if it is raining, because there is no bridge. And therefore you are able to make the life flow there. Not just life socially in general, but economically. You are able to establish people for an example in the villages; they’ve got no shops, no supermarkets and no malls. If at all they want to use their money they’ve got to use the money first to take a transport here to the nearest towns, instead of walking across and buying and coming back home. Create these kinds of activities because those people do have the money. They in fact flock into the small towns on the weekends to come and buy. Why don’t you take the kind of economic activities nearer where they are? I think that’s what you want to see.
Tim Modise: President Jacob Zuma is tonight fleshing out details of a speech that he gave earlier this week, the maiden State of the Nation Address, outlining his plans for the nation. Now moments ago, Mr President, you spoke about what you would like to see happen in rural areas and so on, but there’s another key issue relating to rural areas as well as agriculture and that is the point of the question of food security. South Africa used to be net producer of food for export, but these days we are importing some of the foods that we consume in this country, and before you respond to my question about the decision to appoint Pieter Mulder of Freedom Front as your Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Why?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, he was appointed firstly from the Freedom Front. One of the points is that we are saying there are issues in our view that this country must look at. That politics and opposition is not about tearing the country apart. It’s about how do we make South Africa work and we have said that we are going to be embracing to get all South Africans together. Historically I’ve always said I would like to see the opposition that is constructive, an opposition that helps us to move forward and but besides that, I think it is important to have all South Africans who could contribute because there are parties that will never have an opportunity for an example of being in government.
They are small, they will remain small and if there is an opportunity that they are in government, where they could also play a role, I don’t think there is any problem. As you know we have done this before. We have had members of Cabinet who came from other parties. I think it was important to have Pieter Mulder as a deputy minister in agriculture, because partly we are to address the very question we are asking, the question of how do we change the agriculture, the agriculture to become productive. In the past we used to export food, now we are importing. What can we do? And I believe that he has a role to play there. Whilst politically I thought it was important to have him within the deputy ministry or the ministries, but importantly to play a role in this particular.
Tim Modise: I’d like you to talk a bit more about food security.
President Jacob Zuma: Yes.
Tim Modise: Any ideas, what should the country be doing now to make sure that we produce more food.
President Jacob Zuma: Well, firstly there is agriculture as it were, where there is a minister and a deputy minister. We have got to look at what is it that made us in the past succeed, which we are no longer doing now. And the detailed work is going to be going in and they are working on it already. How do you combine that with your other kind of life which was people who were tilling land, they were able to have something and have something to eat. As a result both the ministry of agriculture and the ministry of rural development are in fact working together. I talked for an example about Giyani. They’ve been there together. They’ve got joint programmes so that both these dovetail. As you develop, as you develop the rural areas in every respect, including using the land, but how do you use the formal agricultural experience and knowledge to ensure that you are able to produce more food? That to me is very crucial. And I think they are doing it already, and the ministers in fact, the ministers after the budget will be giving minute details of what they are doing in addressing those issues.
Tim Modise: Let’s look at the capacity of the state to deliver on some of the points that we’ve spoken about. There is a ministry of within your office, of planning. There’s also the monitoring aspect of it. How are they going to work?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, the minister of national planning, really that deals with the overarching national plan that I think we should have. In the past if you looked at things, departments almost worked in silos. You need you need a plan that every other department is implementing the national plan, and you need to have a plan that talks to all issues, so that all other plans that emerge are guided by the national plan. You will recall for an example, not a long time ago, I think it was last year, we suddenly came across once we thought that electricity was in abundance in South Africa, we suddenly came across a shortage of electricity. That indicates that there wasn’t a national plan. Other people did not know that we’re running into a problem in terms of energy. If we said we are growing economy, it needed energy.
If we said we are rolling out electricity to the areas that never had electricity before, its common sense that therefore you needed to begin to work towards ensuring that there is energy. But because there wasn’t a national plan that did not happen. We would just hit a problem at a given time and we are saying there is a need for a national plan that everybody knows, which must influence as well the resources and the budget, what is it that we are trying to do. It must as well inform what even are… the provincial government is doing or local government, so that we don’t have the situation that whilst the national is doing something the province are doing their own things, and the municipalities are doing their own thing. There must be a generally agreed direction; of this is the plan of this country where we are going.
Tim Modise: And what about the monitoring side of it?
President Jacob Zuma: Part of the problem as you know, we have been saying our policies are very good. The problem has been in the implementation, and we are saying we can no longer complain about that. We now need to ensure that government works. Firstly, there is a change of culture in government. You know, government works very slowly. It needs to work properly. And therefore for us whether you talk about the national department or the provinces, etcetera…
Tim Modise: I need to interrupt you here, Mr President.
President Jacob Zuma: Okay.
Tim Modise: Change of culture, interesting point.
President Jacob Zuma: Yes.
Tim Modise: What do you mean change of culture, what’s going to change now?
President Jacob Zuma: In the manner in which people work in government. As I say, the wheel in government turned very slowly, people take time, they can’t sign a document today, and they will sign it again. A person comes to ask that, look, I’ve got no ID, come tomorrow. If people at the door or the gate are in a queue the time is time up, they say okay come tomorrow. I’m saying that must change. Nobody must be turned back in a queue. We must finish it today. And everything if a document, you are applying for a document; you must shorten the time of getting the document. Everything must be done properly. If the document has to be signed today it must be signed today, and we therefore establish the performance monitoring structure that must look at all of us. Are we working? Are we doing our work? Are we implementing? If not there is no need why we should be remaining there. We should move and let people who are going to come to do work. One of the things, people get employed to do particular work, they are interviewed…
Tim Modise: But does this apply?
President Jacob Zuma: once they’re employed, once they’re employed they then farm out the work to the consultants.
Tim Modise: It applies to politicians as well?
President Jacob Zuma: It is going to apply to everyone.
Tim Modise: Cabinet ministers as well?
President Jacob Zuma: Cabinet ministers, everybody else.
Tim Modise: President Jacob Zuma talking to us, this is a special broadcast. It will continue in a moment.
Tim Modise: Now President Zuma, I go back to your speech now, you said we will support the peace efforts of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) on the African continent, and went on to say as the chairperson of Southern African Development Community (SADC) and facilitator will participate in promoting inclusive government until free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. The plight of Zimbabwean people has had a negative impact on the SADC region, especially South Africa. What needs to happen there and when?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, as you know, SADC spent a lot of time on this matter. Zimbabweans themselves spent a lot of time. Finally an agreement was reached. What I think we are all saying to our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe is that they must implement an agreement. It’s very important. I think they are trying their best. Like all agreements it’s not easy to do so. But I think they’re trying. They need to be supported by us in the first instance, the region. And the point that I was making with regard to the Zimbabwean situation is that precisely because of the size of South Africa and its economy, Zimbabweans tended to come here in big numbers. Now that affects South Africa. It’s an important point to take into account as we deal with the Zimbabwean situation.
That it’s not just a situation that affects Zimbabwe only. Precisely because Zimbabweans walk out of the country, in Botswana, in Mozambique, in Malawi and Zambia, it does affect the region. So it’s not just because it’s a neighbour. It’s actually a practical issue. That we have got a situation and therefore the correcting of the Zimbabwean situation is important, because it does ease the pressure that you would have in South Africa. The estimation is that between three and four million Zimbabweans are here. That’s not a small number. Which I think even the Zimbabwean brothers and sisters in the leadership must take into account, that it is affecting everybody else, and we are therefore saying let us help them to implement the situation. We are also calling upon other countries who have got more possibilities to help support financially, resource wise, with material, to ensure that that agreement holds and it works and it begins to take Zimbabwe out of the trouble.
Tim Modise: Now the, you know, a lot of activities have been happening on the sporting front in South Africa. We had the Indian Premier League, the cricket one, the British Lions visiting South Africa playing rugby, at the same time we’re having the Confederations Cup. How do you feel about this amount of activity in the country?
President Jacob Zuma: Very good.
Tim Modise: Planning for the World Cup as well.
President Jacob Zuma: I’m feeling very good. It means South Africa is a country very active in sport and it is recognised by the international community as a country to come and entertain and compete. You know for an example the cricket, the decision to come to South Africa was taken in a very short time. And again testing South Africa whether it is ready to meet the challenges, and I think it did. We had a very successful cricket match, and the fact that the soccer is coming here and we are playing the rugby and everything, South Africa is just… it’s warm and it’s that’s why we are saying South Africans are very unique people, wonderful people, and a wonderful country. I think those activities just creates the kind of economic viability which is and tourism that we need as a country.
Tim Modise: Now you’ve in your speeches, the inauguration speech, the State of the Nation speech, you referred to former president Nelson Mandela. How important is his leadership to you, his style of leadership? And you’ve also spoken about the celebrations to mark his 91st birthday.
President Jacob Zuma: Well, president Nelson Mandela, the icon of this country, I think in the history of this country, both politically and socially, I think he remains one of the most important individuals within a collective, and it’s now, historically he has been. And I think he has made a contribution that I think we need to take. So I take Madiba as one of my leaders, the leader that has guided me. He’s one of those who guided us politically in our political development and have always done the right thing. And it’s important that he’s part of…
Tim Modise: And he stayed for only one term. Now in your case COSATU says you must stay for two terms, one part of the question. Second part, what should we expect as citizens in the country from Jacob Zuma the president, very briefly, Mr President.
President Jacob Zuma: Well, firstly the time, whether the term is one or two, that is determined by the ANC. The ANC will say what happens. I think for me the population must expect a person who understands that he’s been given a task to serve the people and who’s ready to serve the people of this country, and who’s ready to listen, who’s ready to take advice, who’s ready to be led so that he could lead better. That’s what I think the people of this country should expect from me.
Tim Modise: And from them?
President Jacob Zuma: From them of course I expect their participation, as I said, their advice. They shouldn’t keep quiet. They must be able to tell me when I go wrong. I’m ready to listen. They are part of the South Africa that must be better. So they must participate, they mustn’t sit back. That is why I’ve been appealing to the political parties that they must participate in making our country a better country.
Tim Modise: Mr. President, it was a pleasure talking to you, much appreciated. And good luck.
President Jacob Zuma: Thank you very much, Tim. Thank you very much indeed, thank you.
Tim Modise: Special broadcast with President Jacob Zuma and from us, goodnight to you.
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Issued by: The Presidency
7 Jun 2009
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