Transcript of SABC interview with His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma on the State of the Nation Address
13 Feb 2011
Vuyo Mvoko: Good evening and welcome to this special broadcast brought to you by SABC News. We’re speaking to President Jacob Zuma, following his State of the Nation Address (SoNA) on Thursday. Mr President, good evening and thank you very much for allowing us to speak to you.
President Jacob Zuma: Good evening and thank you very much for the opportunity.
Vuyo Mvoko: Well, compared to last year’s lukewarm response, I think it was an overwhelmingly positive response that you got for your speech. Were you surprised?
President Jacob Zuma: No, I was not surprised. I was not surprised because I think that we tried to look at the situation of the country and really tried to address the challenges that we are facing. I think any reasonable South African would certainly see that we have tried our best. I don’t think I was surprised. I’m not sure if there was somebody else, what else would they have said really.
Vuyo Mvoko: Take us through what was going on in your mind as you were preparing to make that speech.
President Jacob Zuma: Well, we had started way back, firstly to say what are the challenges that face us today? You would of course recall that when we were campaigning, when we were concluding our campaign, we prioritised five issues, very clearly wanting to say what are the things that we need to tackle? Which are really challenges before us and we’ve been working on these challenges so that we were not working on any other thing. Very specific! And as we were preparing, having meetings, it was clear that ever since we started, three of the five priorities have been cracked. We’re clear on education, we’re clear on what we want to do. We have a 10-Point Plan which we are busy implementing. On health also, we are busy implementing that one.
On crime, we are also busy implementing. I think everybody accepts the reality that crime has gone down. The issue of rural development is an issue that we’re working very hard on. There’s a lot of the work down the road that has been done. The fifth one, which is job creation, is the one that has been standing and therefore difficult to deal with, so what was going on in our minds as we worked on this one was the question to answer – how do we crack this one? Because much as it looks like one of the huge challenges but also, it’s not like the kind of challenge that can be faced by one sector. It’s a challenge that needs all of us to participate. It’s to some degree a national challenge that needs all of us. It needs the government, it needs business, it needs workers on the other hand, particularly organised workers in the unions, it needs society. There are many, many things that we would have looked at so this was what was going on in our minds. How then do we crack it really? And how do we make everybody, firstly to accept that this is a challenge and therefore to accept the reality that we all have to work together at once dealing with it, because if we’re dealing with that issue, just like in education, we have dealt with a number of other issues. If we succeed to put the workers or those who are unemployed to employment, because then you are saying citizens who have not been able to put the bread on the table are now in a position to do so and therefore we’re dealing with the changing of the quality of life.
Vuyo Mvoko: Mr President, we are going to get into a little bit of detail around that – so would you then say that dealing with jobs was perhaps the single most important message or issue you wanted to deal with in your speech?
President Jacob Zuma: Absolutely! Critically, that was the issue, that’s an issue that, among others, that loomed larger than others. There are other issues but that one has been looming large as we were preparing for the SoNA.
Vuyo Mvoko: Now, analysts, pundits, political parties obviously have given various interpretations to the rest of the things that you said. What do you think of the reactions that you’ve seen so far?
President Jacob Zuma: I don’t think the reactions are surprising to me. If you take opposition parties, I think in my view they have responded as I expected, firstly to say yes, there is something that is being said here but they must find something. There must be a ‘but’, you know, always. So I expected that. So it’s not surprising. What though I wonder is going to be expected from the opposition parties in particular, is how utilising Parliament, we who are in Parliament, what is it we are going to do to address this issue that faces our nation – this job creation? Perhaps in the process of dealing with the issues people are going to be more realistic and I think some opposition parties really said this is the right thing. Perhaps what they said are the fall-shorts here and there. What I saw as a critical point that they were making, their point of view when they said “but it falls short of this”, they said it fell short of the details. Now of course I made the point as I was presenting that the details on a number of aspects are going to come when departments begin to discuss their detailed plans in terms of dealing with their budgets. So I wouldn’t have been able to go into all of the details otherwise I would be doing the work of the departments.
Vuyo Mvoko: Would you be so bold as to say that after your speech, you feel that you have your comrades, your opposition parties, your business, organised labour, all the constituencies. Would you say that from what they would have read from your speech they have confidence in your ability to steer this country in the right direction, confidence in the future under your leadership?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, I wouldn’t be much of a judge for myself, but I think from the reactions I would say generally people felt the country is going in the right direction. Generally, I think they realise government has the right approach. It has a plan. We are doing something on the challenges and that’s what is needed in any country. And therefore those who will play a part to assist, they are ready to do so. I would also imagine that all of them should be able to have the country move forward. There is no-one who wants to be an opposition in a country that is going down the drain. I think everyone will participate and show that we move forward to make South Africa really a strong country, a country with prosperity.
Vuyo Mvoko: 2011 has been declared The Year of Job Creation. When we come back we’ll get into the detail of that.
Vuyo Mvoko: Mr President, R9 billion to finance job creation. In addition to that, R10 billion will be made available to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) also for job creation and you also announced that there’s R20 billion in tax breaks and allowances that will be made available. Now we know that your ministers are going to get into the detail, as you said, but can you give us a sense firstly of how the R9 billion is going to be dispersed?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, I can’t get into the details, otherwise really I will be taking the work of the officials, of the ministers, of everybody else. I’m sure you know that. The fact of the matter is that we are saying here is concrete money that must go to any plan that we make. You will appreciate that I even said we are going to put together all the small financial institutions that have been dealing, for example, with the activities, economic activities, helping small business... the Khulas and all ... we said we’re going to put them together, so we are changing the way we have been doing things even at that level. But I wouldn’t get into those kinds of details.
The fact of the matter is that we need to change the manner in which we have been doing things. We need to consolidate what we have been doing at that level. We are giving also the money to the IDC so that those who are dealing with it, there is money to deal with it. You know that people at times will say “I’ve gone to the IDC, I’ve got no money”, etc – but we’ve got to plan things in a particular way. Everybody, as I said, from departments to those institutions, everybody must think jobs, jobs, jobs. What is it that we’re going to do to create jobs? So that it’s not just give money for the sake of perhaps helping this particular company to grow. It’s, if we give this company, what is it going to do to create jobs. That’s the job that departments and institutions must work on in the greatest details. As I indicated for an example, yesterday, even government, we are not going to allow vacancies. There’s quite a big percentage of vacancies that are not filled, that must be filled and I’ve said the performance monitoring and evaluation isgoing to look at what is happening, so it’s not going to be like the usual – there’s money out there, see what to do. There’s going to be rigorous monitoring as to what is being done by all of us towards creating jobs, particularly because we are saying here’s the money.
In relation to business, we are saying here is an opportunity wherein if you come in to invest, we’ll do something about your tax. In other words, an incentive to encourage them to come. If you are adjusting your company or whatever, or creating new opportunities, this is what you’re going to get as a benefit so we are in other words encouraging everyone, including business, to say “do something”. Usually, I mean people who say government creates no jobs, it is the private sector – I think it is both. It takes two to tango. We create an environment. That mainly is our task but we have gone further than that, to say here is money, institutions that work with government, we have given money that we will come to the party. We are saying to do the business it is not just inviting them to come, we are saying if you come under these conditions, you’ll certainly benefit something. So it’s a win-win situation.
Vuyo Mvoko: Let’s then take the R20 billion in tax breaks and allowances Mr President. To qualify a company has to have or be willing or able to invest something like R200 million. Wouldn’t that discriminate against small business?
President Jacob Zuma: No, small business in a sense is covered from the other money that we are giving, because they will go to the IDC, for example, as a small business who cannot meet those kinds of conditions. There’s no problem with that. It’s not discrimination. We need investment and those who have got money, they must put in and those who can’t reach that point, they would invest with the normal conditions that are there so it’s very targeted to those who can be in a better position to present themselves in terms of investment, so it’s not discrimination at all.
Vuyo Mvoko: So in essence, the R20 billion going to the IDC is what will service, hopefully, your small businesses whereas the tax breaks and allowances are in a sense meant for big business.
President Jacob Zuma: That’s correct. That’s absolutely correct.
Vuyo Mvoko: Now let’s get to the social part, business and labour – what exactly are you expecting them to do?
President Jacob Zuma: I think firstly, we expect that what we have put before everybody else, we agree that this is the way to go. So how then do you deal with it in practice, I think is a question of all of us understanding where we are, that at the moment we are dealing with the jobs. We’ll have further discussions with them. How do we look at the creation of jobs? How do we create an environment that allows that to happen? There are many other issues. For an example, we have raised the issue in the last SoNA, not this one, about a lot of young people who qualify at the university, who are skilled in other words, because we can’t complain about the skills, when there’s skills in abundance sitting, which do not have an experience. How do we address that issue? This we’ll discuss with the social partners because how do you allow skilled people in to swell the ranks of the unemployed when in fact you could find a way to deal with it? Those are issues we’re going to deal with because when we raise the issues there are different views. We’re going to engage, because we are going to say here’s a skill. Because of the fact that companies, they want to have somebody who is going to produce today and if you were employed, you have skills but you don’t have the experience, sorry! What do you do with that fellow? You can’t take that person as [non-English insert]. How do we turn that skill into an experience? That’s what we’re going to be dealing with, with our social partners, among other things.
Vuyo Mvoko: Now you made a good example, I think with respect to business. From labour, what for instance are the sorts of things that you think you may be able to raise with them?
President Jacob Zuma: No, as I’m saying, I don’t think we could raise more than what I’m saying except if we are looking at their own investments which they have, they may be wanting to play a role but this is a kind of example I was making with them, that if there are issues we’ve got to deal with them, a very concrete one in my view is one I’ve just mentioned wherein we’ve got skilled labour but no experience. What do we do with it? How do we make it move? How do we change it instead of allowing huge numbers that come out every year as kids qualify, you are adding numbers to the unemployed, what do we do? It’s a challenge we must deal with. We can’t just live with it and say because they are not skilled, fine, let them join the ranks. As a country, between us and labour, because it does have views, how then do we tackle the issue? Those are the matters we’re going to deal with.
Vuyo Mvoko: Now, you’ve also thrown in the role of government departments as well as state-owned enterprises (SOEs), that they too are going to play a major role in this job-creation initiative for this year. Now, to someone who asks, but SOEs especially, are having their own challenges. Some of them don’t even have chief executive officers at the moment, if you look at organisations like Transnet. Are they ready? Do you believe that the public sector, including SOEs, actually have the capacity to play the significant role you are envisaging for them?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, that is what we’re addressing. You will know that not a long time ago, we made adjustments and changes in government, precisely because we are saying we need to prepare. We can’t do things as we have been doing all the time. They are therefore been geared to have that capacity. They are working on that right now because they must have that capacity. They must be able, for example, to do what they used to do before – to train people, to create opportunities. Your question of the challenges that they’ve been having, we are dealing with those challenges. It’s no longer a kind of a problem that we don’t know what to do.
There are plans to deal with those problems so that they’ve got sufficient capacity to be able to deal with those matters. Everything that we need to do, including departments, everything that we believe has a role to play, we are going to do something about it. That’s why I emphasised from the beginning that we are going to be monitoring very closely everything, how is it working, is it because a department has no capacity that it can’t do x, y, z? We address that question. So there is nothing that we are going to leave to chance. We are going to be able to deal with everything, therefore the public enterprises are going to be looked at very vigorously so that they are able to play a role, given their positions and their capacity and the way they’ve been doing things in the past, we believe they’ve got a lot to do to ensure that we are able to implement our plan.
Vuyo Mvoko: We are going to take another quick commercial break. When we come back we look at what is the state of the country’s municipalities.
Vuyo Mvoko: Welcome back. We’re speaking to President Jacob Zuma following his SoNA. Mr President, there seemed to be not the same kind of focus on the state of local government that you gave to, for example, jobs. Was there a reason for that?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, we did talk about it but we did not give the same prominence as we did with the jobs. I think the issue with the jobs is a critical issue. I think the question of local government is now a routine that people know, they are coming, we need to participate. The critical point that we were making is that even local government, those who come in, they must know this is a task that faces the nation today. So we were in a sense focusing on this one. That is why we did not go into details insofar as the local government elections but the question of jobs to us is uppermost at this point in time. But we did talk about the local government, not at the same detail as we did with the other issues.
Vuyo Mvoko: Mr President, I’m saying this because you say, to quote you “people’s experience of local government is not a pleasant one”.
President Jacob Zuma: Absolutely!
Vuyo Mvoko: And when you go on to talk about some of the good things or some of the people who are working, you seem to acknowledge that it’s only some, but not even the majority. Now, in a country that has seen something like, I think at last count we counted 117 protests in South Africa over the past year, which is a record, isn’t that cause for concern?
President Jacob Zuma: Absolutely! That’s precisely why we said some are working, some are not working. There are many factors. I think some of the factors are some municipalities don’t have the revenue base so they can’t do anything, even if you wanted them to do something. Anything that comes to them is to keep them going. It’s an issue, it’s a challenge that we’ve got to deal with. We can’t therefore expect those to deliver, to do anything beyond what they’re doing and that’s why they’re standing in one place and those things that are deteriorating, they are deteriorating. We need to look at this as a country in a very focused fashion. And there are not just few who don’t have the revenue base. We have got to look at ourselves. In fact, should we keep these municipalities at that level for ever? Why? If they cannot do more shouldn’t we be re-looking at whether we add them or we expand them or we dovetail them with others.
It’s a challenge that faces the country. So even if you wanted them to perform better, you can’t. But there has been also a very large degree of corruption that people have been talking about or councillors at times that were not working. But it does not say that the majority, the ones who are not working. I think the ones who are working very well, are in the majority. Some are not. But if you take the municipalities that I am talking about which are quite huge, you could not therefore say these are the best performing, so that kind of statement does not condemn everybody. It just says there are difficulties here which we need to come back and look at. Some people who complain about councillors have different reasons. Some reasons in fact that caused some of the protests were not necessarily delivery. They were actually political. People were using the municipalities to fight political battles. So it’s a kind of a mixed bag. You can’t just say these are the straightforward issues. I think it is a matter we got to come back and look at, as you know from the ANC point of view, for an example, as the organisation, we have said that because people are saying you gave us a councillor that we don’t like, we have in a sense created a space for communities to take some active part by saying whilst we are in the process of nominating, we don’t just say this one councillor, we give more names to say to the community choose amongst these, which one do you think is a correct councillor? It is part of trying to address the concerns that people have been raising, so there are many things in the municipalities or local government that are challenges that we need to deal with and I think the moment is in fact coming as we go to the elections.
Vuyo Mvoko: So what do you say Mr President to someone who says if you look at a municipality like Johannesburg, it is probably the richest municipality in the country, that is where the skills are in Gauteng, it’s got the money and is got the people in other words the Municipal Manager there and other officials are probably amongst the highest-paid officials in that sphere of government, how then does one explain things like problems with the billing system?
President Jacob Zuma: That is a problem of the system, how people are working, it is a challenge that faces any company, that faces any kind of sphere of government that Gauteng has to wake up and deal with the issues, why there is a billing problem, now I don’t know what is the cause of it, but that is a different problem, it is not lack of capacity, it is not the lack of resources, it is a different problem altogether which needs to be tackled differently and we deal with it as it were. I mean the manner in which for an example, the issue has been raised, the manner in which the response has been given, that tells you there is an area that we need to deal with there.
Vuyo Mvoko: Now if we then move on Mr President and talk about some of the things, in fact some of the criticisms leaving aside some of the things that are being said by people, analysts and other people who may be playing politics, you look at the South African Local Government Association report, you look at the reports of the Auditor General, they speak to something that is going very wrong within the municipalities, but things that are within the abilities of the managers and the councillors and everybody, in other words these are things that can actually be rectified, in many instances people just don’t do their jobs.
President Jacob Zuma: Absolutely true, absolutely true, that is precisely the reason why when I have been talking about performance monitoring and evaluation, I've said it is not going to be staying only at the national, it is going to deal with the provincial as well as municipalities, one of the things that we are going to be doing is to strengthen that department, to capacitate it in such a way that we are going to deal with those issues. I don’t think it will be acceptable that people just relax, when they are actually carrying out the tasks for the citizens, for the country and we have got the kind of things where those reports indicate negligence, indicate people not doing things properly, that is when then we've got to come in and ensure that people do things properly. One of the issues is to actually employ people who must be qualified for the jobs because in some instances, people just don’t know what to do, but they are there in the position, so that is an issue we are going to be dealing with down the line, so that we have people who are in the jobs, who are supposed to be there because they qualified for those jobs. There are other jobs that need no qualifications, but those that need qualifications, you need to be very meticulous in terms of employing the right people for the right positions.
Vuyo Mvoko: Mr President, it is an election year, are you not worried some of these things will come back to haunt us again and there may be people who may want to use the opportunity of what the elections are presenting to actually bring back all the things, flaws that you say can be dealt with, some are not dealt with?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, that is part of life, that is part of life, that is part of politics, that is part of governance, we have got to do things properly so that we do not open up the loopholes for people to take advantage of. That is precisely the point I am making, because people are not going to stop taking those advantages. In our situation, those people are they ready to do so, supposing if they will be given a chance, will they be able to do so? I am not sure, I don’t think there are people who could do better than what we are doing, I doubt that, South Africa itself is fairly a new country, we are just 16 years. I think it will be expecting too much, that within 16 years of democracy we have perfected everything. I think the teething problems, the learning curves are still there, because government is not a simple matter, it is a complex matter, but I think the fact that we are able to identify the problems, the shortcomings and identify the remedies, we are moving very well, we are making a lot of progress, we are correcting things as we go forward, I don’t think we could do better that what we are doing.
Vuyo Mvoko: We are going to take another quick commercial break and when we come back we talk about education, health and social welfare.
Vuyo Mvoko: Welcome back Mr President. You are saying ‘Triple T”, here you said this year's focus will be on teachers, text books and time. One politician is very unhappy, the leader of the Democratic Alliance said yesterday that you actually stole her idea.
President Jacob Zuma: Well, I don’t know where I stole her ideas, but the reality is that we are talking about what we have been talking all the time, they are saying education is crucial for the nation, no nation that does not pay attention to education can succeed, it is impossible, so we have made the right choice in terms of making education as the apex of our priorities. We went further to divide the department which was very huge and the tendency at the time was that the concentration was more on the higher level rather than the basic, and therefore created a possibility that we pay sufficient attention to both. I think we are, as I said, we have got a 10-Point Plan at the level of basic education and I think we are doing the right things and I think our approach to this question has actually made the country to move with the flow, that is why the Matric results begin to be better and the enthusiasm from the students.
I think after a long time, it’s for the first time that even higher education is in difficulties because of the numbers that are coming, that is important that we deal with that. I think education is crucial and we are therefore saying if we are to succeed we've got to deal with education at the formative stage, at the foundation and that is why we are saying the teachers therefore become important. One of the teachers I suspected I didn't ask because one lady that I walked to in some house in Durban said to me you have invited us to talk, she said can you look after teachers? Because the teachers are important to create the environment so that teaching is indeed effective, that is what we are talking about, so we said the teachers must do their jobs. Historically, teachers and education were a pivotal point, very vital, whatever else you do teachers were important, so we are saying T number one is for Teachers and we are saying the textbooks must reach the children at the right time and each child must have a Textbook, because crucial for the teaching to continue, they must have the material in their hands and T number three is Time. Time is crucial, that quality time that is given at school must be used, must be maximised, that is what we are talking about. I don’t know other parties of the Ts what are they talking about, but I am talking about the teacher must be at school on time teaching enough hours, the hours that are stipulated by the law and the child must have the book and therefore the time is crucial. So we are saying whatever we do, if we fail that, there are many other things that we need to be looked at, how do we prepare the kids in terms of what kind of subjects do they take to prepare themselves for the higher level? So that we don’t get children studying anything up to a point when they get to university they don’t actually know what they are coming to do, they are just going to take what they are given, in other words we must begin to orientate, guide, help to check whether the kids will be good in that kind of field, so there is a lot that we need to do to ensure that education is streamlined to a point that we are able to succeed.
Vuyo Mvoko: You said something along similar lines in the 2010 SoNA, you made a very bold statement and in the same year we had one of the biggest strikes that this country has ever seen certainly by teachers, do you think that teachers listened or heeded your call last year and how confident are you that they will listen to you now?
President Jacob Zuma: I think teachers did listen, no doubt about it, I interact with teachers, I interact with unions. I think the issue that caused the strike was a different issue, cause it was the issue of salaries, it is an issue I think between government, public sector unions as well as government, they must discuss very carefully. I would want to believe that last year’s strike must have been a lesson on how do we go forward. I am sure things were taken to some very extreme at that time, I hope it will not get to that level which it got to last time, but critical to this is the understanding, the commitment by everybody, because not a single one said education was not important, everybody was saying even the workers, precisely because we say education is important, create the necessary conditions for the teachers. I think we need to have a kind of an agreement, how then do we deal with that issue because we all agreed that it is important and I must say; to me the fact that when we had the biggest strike but the results have actually improved indicate the commitment that the teachers have, the community has, everybody has had because you could not, everybody was saying it is going to be bad, I think the teachers when they came back they give it all, they even, I think, worked extra hours – that is what we need about education as a challenge for the nation.
Vuyo Mvoko: Of course that has given rise to another problem which we alluded about earlier, that is universities not being able to, I mean institutions of higher learning not being able to absorb the numbers of students who want to study, how are we going to deal with that one?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, that is the matter I have raised, it with the Minister, that is a matter we have to deal with because I don’t think it is accurate to say look, we now have no space. You can't deny children education, we need to be innovative, we need to say what do we do? I mean under the circumstances if it means hiring other buildings that necessarily could be found so that the people are at school, it also means a challenge of the lecturers, do we have sufficient lecturers? That is, I think to me this particular wave begins to expose, it means we need to understand that we need to increase the volume of the lecturers as well as the space, you know that we have been talking, for an example, about two provinces that have got no universities. Of course we have taken a decision to establish the universities, but that in itself indicates a problem, because we should have sufficient space to take our citizens, we should plan, we know the growth of our population, we should be knowing that therefore what is a demand in so far as the space for tertiary institutions and therefore the space for people to come in, that should be part of our automatic planning, I think that is what we are going to look at as we move forward.
Vuyo Mvoko: Let’s move quickly Mr President to the issue of social welfare, you made a point yesterday that we are developmental and not a welfare state, and then you went on to say we now need to link what we are giving people who are in underprivileged conditions to economic activity. Now can you just expand on what you mean exactly by the kinds of economic activities that people can engage, that is people who are recipients of government assistance programmes can actually engage in the economic activity?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, firstly the point that we are a developmental state, we are not a welfare state, it is an important point for the country to bear in mind. In other words, once we have expanded the issue of the age for an example the age limit in terms of the grants, etc, which is important because we are dealing with the crisis of poverty that we got to deal with, but it cannot be a permanent feature, as a country we have got to plan, what do we do to reduce those numbers? One of the critical points is how we are dealing with education, for an example, of the poor kids, the fact that we are introducing free education is one way of tackling that issue so that these kids who would otherwise not have had an opportunity to go to school, will therefore remain as kids that could not be productive, in other words, are going to be empowered and therefore reduce the numbers from those who would otherwise just be sitting as one area with regard to education. But we are also saying whatever we are doing, what can we do to create activities to those who are poor so that they begin to do something, in other words to focus to those poor ones, in other words to say what can they do as that could generate some income that they could live on their own to assist them to do so? Because it is better to assist that person with something to stand on her own or his own, rather than to keep giving that person forever, that is what we are looking at.
I have not gone into details about that, but it will happen because the situations are different, in some areas, in the rural areas we may have different things to do to empower the community to be able to do something. What I am looking at is to reach a point where only the aged and the disabled would actually be deserving to receive this permanently, but those who have the bodies, able bodies to work they must do so. There is a particular programme that I have started of the community programme in my own village, the point I made was that in no way we can fail to be imaginative and with that programme is going on, and I say this business of saying people who are in the rural areas, unskilled, they've got no skills at all, I said they have got skills of looking after cattle, so why don't we introduce dairy farming, so that we bring cattle for them, which is a capital kind of demand so that they are able to look after cattle because that is a skill they have, they are able to milk, get the milk, put it in the market so that they are able to earn something. I believe there are many other things we can do, if they are succeeding to do so and I have said so you could even begin to build a situation where they look after cattle, meat cattle so that they could supply abattoirs, so there are many things we can do, I believe it, even to the poorest of the poor to empower them so that they are economically active.
Vuyo Mvoko: Mr President, we are going to take the last commercial break and when we come back we look at South Africa's place in the world, so don’t go away.
Vuyo Mvoko: Welcome back to this interview with President Jacob Zuma, Mr President we are taking up our seat in the United Nations (UN) Security Council, we are also looking at we now becoming part of Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS), what would you say, I mean for the ordinary South African, what would you say are the benefits of us playing on the big international stage?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, firstly, if we take into account, if you take first the UN, the UN is the biggest organisation of every other country, but it has other organisations that relate to it, it does have this Security Council which then places countries a little bit above general countries where in final, actual final decisions are taken, critical decisions, for a country to get there it is not a small matter. For us to come back in a short space of time, I think it firstly indicates the confidence that the world has on African National Congress,sorry on the country, South Africa, you are looking at a situation where people feel if SouthAfrica is a member of the Security Council, its voice is very, very important, important from the point of view that South Africa is one of the countries that exercises a very clear constitutional democracy and ever since 1994, we have been very consistent in raising issues without buying the favour of anyone. That is what South Africa is all about, sticking to principles, speaking for the poor in the world, speaking very loudly about the transformation of the institutions of the UN and other international institutions.
It is an important struggle that we are waging as a developmental country.
Secondly, South Africa comes from Africa, a continent that has been left behind by the developments of the globe, which is now in the process of developing one of the leading economic growing regions of the world and South Africa is the biggest economy of the continent. Therefore, by us being there, you represent an important region, so from those point of views, our being there is crucial, South Africa's voice is respected, not because people love South Africans, because it is a principled country, it raises issues that need to be raised without fear of favour, that I think is important and that is why even when we were voted in, we were voted with the biggest numbers, so it is important to be there. With regard to BRICS, it is very important that we belong to BRICS. This is a small group of the countries that are emerging economically, different from the old world, old countries, if you look at Brazil, it is a different country, if you look at China, India as well as Russia, much as Russia is in Europe is almost like an emerging, given the fact that it is now Russia, no longer the old Soviet Union, that grouping if you talk about huge emerging economies, you cannot fail to count China, India, Brazil and Russia, critical, this voice, this grouping is becoming very important, important in the, firstly, in the context of South-South relations, two in the context of developing countries, but also in the context of the changing economic equation in the world. In no way any economist today can say the old world is going to lead forever, what is critical is that the emerging economies, by their sheer size are in fact a major factor today and for South Africa to belong to that group again adds a lot of value that in the changing world, we are in the top of the groupings that have a voice that must be listened to, but also South Africa represents the African region in that equation. If you look at BRICS, before BRICS, it was Brazil, Latin America, it was India and China, Asia, Russia and Europe, Africa was not there, so the coming in of South Africa completes the puzzle and it is crucial because the world is changing and therefore South Africa must be at the leadership of shaping how the world changes today, so it is absolutely important that we are part of that grouping.
Vuyo Mvoko: Well, in that role we are going to play as the voice of the continent whether it is BRICS, whether it is the UN Mr President, we have to get our house in order. You did of course say yesterday that you will be monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe, you also mentioned the events in Egypt and Tunisia and so on, but as a last point perhaps, do you think that African leaders are very much aware of the changes globally, in other words it can no longer be business as usual and what would you say are the lessons of those experiences for our own country?
President Jacob Zuma: Well, I think Africa is aware that the world is changing.
Vuyo Mvoko: Leaders specifically and especially presidents?
President Jacob Zuma: Yes, leaders are aware at times in informal discussions, some leaders do say we need to put our houses in order and I think we have been trying. The fact that today coups are not tolerated in this continent, is a step forward, there is no General today that just think I will conduct a coup and I will be part of the African Union (AU), I will seat nicely in the continent, not at all. They are trying to put their houses in order in terms of introducing democratic practices in the continent. For an example, we are talking about many countries that are joining the Peer Review Mechanism, who are saying here we are, look at us from the continental point of view, whether we are doing things right, help us. In each and every summit of the AU, we discuss the Peer Review reports that are given by the different countries, I think that is an indication of Africa realising where we are going. Those countries that are not realising that, they are going to be left behind and I think some of the activities currently taking place on the continent, I think again are a lesson, that we can no longer do things the old way, we have to change, we've got to be part of the changing world and I think there is awareness and there is a kind of a leadership that is emerging, that is actually saying we can't do things the old way including our interaction with Europe. We have begun to say it cannot be business as usual, we've got to determine the agenda as well. We have got to find a way that we will meet at equal levels. I think that is, to us very important, we still have to do things and discuss things differently and to meet even the situation as I said it is emerging of a changing world, Africa has to take this position in a very solid fashion.
Vuyo Mvoko: Mr President, we have run out of time, thank you very much. Well, we have come to the end of this special broadcast brought to you by SABC News, from me Vuyo Mvoko and the rest of the crew, see you again next week, same time.
Issued by: Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)
13 Feb 2011
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