Columns 24.10.2013 07:00 am

What was Zuma thinking?

Shame, President Jacob Zuma has fluffed things up while addressing an ANC Manifesto Forum at Wits University on Monday night.

It is reported that when he was asked about the issue of e-tolling he said: “We can’t think like Africans in Africa. It’s not some national road in Malawi.” This unfortunately sounds like the president is making an unwarranted mockery of Malawi’s roads.

During his travels to Malawi, he was obviously unimpressed. The statement could also mean the president is not aware that South Africa is part of Africa, saying, “we can’t think like Africans in Africa”.

Mr President, which continent is South Africa in? It is a fact that Malawi is one of the world’s least- developed countries. As of 2012, statistics show that Malawi has 31 airports, seven with paved runways.

Some of the roads are unpaved. Yes, Malawi is not a rich country compared to South Africa, but making a joke of the neighbours’ house and struggles is plain arrogance.

Whatever the president meant by that statement and what inspired it, we will never know. But, of course, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj quickly stated that the president’s statement “was taken out of context and blown out of proportion”.

Of course Maharaj would say that, it is his job to always claim Zuma was misquoted or misunderstood. For a comment like that Mac Maharaj should have just said the president regrets making that comment. Do the president’s words mirror his true views of Africa?

In August, Zuma was in Malawi for the SADC Summit. Whatever he saw did not impress him. I don’t know what Malawi’s roads look like but, according to Zuma, they are not a sight for sore eyes.

I would love to hear Malawi’s President Joyce Banda’s response to Zuma’s remarks. The unedited version of her response is bound to be a hilariously annoyed one.

Statements like these inspired the Zimbabwean dictator, Robert Mugabe, to tell former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to “Keep your England, I will keep my Zimbabwe.”

President Zuma, you are the leader of an amazing country, please represent South Africa well.

 

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