In an open letter released on Thursday, she writes: “I would like to challenge you to join me in a nationally televised presidential debate on the state of our country and our economy, particularly jobs, at a time and place of your choosing.”
In August last year, Zille called on Zuma to engage with her in a public debate on the state of the economy. Zuma turned down the request.
Zille says, in her letter, unemployment has grown from 30.4 to 34 percent since Zuma took office in 2009.
This is in stark contrast to the statements Zuma made on his administration’s record of job creation and economic management, she writes.
“I believe very firmly that we should have an opportunity to openly debate these issues together, and to answer questions from the public directly.”
She says a televised debate will strengthen democracy and public discourse.
“In real time, a live audience would be able to cross-examine us both about how we would create the right conditions for economic growth and job creation. Live presidential candidate debates are becoming common across Africa,” Zille says.
Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj would not indicate whether Zuma was aware of Zille’s invitation.
“I do not want to make a comment on that,” he said.