President Jacob Zuma on Thursday took a swipe at his detractors, attacking them for spending lots of money insulting him and the ANC instead of celebrating Freedom Day.
Zuma was speaking at a Freedom Day rally in Manguzi, northern KwaZulu-Natal, where he addressed the nation on the country’s achievements in the past 23 years.
He was joined by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Zuma’s words came as leaders of various South African political parties, religious leaders and anti-Zuma supporters gathered in Caledonia stadium in Pretoria for the Freedom Movement rally against President Jacob Zuma.
The protesters, which included the late Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter Ndileka Mandela, reiterated the call to Zuma to step down as president.
According to News24, the president revealed that he had heard through the media that “there are those who are not celebrating Freedom Day” like everyone else but were rather “throwing insults” in Pretoria.
“I’ve heard through the news that they’ve spent money on insulting a certain party and an individual the whole day. We’re happy here, we are celebrating while they are throwing insults – oh my God,” the president reportedly said in amusement.
Speaking in isiZulu before his formal address, Zuma said he was not just addressing those gathered at the rally, but the entire nation.
He also spoke out on the importance of debating instead of criticising, especially in politics, saying that South Africa is not “built on anger but through peace”.
“When someone has done wrong, be clear so that they could learn instead of shouting. Because when you shout the person ends up not knowing whether you intend to help them or not.”
Zuma had some stern words for those hoping to govern SA one day, saying they must focus less on criticising and more on winning people over with their conduct and views.
He added that just because someone had politics views which differed from yours, it automatically made them your enemy.
Zuma used the event to once again speak out on the issue of racism, saying the ideology of racism was still firmly entrenched among some South Africans.
“In the fight against racism, government is finalising an action plan against it. In 1994, government took a decision to be nonracial. However, the exclusion of black people still continues.”
He said political freedom had been achieved but economic freedom remained largely elusive.
“Let me repeat this, by radical transformation we mean fundamental change in the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of owners in favour of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority [of whom] are African and women.
“The level of inequality remains high, as only 10% of the top 100 companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange are owned by black South Africans and the pace of black transformation also remains very slow,” Zuma said.
He said government was aware of people’s quest for available land, stressing the land issue would feature prominently at the ANC’s policy conference in June.
Meanwhile, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema on Thursday tweeted that SA was a country that claimed freedom but the oppressor lost nothing – instead, conquerors still shared the territory with the conquered.
“You can’t claim 2 be free when you are still dominated by conquerors (whites), freedoms means courage 2 challenge status quo without fear. Zuma is just an irritation and it must be resolved now but the biggest problem is white domination of the strategic sectors of our economy,” he said.