via Outrage over Zuma’s Africa utterances | The Herald October 23, 2013
South African President Jacob Zuma torched a diplomatic storm on Monday over his comments urging South Africans not to think like Africans in Africa, with critics saying such talk fed xenophobia that has cost the lives of many immigrants in South Africa.
Cde Zuma spoke on Monday at the Gauteng Manifesto Forum at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg on e-tolls where he cast aspersions on Africa in general and Malawians in particular.
“We can’t think like Africans, in Africa, generally. We are in Johannesburg, this is Johannesburg. It’s not some national road in Malawi,” Cde Zuma said, drawing furious reactions from within and outside South Africa.
Though South African presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj yesterday accused the media of quoting Mr Zuma out of context and blowing the statement out of proportion, his statement found few takers with social media abuzz with angry reactions.
“I don’t know what Malawi’s roads infrastructure has to do with Gauteng’s e-tolls. Zuma needs to chill with the arrogance,” tweeted writer T.O Molefe.
“I’m desperately trying to understand what Zuma meant with his ‘African’ remarks. I’ve translated it to Zulu and Xhosa, but it sounds even worse!” tweeted Mondli Zondo.
“Jacob Zuma must withdraw his presidency, not just the e-tolls statement. The rot is his whole being not just his thoughts,” said Mindlo Mindlo.
The DA also joined the conversation, with the party’s national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane calling for the president to withdraw his remarks, Sapa reported.
“The president was saying we must welcome e-tolls and pay up because new freeways have been built in Johannesburg. What the president doesn’t realise is Africa is actually developing at a faster pace than he suggests.
“Many governments in African countries have adopted investor friendly policies that create jobs. They are not burdening citizens with double-taxation through an expensive e-tolling system.”
Economic Freedom Fighters of fire-brand former ANCYL president Julius Malema also laid into Cde Zuma accusing him of peddling a Eurocentric superiority complex.
‘‘Mr Zuma has just proven to the people of South Africa, African continent and the world that he does not have respect for Africans and holds the Eurocentric stereotypes commonly repeated about Africans in certain cycles. How on earth can a sitting President deride Africans and speak of Africans as if they are inherently disorderly and unable to maintain their own infrastructure? How on earth can a sitting President of South Africa speak of Africans as a bunch of irresponsible people somewhere outside the continent which South Africa is not part of?
‘‘What the remarks by Mr Zuma reflect is not the state of ‘Africans in Africa’, but the state of his mind, which clearly remains colonised and controlled by dictates of white supremacy and Afro-pessimism. Instead of giving hope to the African continent and governments, Mr. Zuma chooses to make deriding and undermining remarks about Africans,’’ read the EFF statement in part.
According to the report, Cde Zuma said the roads would be tolled and workers who could afford and maintain a car would be able to pay e-tolls, and the rest of the people could use public transport.
Maimane said Cde Zuma should withdraw these “insulting remarks” and said people were not backward when they said they could not afford e-tolls.
He said Cde Zuma’s claim that working class people could afford e-tolls was false because people could not afford to pay an extra R400 a month to travel between Soweto and Midrand.
“Instead of insulting South Africans by saying we are backward when we oppose e-tolls, we should get rid of this backward and expensive tolling system,” he said.
The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed an Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) appeal against the implementation of e-tolls by the SA National Roads Agency Limited on 9 October.
On Friday, Outa announced that it would not continue its appeal against the ruling because of a lack of money.