Maharaj apologises for Zuma's comments

JOHANNESBURG - Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj has apologised for the Malawi comments made by President Jacob Zuma.

“I have received numerous calls from Malawians being angry and after long discussions, they come around and say, yes, let’s not make a mountain of a molehill,” Maharaj said on Wednesday.

“Let me apologise for that and withdraw it,” he said.

He was interviewed on Power FM where he tried to explain the context of the statements made by Zuma at the Gauteng ANC’s manifesto forum in Johannesburg on Monday night.

In a clip on the EyeWitness News website, Zuma is heard saying: “We can’t think like Africans, in Africa, generally. We are in Johannesburg, this is Johannesburg. It’s not some national road in Malawi.”

Maharaj said Zuma was speaking in the context of two points on the highways but these did not come out in reporting by the media.

“Firstly, he was saying we need to enforce the user-pay principle for the national highways, because it is not correct that people in the remote parts of South Africa should do the petrol levy and pay for the roads used in Gauteng,” said Maharaj.

He said the road should not be seen as a local road in a local area but as part of the transport system at the heart of the country’s economy.

“If that system through neglect of infrastructure chokes, the South African economy chokes.”

He said the comments did not reflect how Zuma thought or acted in forums about Africa.

“Our records are clear in that we are the champions of trying to get Africa to see itself as one and enter the global stage on a basis of equality with the rest of the players of the world economy,” said Maharaj.

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said Zuma must explain the blunder to Parliament.

She said the comments were unacceptable, and an insult to South Africans and to the people of Malawi.

“It is for this reason that I will today submit three urgent parliamentary questions to President Zuma enquiring whether he has followed due process and sent an official apology, or clarified his comments to the High Commissioner of the Republic of Malawi; and whether he will retract and/or apologise for his unacceptable insults to both South Africans and the people of Malawi,” Mazibuko said in a statement.

She said lambasting people for “thinking like Africans” was an insult to every citizen on the continent, including all South Africans.

“It is now time for President Zuma to recognise that what he said was unacceptable, to stop the ineffective spin, and do what is expected of him: retract and apologise without delay,” she said.

Comments (5)

No need to apologise Mr. Zuma. U were spot on. The rest of Africa is busy squandering money while their infrastructure is decaying. Look at Joburg highways. Carpet and not the potholes we have here while Mpofu and company are pocketing are diamond money. Next time Zuma's jibe must point north

Fatso - 25 October 2013

don't know about Malawi but I think zuma would have hit the nail on the head if his country of comparison was Zim. Potholes like dams, do not blame Zuma for speaking the truth

Mai T - 25 October 2013

I agree with people's sentiments. Perhaps Zuma should apologize to Malawi and say he actually meant the Republic of Nikuv aka Zimbabwe.

Stop-a-Thief - 25 October 2013

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Reducing Farming Costs - 31 October 2013

Good diplomacy to apologise but the message got through even though. Well done Zuma for telling Africa the truth about themselves which they pretend they dont see. The times of see no evil, here no evil and say no evil should be over.

SHIBHOBHO - 31 October 2013

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