Saturday, February 13, 2010

South African President Jacob Zuma Hails Former Leader Nelson Mandela's Legacy

Zuma hails Mandela’s legacy


CAPE TOWN. President Jacob Zuma hailed Nelson Mandela’s legacy of a non-racial, unified South Africa in a state address that celebrated the 20th anniversary of his release from prison.

The 91-year-old icon made a rare public appearance at the opening of parliament where Zuma pledged to boost South Africa’s economic recovery as the country readies to host Africa’s first football World Cup.

"As we celebrate Madiba’s release today, let us recommit ourselves to building a better future for all South Africans, black and white," said Zuma, using Mandela’s clan name.

"President Mandela was central in assisting the country to win the rights to host this great event.

‘‘We therefore have to make the World Cup a huge success in his honour."

Zuma joined South Africans and world leaders who heaped praise on Mandela on Thursday as the country celebrated his release from 27 years of imprisonment on February 11, 1990 — an event which signalled the end of apartheid.

"Let us pursue the ideal for which Madiba has fought his entire life — the ideal of a democratic and free society, in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities," said Zuma.

He acknowledged that his government "must work faster, harder and smarter". As South Africa prepares for the World Cup kick-off in June, Zuma said the economy was now creating work after shedding 900 000 jobs last year.

"Economic indicators suggest that we are now turning the corner. Economic acitivity is rising in South Africa, and we expect growth going foward.

"It is too soon, though, to be certain of the pace of recovery," he said.

"Now is the time to lay the groundwork for stronger growth going foward, and for growth that gives rise to more jobs. "This year, 2010, shall be a year of action," he said.

State support measures to mitigate the economic fallout will not be withdrawn, with 846 billion to be spent on public infrastructure over the next three years, he said.

In the wake of crippling electricity price hikes and power shortages, Zuma said the government will establish a new independent system operator, that will buy power from independent power producers and the ailing state utility Eskom.

A new measure will also see a one billion rand government-backed fund to broaden access to housing finance, with additional plans to also set aside 6 000 hectares of state land for low income and affordable housing.

Amid renewed violent protests over poor service delivery, Zuma said the government aimed to provide proper service and land tenure to half a million households by 2014.

Vowing to beef up government service, Zuma said his ministers will sign delivery agreements and tackle violence, which averages 50 murders a day, and increase the police force.

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