President, African National Congress, South Africa
Adjunct Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
PRINCETON LYMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all, and welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations, a conversation with Jacob Zuma. We're delighted to have so many people here for this event.
Let me make a few administrative comments first. I'm Princeton Lyman. I'm an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations on African Studies. Our meeting today will be on the record, and we're delighted and grateful to C-SPAN which will be broadcasting this meeting live.
We have also via teleconference, we have council members participating around the country and indeed around the world.
Let me ask you all, please, to turn off, not just turn silent, to turn off all electronic communications devices because it interferes with the transmission. Thank you very much.
I'm also delighted that our event today is the Darryl Behrman lecture. The Darryl Behrman Lecture Series was endowed by the Behrman family in the memory of Darryl Behrman, who came from South Africa, was a very successful businessman in the United States but very concerned with international peace, with Africa and with South Africa. He died unexpectedly in 2002. The family has endowed the Behrman Lecture Series. This is our third in the series, and we're very grateful to the Behrman family.
Now, how we're going to proceed today is that we're going to make tis conversation style. I'm going to ask our guest to open up with some remarks, et cetera. Then he and I will have a bit of a conversation. And then we'll throw it open for questions. And we will end promptly at 1:30.
These are very momentous times in South Africa, perhaps the most momentous since the end of apartheid in 1994. There are major changes underway in the leadership of the African National Congress. We had the resignation of President Thabo Mbeki just seven months short of the end of his second term. We have movement underway by some people in that administration to break away from the ANC and talk of establishing a separate party.
And perhaps fueling a lot of these changes and much of the debate, an unhappiness in the country or in certain elements of the country that in spite of 15 years of relatively good growth, the benefits of that growth have not reached the majority of the population in jobs and in terms indeed of moving out of poverty. And that has fueled much of the debate and some of the changes that are taking place in the country.
All of this, of course, happening as the world is going through a financial crisis. And that, too, may have a bearing on all of this.
Our guest today, Jacob Zuma, is very much at the center of all these developments, and we're delighted to have you here.
You have a full bio of Mr. Zuma in your papers. And I will be only brief in introducing him. He was born in 1942. He joined the ANC at 17 (years) and devoted much of his life to the liberation of South Africa from apartheid. He was imprisoned for 10 years on Robin Island where Nelson Mandela was also serving in prison.
After 1994 -- he was part of the negotiations leading up to 1994 -- he rose rapidly in the ANC. After that, he became national chairman of the ANC. In 1999, he was elected executive deputy president of South Africa. Then in 2005, things seemed to change a little bit. There were allegations of corruption, and President Mbeki asked him to leave. And Mr. Zuma has fought those charges with vigor, and he led a campaign to change the leadership of the ANC.
In December 2007, Mr. Zuma was elected president of the ANC, defeating Thabo Mbeki. And he is, in our election terms, the presumptive ANC candidate for president and, if history is any guide, perhaps the next president of South Africa.
He is a man of some controversy. But if I can add a personal note, Mr. Zuma, when I was in South Africa during that period of 1992 to '94 when the violence in KwaZulu-Natal, your province, was so threatening and even threatened civil war on the beginning of South Africa's democracy, which would have been a tragedy, no one, in my view, worked harder than you to contain that violence, to reach across to the Inkatha Freedom Party, to bring it under control and avoid a civil war. And I know you brought that same skill to your work in bringing peace to Burundi.
So welcome to the council. And we look forward to your opening remarks. Thank you very much.
JACOB ZUMA: Well, thank you very much for your kind words and for the opportunity. Before I say a few words, allow me to introduce my colleagues here. As you know, we are here as a delegation of the ANC. I'm with the colleagues, some attending other meetings. But we have the ambassador, who is here, Ambassador -- (inaudible). We have also Mathews Phosa, who is the treasurer general of the ANC, an old freedom fighter as well who was the first premier of Mpumalanga province. He now tries to see that the ANC has money to function. (Laughter.)
LYMAN: Very important.
ZUMA: Very important indeed. We also have Dr. Zweli Mkhize. The people didn't see you. They just saw the little hand showing. (Laughter.) I think if you could stand. That's Phosa. (Applause.) Yes, please. And then Zweli Mkhize. (Applause.) He is also the member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC but also the chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal province. He's also an MEC for finance. MEC means Member of the Executive Council which, in simple terms -- we are very fancy with words -- it means the provincial ministry, really, in simple terms.
Other colleagues are somewhere else, as I said.
But thank you very much for the opportunity indeed. Firstly, we are here as a delegation. We have had meetings or are in the process of having meetings with Madam Secretary this morning. We have also met with the president. We have had a meeting in the White House with some of the key people there who was passing through. And it started to get into meeting and greet, and we were grateful for that and, of course, had some discussions as you'd imagine. If you were in this part of the world or in Europe, the issue of Zimbabwe is always the issue on the agenda. So those matters have been discussed. But we are very happy.
We are here because we believe that there has been a relationship between South Africa and the United States in the process of the history, as it were, in a democratic society. There is going to be change in the United States. There are changes already that were referred to in South Africa that are taking place. And both sides felt it was very necessary that we touch base to ensure that those relations continue. That we, therefore, don't meet for the first time if we'll all be there after next year. We could meet now and look at the situation. Fortunately, we have been part of the administration in one form or the other. There has been those kind of communications. But also to meet the investor, the private sector and other concerned people to discuss the issues of South Africa. We have already talked about the issue of the financial problems that face the globe today with both meetings and other meetings that have taken place.
Of course, among other issues, there has been the issue of what is happening in South Africa. Well, if I could say a few words on that one because I think it would be saying why is, you know, not discussing South Africa but discussing everything in the world.
You will recall that South Africa is relatively a young country. We are just about to complete 15 years of age. So we are in our teens, if you were to make the analogy of a human being really. But nevertheless, we believe that we have made a good start, firstly because we were able to achieve change in South Africa from apartheid in a manner that not many people expected will happen.
Of course, I'm sure many people would say we all made the contribution. And indeed, we all made a contribution to that. I'm sure my good friend sitting there, the former leader of DA will say we made a contribution. The DA serves as a progressive party. We have had a very important member who kept the opposite regime in check all the time.
But from the ANC point of view, we believe that over the years, we matured our policies and culture. And because of our clarity, we had confidence in addressing the issues of South Africa, which the question of negotiations was critical. We did things that many -- liberation movement did not do at the beginning. We are not afraid to conduct the negotiation within the borders of South Africa, which many liberation movements would not have done.
I think that goes a long way to indicate the confidence of the ANC and its certainty about what it wanted to do. But we've also done something which we believe was important to take every political entity in South Africa as part of that process. So we had an inclusive process.
We did not seek to exclude other people. We felt everybody should be part of the process. We felt gains could only be done by people who were confident, who knew exactly what they were doing, and then gains also in a process where all parties -- some of them who been quarreling, calling them names -- popheads (ph) and sell outs -- because of -- (inaudible) -- et cetera.
But at that point was we realized a defining moment in South Africa had come. Every political entity had to be part of the process. And we were, therefore, in a better position to organize the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, which, at times, is referred to as the major party in negotiations, and produced a kind of an agreement that actually shocked the world.
And people said this is a miracle because nobody ever thought apartheid will end in a negotiated settlement given the intensity and the depth of the conflict and racial nature of it. I think that -- (audio break) -- going a long way to say to people whatever challenges that we are faced with, how we're going to deal with them.
You will also, of course, be certain that as we started, led by the former President Nelson Mandela in 1994, we establish a democracy that we believed was important. The nitty gritties of reaching there are also important because we finally agreed that the constitution, the final constitution of the country had to be negotiated by the elected representatives, not by the parties that met at Codessa because we all agreed we're not elected, even if the ANC was a big organization. But we believed that you need people to write the constitution of the country who are elected by the representatives or by the people.
So we said -- (audio break) -- Parliament. We will, therefore, turn it something to a constitutional assembly to write the constitution. All we could do was to write an -- (inaudible) -- which in itself was entrusted because it entrenched unity of the country given the fact that we were coming from racially divided society.
I think from that point of view, every South African was really confident we established a rainbow nation. We had an economy that has been growing since that time. So democracy has been there. Our constitution is one of the constitutions that is commented about as the best constitution so far -- I mean, all constitutions cannot be very perfect -- with checks and balances, with guarantees that it cannot be abused by an individual or a strong political party, which then makes the South African citizens to be comfortable.
So if you look at what is happening today in the ANC firstly -- and I must say this, and we could, again, quarrel with my friend -- that the ANC has been in the center of this because of its size, because of its clarity, because of its commitment to democracy. I think we've been in a position to live relatively comfortably to say things are going to move okay.
But given the ANC as an organization, there have been developments within the ANC, which started in the years that you just alluded to and that began to see some developments within the ANC. Now, ANC is a strong culture of collective leadership, of the membership that is very active, participating in the affairs of the organization, jealously guarding that the ANC remains what they believe it is.
At some point, I think, there were feelings that things were not moving the way they would've wanted. And those who observed the South African senate after 2005, in fact during 2005, we had what was called the National General council which is a bigger government of the ANC between the two conferences wherein the membership of the ANC put the leadership of the ANC on the spot on the development that had taken place -- (inaudible) -- to observe some of the decisions, even the decisions that I've taken as an individual.
The membership said no, you do what we want you to do. Clearly, again, that must tell you that you're dealing with an organization that has a very particular culture but that it does not depend on an individual. It depends on the collective as well as its membership. I think that was played out, to a large extent, as we went for the conference last year.
I think it is going to be important again just to indicate that leaping into that one, you had a situation where because the country's constitution has two terms for a president and the ANC's constitution doesn't have limitations, and people were saying, what's going to happen given the people of -- (inaudible) -- been noticed in the process? And of course, you know these guys. I'm sure they are all over here, the media, were rushing to people to say, look, what will happen.
And they began to say to President Mbeki, what's going to be your position? Well, his indication was, well, the question of the -- (inaudible) -- serve them because the constitution is very clear. I'm going to be loyal to the constitution. But the ANC does not. And therefore, if the ANC members are saying we still needed to continue, I will have said to -- (inaudible). That provoked a debate in the ANC because the people were saying, could you have a president of the ANC not being the president of the country? Wouldn't that create two centers?
It's a debate which went on, and it went into the branches of the ANC until it was resolved in a national policy conference of the ANC, which was held a few months before December. The ANC took a position that the ANC president to the ANC would be the country's president, so to speak. And therefore, that was a position that was taken.
But of course, after that position, the guys that said they're very active came to the president. And it still continued well if I'm elected, I will. That led to, I think, a contestation of some kind because when the nominations were done, some ANC members nominated Mbeki, some nominated Zuma. And therefore, that's what you saw going to Polokwane.
In Polokwane, of course, the conference spoke. What is important, which I think our friends maybe missed, is the kind of strong traditions of democracy within the ANC. What I think is not very common that a sitting president is voted out of his position while still sitting. But in the ANC, as I just described it, was in a position to do so.
Of course, in the process of elections, there were quite a number of people who were not elected, who had been sitting in the ANC, some of them, since 1991 in the executive. It is clear from the behavior of some of them that it has been difficult to accept the fact that they are no longer members, they are no longer taking part in the decision-making. And when first decisions as the ANC has taken to ask the president to resign and they were not party to it, they were not informed about the nitty gritties of it, I think it has just difficult for some to accept. And I think that is why some of them are feeling, well, maybe it's time that we disagreed, this ANC is different, et cetera.
That has brought to the point that many people have been talking about over the period. Can the ANC break or whatever? And of course, you have in the details what I'm talking about, the possibility of a convention. And I heard that my friend's party has said they will attend the convention. (Laughter.) If that is not -- (Inaudible) -- this was an open convention.
In any case, that's democracy -- whoever attends it will be very fine. And that could lead to a formation of the party. We are still waiting, all of us, to see. From the ANC point of view, we're trying our level best to engage but we have taken certain decisions to those who have acted outside of the constitution of the ANC.
Once again, as the situation moves forward from the ANC, we are confident that our policies are very strong, are very clear. And even those who are speaking from the ANC, talking about the convention, a possible formation of a party, so far have not articulated any alternative kind of policy positions that will be different from those of the ANC. We are still waiting to see. And we'll see the situation as we move forward.
We are certainly approaching the election with the usual vigor, hoping to raise the percentage as we already do. And then people are beginning to see that possible. That's a debatable point, but that's our determination, that's what we want to do. We don't think that what is happening in South Africa politically should actually make anybody to -- (inaudible). We have a very mature democratic that could take such decisions.
I've been making an example that a few weeks ago, I was visited by former generals from some countries in Africa who, when they greeted me, said if this decision was taken in any of our countries there would be a civil war. But in South Africa, there is none. I think that it's smooth moving forward. And of course, people are politically making their points. That is the essence of democracy. So I don't think people should be worried about that.
With regard to policies, the ANC has pronounced some policies in its conference, and we are, as creator of the ANC, going to be undertaking that mandate to ensure that we are able to move forward. And therefore, we have made it a point we are going to change no policies. It is the ANC that do set policies, change them when it is necessary. It's not the job of individuals, whoever's the president, whatever. Even the collectives discussion have to work very hard to make recommendations for those changes. ANC is a very sensitive organization to its policies, so you cannot do that.
So there should be no worry. The situation is going to continue no matter, and the collective leadership of the ANC is going to do so as we can see right now. There is President Kgalema Motlanthe, who is in this period, who hasn't changed any of them. He's adhering to the policies of the ANC. So I don't think there will be anyone who will do so.
So in a sense, I'm saying no panic. Everything is fine in South Africa. Thank you very much.
LYMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Zuma. That was a very interesting assessment of how the process works. But let me ask a question about some of the things that people are worried about. Some of your supporters have been making some pretty radical statements. I know you said in an interview not long ago about Julius Malema, the head of the ANC Youth League, he's a young man, let him grow. I mean, you said, bring him along.
But he's said really some things about anybody who gets in the way has to be eliminated, pushed aside. It raises questions about independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, et cetera. But I think, even more fundamentally, the challenges that the next government of South Africa will face on economics are very grave.
And when you have supporters, as you do, from the Labor Federation, the Communist Party, the Youth League who want, I think, quite radical changes from the policies that have been followed, how do you deal with that? And how do you, to put it more bluntly, keep those groups from trampling on some of the constitutional principles that you've talked about?
ZUMA: Well, as you know, we have the Youth League. ANC Youth League is an old organization. President Mandela was one of the founders. You know what he said one day in a serious meeting of the ANC to the president of the ANC? He challenged him and said, I'm going to be the president of the ANC, and I'll deal with this matter very radically.
We believe that the Youth League -- in fact, I swear we trained -- (inaudible) -- to become leaders of tomorrow. Remember, it's not the first one. We have had quite a radical youth. You'll remember one called -- (inaudible) -- who probably said more things than what Malema has said. And that's before Malema. Figyelem Balula (ph) has been also very vocal, Malema as well.
I think, in a sense, in a democratic situation, the youth have always moved from that point. It becomes our job to help them, train them as we've done. And I'm sure you will agree today that Malema is not saying those kind of things. That must say something about what the ANC is doing in terms of preparing and making its young people appreciate what is the development to be done in a particular way.
If there was a youth who doesn't do that, then we wouldn't have a vibrant youth that could tomorrow be the leaders of tomorrow. I said one time when I was talking to one journalist, I'm sure in South Africa, we know people now who learn computers, they don't learn grammar. Is there no longer any figure of speech -- I mean, that is said figuratively -- that people learn, some people who make statements. Politically, people that come make very strong statements, which you could think they are about to fight.
I'm sure if you went into many parliaments in the world, you can even seem to -- (inaudible). They stand and shout while one is speaking, et cetera. I think it is in the nature of politics. I don't think Malema meant what he said that he's going to do it. Fortunately, he has clarified that to the authorities that wanted that clarification. So I don't think we should worry about it. That's why the ANC is handling internally as a matter that it needs to handle it.
But the remarks that you talked about, which I think I would like to deal with, the threat to the judiciary, et cetera, I think you should bear in mind that there has been a case which I can't comment about was about me. The manner in which the case has been handled, there has been a very obvious realization from the ANC broad kind of membership that there's political manipulation of the case.
And there are certain things that happened. For an example, at one point, which is not done, you first heard of NPA which is the National Prosecuting Authority. When everybody was saying after this investigation of this case, we'll then have Zuma being taken to court. Then they got trials. The allegations have been tested, and a verdict will come.
He suddenly called a meeting which it called of -- (inaudible) -- select editors which were called to have off-the-record briefings, and advised to them the details of the investigation and allegations. That way, they tried not just me alone. There are other few people that he talked to.
And then pleaded with the editors that helped me. I want to try Zuma in the court of public opinion -- (inaudible). And it became open knowledge. And people said, but what investigation is this? What is happening? And that's when people began to fear that it was not a suspicion, it was in fact a statement made by the man in charge of the investigation, that he has an agenda to try Zuma in the court of public opinion. So it did not emerge for Malema or my supporters, if there were supporters at all.
But it did not end there. When he concluded the investigation, he had conducted his own trial in the press conference and made a determination that nobody made in court, whether there is a prima fascia case or not, and said to Zuma there's a prima fascia case. But I'm not going to take him to court because my case is not winnable in court. It was never done. Unprecedented. Sitting next to him was a minister -- Maduna, Peneull Maduna -- who's a political -- (inaudible). What did he want there? He actually said things himself.
Now, if there is no political manipulation, why did the -- (inaudible) -- say that? Why would Maduna fit in that situation? Now, that is what influenced people to say there is a problem here. What is happening?
Now, of course, at some point, the case was thrown out of court. There were threats thereafter that I'll be charged. And as we went into Polokwane, the rumor about me being recharged, the tension and -- (inaudible) -- was growing, became even more intense -- (inaudible). That this was very much a test to political temperature in the country.
I think our conference ended on the 28th of December. During the holidays, I was recharged as if it was a response to the results of the Polokwane. So there has been a lot by the state (organizations ?) suggesting the political manipulation of the case. And this is what people have been saying that, from the basis of that, this is a political matter. And therefore, it might need a political solution. This is their own view.
But at the end, the judge looked at them. (Inaudible) -- NPA. Along the line, that there had been in fact dealing with this matter politically and even say there was interference from the president. And he indicated earlier -- now, this is a judge, not Malema -- who said there has been interference.
I think we should take all of that into account when we say why then the ANC people will be saying what they say. I think that is the background which I think we should take into account because the ANC believes very fully in the rule of law and to respect the judiciary. And we'll defend it to the end. We respect the freedom of speech as well as the freedom of the press. If we were to deal with these matters, we must take that into account.
With regard to the issue of -- (inaudible) -- to end South African Communist Party. Now, I've been saying to the media -- they've got short memories -- when Mandela became the president, he was fully supported by Cosatu and the South African Communist Party. Nobody said now Mandela is going to deviate to socialism. What we are part of our multi forces as the ANC. (Inaudible) -- when President Mbeki was to be elected president, he was also supported by this, too, fully.
So there is nothing new and strange with Zuma today. I think people just forget that in fact there's nothing new with this, too. And you cannot then say from Mandela to Mbeki because of the support of Cosatu and the South African Communist Party, then we succumb to the pressure and move to socialism. Not at all.
A very important fact where an important factor so far is they are able to be the voice of the poor who remain poor all the time. And therefore in a sense they bring the balance in the debate, so to speak. And to us, that is not at all a wrong thing for them to exist and have the views about what happens.
I've just made a statement here that the ANC policies will remain. One of the things that many people don't know, the evolution of ANC policies is actually -- which is their participation. It's not that they make policies when its concluded -- much of the debate between us and them that they are part of the policies. So there isn't anything to worry about. These are the colleagues who have been with for a long time, since Mandela, Mbeki, and they will be here, I'm sure, to the one who will follow. They will still be there.
LYMAN: Thank you. I have many more questions, but I'm going to open it up to many people here.
I think I'm going to take about two questions at a time so we can get in as many people as possible. When I call on someone, you have to stand up and give your name and your affiliation and then a very brief question so we can get in as many as possible.
So let's start here, the lady right here and wait for a microphone.
QUESTIONER: Hi. Barbara Slavin from The Washington Times. Sir, I wonder if you could tell us, if you become the president of South Africa, would you accept a two-term limit as president? And also, what changes would you like to see in the current South Africa constitution regarding land ownership, foreign businesses, et cetera? Thank you.
LYMAN: Let's take one more and then we'll -- yes, Pauline, right here.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Pauline Baker from the Fund for Peace. Mr. Zuma, again, in the future, you said that all ANC policies would be maintained. Does that apply to HIV/AIDS? And how important is that issue to you?
LYMAN: Well, that's a pretty full menu. (Laughter.)
ZUMA: Yes. Well, firstly, the issue of two terms is an established set in South Africa. That's the constitution of South Africa, which we all follow, and we've committed ourselves to it. So there will be no change. Two terms will certainly be what the constitution says.
You said -- just remind me of the other.
QUESTIONER: (Off mike.)
LYMAN: Land --
ZUMA: Oh, changes in the constitution. No, we haven't talked about the changes in the constitution. And certainly, just to make the point, I haven't said that there is no change that we are foreseeing. If there needs, though, to be changes, we cannot rely on the individual. Generally, that would have to be discussed by the organization if there was. There isn't, so far, up to this point in time.
It's going to be difficult for the ANC to have changes because people will agree that the ANC had a lot to do with the current constitution in terms of crafting it. So the constitution stands on what the ANC participated to make it what it is. Our duty, as a citizen, as a political party, is to defend the constitution. So that is very important.
With regard to the land issue, we have a policy in South Africa, land restitution, which has been going on. The criticism has been that it has been too slow. Probably will be -- the act dealing with it is too complicated. I don't know.
But there are issues that need to be looked at, even with what has happened. The land, for an example, that has been reclaimed and has been given back to the people. In some cases, there hasn't been a program to ensure that the land, for an example, that was protected continued to be productive, in the majority of cases left unattended to. And that we need to look into that. What can we do to improve on that situation?
In some cases, people are asked to choose whether they get the land or they are given money. I don't think there has been an effective advice from people because generally, when to the people the money is mentioned in millions, they think these millions are coming to them. But when it's divided many ways, it comes back to few thousand.
So I think it's a question of people understanding that the land is an important asset that they should not necessarily get rid of quickly. So those matters, I think, we could follow and deal with.
There have been issues with question of the land that there is more work that we need to do. But some people have a perception, for an example, that maybe the farmers are resistant, et cetera. But I've met farmers who are actually looking forward to be in a position to be helpful. So it's a question of us exhausting what is there at the moment insofar as the question of the land.
I don't think there will be any changes in terms of our relations with investors. We will still continue the same way. We are still asking the investors to come in so that kind of our forward-looking policy in terms of doing business is going to maintain and is going to be different. And I'm hopeful that on that one, all of us, including my friend there, we ask for investments to come -- (inaudible). Absolutely. (Laughs.)
And with regard to the question of HIV and AIDS, I think our policy has been good. It's been good. I know there is a perception which I'm going to explain. We have a policy that is in fact acknowledged by the World AIDS Organization as one of the best. We have a comprehensive program to deal with it.
What people at times have mistaken is what was said at one point by President Mbeki as his own personal opinion, not as a policy of the aims of government, with regard to the HIV and AIDS. And people tended to believe that that was our policy. It was not. And we have been clarifying the issue.
Equally, the answer that was given by the former minister on certain foods that you must eat as a support to -- (inaudible) -- good food, et cetera, people tended to think because it is said by the minister that is our policy. Not at all. Our policy is clear if you look at it. So we are not going to change our policy. We are going to maintain our policy as it is, a comprehensive one.
You are aware, of course, that President Motlanthe had changed the minister of Health. There's a new minister. And I'm sure if you follow what the new minister is saying in terms of -- she's not saying anything new. She's just saying let us implement our policy as it is minus the emphasis on the food. (Laughter.) I think it's just important.
LYMAN: We'll take some more questions. The gentleman there, and then I'll get Mel and then come back to Rosa. And then I'll go to the back.
QUESTIONER: Peter Leone, partner -- (inaudible) -- Johannesburg, South Africa. Mr. Zuma, you've said constantly that there will be no change in economic policy under your watch. You don't make economic policy, the party makes it. So I just want to put something to you. There seems to have been a definite drift in government policy in terms of market friendliness. I give the example of the establishment of a state mining company, the announcement from the Tripartite Summit this weekend that the principal of willing buyer-willing seller could be abandoned in terms of land reform, and that the expropriation bill which I think Mr. Phosa would say responsible for having withdrawn from parliament is likely to resurface on the agenda next year. Doesn't that all seem to indicate that government is becoming more interventionist in terms of its economic policy and less market friendly? And what sort of environment does that create for investors?
LYMAN: Okay. We'll take two more. Take Mel and then Rosa and then I'll go to the back.
QUESTIONER: Mr. Zuma, welcome. We met some years ago in your home in Cape Town.
LYMAN: And introduce yourself, Mel.
QUESTIONER: My name is Melvin Foote. I'm with the Constituency for Africa here in Washington, D.C. My question, Mr. Zuma, is what changes do you envision in terms of South Africa's policy with respect to Zimbabwe?
LYMAN: And then take one more -- Rosa.
QUESTIONER: Welcome. We have many stakeholders here --
QUESTIONER: Oh, Rosa Whitaker, president of The Whitaker Group. You have many stakeholders here who would like to see you succeed and are supportive of your vision. Are there any insights that you can share with us about the ANC's economic summit? And what role do you see for the United States government and U.S. private sector in helping you to achieve those industrialization goals that you've outlined?
LYMAN: Okay, we have strong questions on the economic front, are changes that people seem to be talking about.
ZUMA: I have absolutely continued to say I will change no policies if I become the president. I have no capacity and authority to do so. That is in the hands of the ANC. And I would imagine, to some degree, you are talking about the ANC participants. And therefore, you are talking about a collective that debated the resolution from Polokwane.
How do we put those into programs, to implement, to go forward? And if those issues are discussed, it's not the first time. We have discussed those issues because the ANC continues to discuss policies and the implementation and also to evaluate whether they are working.
The issue of the land has been the issue that has been discussed. Polokwane has taken a very serious decision with regard to egrarian policies precisely because we are faced with a problem not only on the size of the land but in the usage of the land to deal with the issue of poverty in South Africa and to deal with the issue of rural development in totality, which is part of the element of dealing with rural development. That's one of the very strong resolutions we took in Polokwane, how to develop the economy in the rural areas so that the people in the rural areas also benefit in the economy of the country.
Now, if there are discussions and issues that people are looking at as they emerge -- I think when the press conference -- (inaudible) -- we have led the country -- as they emerge from the summit, it means these issues need to be debated and they are open for discussion to South Africans once they are out there, you are expected to contribute. In your view, what you think will be the best way? We have been always open to debate issues with whoever has views in one form or the other, including the land issue.
We have said the land issue is a very serious matter in South Africa. But we wanted to handle it responsibly so that we are able to resolve it. But even before we say -- if we get people to talk about more land, as I was saying earlier answering another question, are we able to ensure that what we have done already, we have done it appropriately, effectively, could we improve on that. And if at all there are gaps, how would we close those gaps?
I think it's, in my view, an indication of a democratic society that there are no issues that are taboo, that cannot be discussed. No matter how people could feel about certain views on specific issues, they must be in the open for discussion. And if changes have to come, certainly the ANC's appropriate structures will deal with those issues. You will know, if you come from Johannesburg, that if we go for our national policy conference, we actually publish our paper position for comment from everybody else. By the time we meet, we are able to take into account what people say and discuss those and formulate our policies.
So it's not the question of one day we wake up, we must change the economy. Economy -- (inaudible) -- at all. There is a process. There's a process that everybody is aware of. We believe in being transparent, that people should be aware and should participate.
And I'm sure, if I could take the last question as being part of what she was asking, we are going to maintain the policy of relations with the United States. Some of us believe that it wasn't done sufficient in terms of the investment from here or two ways. We need to do more on that. And our being here actually says something towards us saying, what else can we do continuing forth in terms of the relations?
We believe that America, up to now, has not come very strongly to take advantage of the open economy that we have. And we wish to discuss and companies must discuss what else can we do to deepen that kind of relationship. We want to, we want to deepen that relationship. We feel it to be very important for South Africa as well as for the continent.
ZUMA: Zimbabwe. (Laughs.) I would have been surprised if that question did not arise. (Laughter.) Well, Zimbabwe, I feel, has been a problem for quite a while. And we are dealing with it, as you know. And I must say, South Africa, for a long time, was under pressure, under criticism as to why was South Africa adopting a particular stand on the Zimbabwe policy. We believe we are correct.
But what is important as well is that South Africa, unlike many other countries, including in the region, South Africa, with regard to Zimbabwe, has had more impact on Zimbabwean problem. There have been two-and-three-plus million Zimbabweans in South Africa. And to us, it's not an ancillary question. It's a question that affects us directly, that strains our own social resources.
And therefore, we adopted a particular stance from the beginning. But instead of criticizing Zimbabwe from a distance, we needed to engage the Zimbabweans, to be together with them and search for a solution. And in that context, we decided to engage both -- (inaudible) -- and MPC. And both knew that we were discussing.
There were a lot of discussions that took place. President Mbeki was (looting ?) that from the government point of view. There are many things that happened in that process over a period. From the infancy, we engaged the two parties to try to find a solution. We have done so all the time. And we believe that engagement by South Africa of Zimbabweans in order to further taking a decision to say Mbeki should in fact, on behalf of South Africa, be a mediator. We should finally -- (inaudible) -- the deal.
And indeed, it has been difficult for the deal to be implemented. That's a challenge that faces all of us. We are encouraging Zimbabweans to do so because we believe the plight of the Zimbabwean people is more important in the country. And they're encouraging them. And you don't want them to waste a minute before that package on the table is implemented.
We know that Mbeki, for an example, has been asked again by President -- (inaudible) -- to go and help the Zimbabweans to finalize the package and the package to be implemented. He has had difficulties for Zimbabweans does things -- they're not easy customers to deal with. (Laughter.)
But all of them agreed that we should have a meeting of a troika the smaller body of SADC in Swaziland that's supposed to take place yesterday. I saw from the news that there was no progress made there because Morgan Tsvangirai did not have a passport. Now, you can't have that kind of a situation when you're dealing with such an important matter. One of the very chief figures can't attend because he doesn't have a passport. I think that sounds weird. (Laughter.) Absolutely! Why couldn't a citizen have a passport to go to an important meeting? I think SADC must actually put their foot down so that we can have a solution. That is our view. And to support a process that is going to achieve an agreement that will be implemented, that the Zimbabweans for the first time, and for a long time, could therefore be helped by everybody. People are waiting to help. The meeting that was held here, the government indicated they are ready to move, but they cannot move without a proper agreement.
I also have a problem personally that if you have a package that has been agreed upon -- hailed by the world, why should we have a difficulty to implement? After all, this is not a permanent arrangement. We're talking about the interim arrangement. Why should it be so difficult? So once we have an opportunity, we'll continue to interact with the Zimbabweans so that we have a solution.
LYMAN: I have time for about just a couple more from the back -- Stan and then the person there, three people right there, and then I'm afraid we'll have to bring it to a close.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Thank you very much. I'm Dan O'Flaherty with the National Foreign Trade Council and the Corporate Council on Africa. President Zuma, you indicated a desire for closer commercial ties with the United States for more investment flowing your way and presumably some flowing our way. Two and a half years ago, the free trade negotiations with SACU were suspended. So my question to you is, would you favor a resumption of free trade negotiations between South Africa and its neighbors with the United States?
LYMAN: Two more quick ones. Yes.
QUESTIONER: Gabriel Pellathy, Department of Commerce. Building on that question, where do you see South Africa's energy sector and energy policies going, including nuclear? Thank you.
LYMAN: And we had one more there.
QUESTIONER: I'm Lawrence Freeman from Executive Intelligence Review. Mr. Zuma, given the -- one of the difficulties facing President Mbeki has been the failure of the economy to provide for the poorer people in society. And given the fact that we now have a full-scale financial meltdown, how, if you're the president, how are you going to be able to deal with the 40 percent that are still suffering from poor economic conditions that have not been dealt with up to this point under more difficult conditions because of the global economy.
LYMAN: Okay. We have free trade, we have energy and helping the poor.
ZUMA: (Chuckles.) Well, yes, the issue of the free trade, as I said, we are in favor of increasing the interaction between South Africa and the United States. There were negotiations that were taking place between South Africa and its neighbors and, of course, with the United States. And I think the issue was should that be negotiated as a bloc with the United States or individually? And I think that's a matter that the region, I think, the SACU countries are discussing. And I don't think I can have a final point on this one, for the matter, I think, is under discussion.
And I think once we have concluded those discussions, we will come back to that. It's an issue that cannot be left unattended to. It does need to be attended to for, in a sense, it speaks to question of how do you deal with the region or some countries in the region as the United States or also opening up the individual kind of interaction? It's an important issue, and I'm sure SACU will take that matter further at some point.
LYMAN: Energy policy.
ZUMA: Energy policy -- our energy policy, I think, is clear. With regard to -- I know that you might have problems with the fact that you have had energy difficulties, which we appreciated that there were some mistakes made, and we are dealing with that our energy policies currently.
With regard to the departure of the --
ZUMA: Nuclear -- our policy is very clear that nuclear, insofar as it is the nuclear that is beneficial, that is not the kind of the nuclear that will produce bombs and other things, the nuclear that is going to help people, to develop and meet the demand of the people, we are for that. And I think we've been arguing about -- the global argument about countries in terms of this issue that there must be an understanding that we needed to deal with that because it is one of the safer kinds of energies that we could have.
So our policy moves along those lines. And we'll continue to argue for that -- that let us use nuclear for the beneficiation of the people rather than for destructive objectives.
The last question was -- ?
LYMAN: Helping the poor --
ZUMA: Helping the poor.
LYMAN: -- in the midst of global financial crisis.
ZUMA: Well, your financial crisis certainly is going to make an impact. Because what it's going to do, it's going to slow down the economic growth given the fact that this is very huge. And therefore, it's going to impact to the poor. What is a challenge to us is the very point you are making. We have been having a growing economy in South Africa, which everybody is aware of. But the research and statistics indicate that because of the growing between the poor and the rich -- and that's a challenge that face the administration right now and the administration that is going to come.
Some of the policy provisions that we are taking, that have been taken as -- (inaudible) -- have that in mind. How do you deal with the issue of the poor? That is why we have very much talked about the need for job creation -- quality job creation and that other economic policies that we have, not -- (inaudible) -- so that we do not have the huge army of the unemployed.
One of the points, for an example, that we are prioritizing, the rural development, deals directly with the question of poverty, where the -- (inaudible) -- poverty is. What is it we're going to do? We are elaborating details as to what we are going to do. We are very much mindful of this, and our policies that we have taken are, in fact, in a sense, bearing this in mind. How do we deal with this?
We have in South Africa a situation of what we are calling the two economies -- the first economy and second economy. And the issue is how to close the gap between the two. It's a tough issue because, in a sense, the first economy which is regulated -- the regulation of the first economy does not take into consideration the second economy. And therefore, that is why there's been the opening of the gap rather than the closing of the gap. How do we mete out the kind of policies that, in a sense, bring these two so that the first economy helps the second economy to grow and, therefore, pick up the poor, so to speak, to a particular level. Those other matters we would have to deal with because at times, the regulation of the first economy in fact suffocates the second economy. How do we open up that situation is a challenge which I think we are going to be dealing with.
LYMAN: Well, Mr. Zuma, thank you so much. We'll have to have you back when you have all those answers in place. (Laughter.) But you've been very kind. (Applause.)
ZUMA: Thank you very much.
LYMAN: And thank you, everybody, for being with us today. Thank you, again, Mr. Zuma, for a wonderful conversation.
ZUMA: Thank you very much. It was a wonderful conversation.
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