President Jacob Zuma referred to the political and economic crisis overwhelming the country as one akin to all countries practicing democracy.
Zuma, who was speaking to SA ambassadors on Tuesday, said South Africa’s current challenges are not peculiar to the country alone as critics assumed.
He, therefore, told the diplomatic commission in Pretoria that when people in other countries ask about current events in South Africa, they should reply by saying “it is democracy at play”.
“I want to say to you when people say ‘what’s happening in South Africa?’, ‘why these protests?’, tell them that’s democracy. ‘Why does it look like the ruling party is fighting?’ – that’s democracy,” Zuma tells ambassadors as he reiterates that the country was not crumbling but is a developing and functional democracy.
Speaking further on what many described as the political, economic and social decline of South Africa, alongside the growing calls for his resignation, the president said they are all factors of democracy at play in the country.
According to him, in democracy, mistakes are costly and very risky.
“You make mistakes you’re punished for it – that’s democracy. You learn how to not make mistakes so that you never lose one day,” he said.
In the ongoing violent students’ fee protests in universities across the country, public spats between ministries and the finance minister’s legal woes Zuma said they were all moves that would help to strengthen the SA democracy as the SA democracy will never crumble
“The critical comment is that democracy is growing, it’s advancing.”
Zuma has on countless times, been criticized for his role in the state of the nation. He is also at the center of criticism for the decline in support of the ruling African National Congress, especially during the 2016 municipal elections.
“In democracy people can get rid of the new leaders they don’t like and have the leaders that they want. There’s no problem about it, its democracy.” Zuma tells ambassadors pointing out that there was nothing wrong in one party being replaced by another.
Zuma, however, said he was happy at the growth of democracy in the country as South Africans had views and were not afraid to share them.
“Democracy is a debate. Debates at times are exaggerated in South Africa. Sometimes we debate over and over and over – but that is democracy you can’t go wrong. South Africa goes for everything,” said the president.
Meanwhile, Zuma condemned the growing violence attached to the students protest saying there was no need for students to break down the doors of learning when they were already open,
Zuma finally urged those in attendance to come up with ideas of how South Africa could resolve the impasse over calls for free higher education.