President Jacob Zuma told diplomats living abroad to work harder in boosting the SA economy as they have a responsibility in building friendships and partnerships overseas.
The president said this while addressing South Africa’s heads of diplomatic missions abroad on Tuesday, as a way of allaying investors’ fear about the future of South Africa’s economy.
The president met with the diplomats in Pretoria amid the country’s economic challenges following Gordhan’s court case; alleged state capture by his close family friends; and student protests which he described as part of democracy.
“When people say, ‘What is happening in SA, why these protests?’, tell them it’s democracy. Why does it look like the ruling party is fighting, that’s democracy.
“The critical point is that democracy is moving, advancing. I’m saying this because people get worried and say, ‘Oh, your country is crumbling down,” Zuma said as he stands his ground that South Africa’s democracy has stood a test of time and would therefore never crumble.
Speaking further to the commissioners, Zuma said SA economy still faces major challenges despite growing by 3.3 percent in the second quarter after contracting in the first.
Zuma, therefore, urged them to take the country’s affairs to heart and ensure they play a part in bringing about positive economic change to help boost the economy.
“As our representative abroad you have a responsibility to build friendships and partnerships that will help us achieve these goals. The economy remains the apex priority and we want to achieve inclusive growth, jobs, and a decent life for our people,” he said
“You are our foremost marketing and promotion office. You need to continue to position our country positively and help us grow the SA economy through global economic partnerships.”
Ambassadors were also encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Nine-Point Plan for economic growth as the economy still needs a redoubled efforts to rejuvenate.
Speaking on the fate of the finance minister and its effect on the nation’s economy, Zuma reiterated his support for Gordhan especially in his efforts to reassure investors about betting on the country.
Speaking also on the fate of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), Zuma said in a democracy people could vote out leaders or parties they did not want.
“One day the party that was winning everything may not win others, that is democracy,” he said, adding that in democracy, there is no room for mistakes. “You make mistakes, you (are) punished for it — it’s democracy.”
“You lose, you win, but it (democracy) says look at yourself. Don’t make mistakes that will cause democracy to punish you,” he said.