(DURBAN) South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said at the World Economic Forum in Durban that he didn’t mind being booed by the angry masses because it showed democracy was alive and well in his country – but saved a flash of anger for the questioning of his presidency.
President Zuma – under pressure through divisions in his ruling party and a downgrade to junk status – was at his palm-pressing and chuckling best as he toured WEF Africa ahead of first speeches later in the day. He greeted workers and politicians alike with handshakes on his progress around the ICC in Durban before taking a few questions at an impromptu press conference, the first of which was about him being booed by workers at the May Day rally in Bloemfontein.
“Booing is part of the culture of democracy. I am very happy that people can demonstrate their feelings it is part of the maturing of our democracy,” say Zuma.
“People are free to do this and I am not going to charge a policeman with arresting them. This is not a dictatorship.”
There was a flash of anger when another journalist questioned his tenure as president amid so much protest.
“I am an African, elected by Africans. What is your problem? You have a problem.”
President Zuma is one of a number of heads of state expected at WEF Africa, which lasts until Friday. He said during his tour of the building he was happy that the event had been well organised.
“Africa is the future…We as Africans are discussing what will happen with our economies. No one is speaking for us; we are deciding our own future.”
Other heads of state expected in Durban are President Robert Mugabe, on his first WEF visit since Tanzania 2010, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and President Edgar Lungu of Zambia.