Tunisia-like revolts impossible in SA, says Zuma

2011-02-17 06:55

President Jacob Zuma is confident that South Africa “will never become a Tunisia”, he said in an interview with Beeld newspaper today, referring to ongoing service delivery protests.

“I can tell you there will never be a Tunisia in South Africa. We have a constitutional democracy here; every person has the right to say what he wants and to vote.

“It is impossible. I repeat: It is impossible,” he was quoted as saying in the Afrikaans daily.

A state of emergency was declared in Tunisia in January in a popular revolt that drove out former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Pockets of protests have hit South Africa this week, with residents saying they were unhappy about service delivery, joblessness and the ruling ANC’s selection of candidates ahead of local government elections later this year.

Several residents in Wesselton, outside Ermelo, were injured when police fired rubber bullets at protesters this week, while Taung residents in the North West protested over bad service delivery.

One person died in Wesselton, with the police saying a postmortem would be conducted to determine the cause of death.

The Times newspaper reported today that 500 ANC members from three provinces descended on the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg this week, demanding that senior members intervene in growing unhappiness over election candidate lists.

The Eastern Cape police reported today that protesters had assaulted an ANC official and a police officer outside the party’s provincial offices in King William’s Town, also after complaints about candidate lists.

Zuma was asked by Beeld to react to a prediction by political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki – the brother of ousted president Thabo Mbeki – warning that the poor in South Africa would be revolting against the government by 2020.

Zuma said: “I don’t want to become personal because that is not my nature. But it is easy to be clever, sit back and criticise.”

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