Zuma is Africa’s finest president

2009-11-11 10:01

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma had the prestigious African President of the

Year award bestowed on him yesterday.

“As we accept these awards, it is proper that we pay special

tribute to our African elders who fought for freedom and independence,” Zuma

said at the African consciousness media leadership awards ceremony in

Johannesburg.

“These leaders fought for the unity of the African people,” he

said.

The award, founded by the African Consciousness Media and the

Kenneth Kaunda Foundation, recognises achievement and serves to honour African

leaders.

Zuma said: “What is most special about the award is that it is

Africans recognising what they regard as achievement and appreciating their

own.

“While individuals are singled out for awards, this ceremony is

also about acknowledging the collective efforts of Africa’s people to build a

better life.”

African leaders pledged that they would strive for the eradication

of poverty, disease and conflict, he said. They pledged to promote trade,

investment, economic growth, skills development and stability on the

continent.

“To promote good governance, we established the African Peer Review

Mechanism. To foster economic integration and development, we established the

New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

“These must be the instruments we use to advance the cause of our

continent,” said Zuma.

He said if leaders faltered they expected ordinary citizens, civil

society, academics and the media to sound warning bells.

“Good leaders heed these warnings and respond constructively. They

do not consider themselves to be above their people,” he said.

Zuma said the awards helped remind African leaders of their

responsibilities to the people. “A true leader is guided by the needs and the

collective wisdom of the people. These awards should therefore not be about

status or prestige, but service and sacrifice.”

Zuma particularly praised Zambian former president Kaunda for “his

brand of ubuntu”, which he said had been a guiding moral compass in that

country.

“It is a special privilege to receive this award from President

Kaunda and, in particular, Zambia. The former headquarters of the ANC was our

home away from home due to Kaunda’s solidarity and hospitality that we will

never forget,” he said, adding that African leaders needed to emulate Kaunda’s

example.

Zuma was elected South African president in April.

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