News24

UK press 'out of line' over Zuma

2010-03-25 10:33

Cape Town - The British High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr Nicola Brewer, criticised the British tabloid press on Wednesday for their statements about President Jacob Zuma during his state visit earlier this month.

"They were completely out of line," Brewer told the Cape Town Press Club.

Before and during his three-day visit to London three weeks ago, during which he stayed at Buckingham Palace, British newspapers pounced like vultures on the juiciest aspects of Zuma's personal life.

Especially vicious, was Stephen Robinson from the Daily Mail who described Zuma as a "sex obsessed bigot" and a "vile buffoon". He also referred to Zuma's "20 children by ten wives".

Brewer said the negative reporting drew attention away from the real purpose of his visit, which was to forge closer government and trade ties between South Africa and Britain.

Visit a success - Zuma

Zuma described the official visit as a success in Parliament on Wednesday, and said investors would not be scared off by comments like those made by the ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema, who insisted that South African mines were nationalised.

He answered a question by DA MP Dion George and defended the credibility of his message in Britain that mines would not be nationalised.

"Government police does not support nationalisation. There is no confusion. Investors understand there is a difference between government policy and South Africans, like the leader of the youth league, voicing their opinions. We can't forbid people to air certain views."

He challenged the DA to enter into a debate with Malema over the matter. "Talk to him about it and prove to him that he is wrong. It is a public debate."

Zuma also said he believed he had succeeded in dismissing fears in Britain about crime during the World Cup.

The two countries signed a memorandum regarding police co-operation and security issues during the event.

About 50 000 British soccer fans are expected to arrive in SA for the World Cup in June and July.

Zuma, who was accompanied by over 200 South African businesspeople, said South Africa remained an attractive destination for investors and that Britain was the country's biggest foreign investor. Trade between the two countries amounted to R74bn in 2008.