No half-time for political players

2010-06-13 10:38

President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe held

bilateral talks with their counterparts who flew into South Africa to attend

Friday’s World Cup opening ceremony.

On Friday, Zuma met Mexican ­President Felipe Calderón in Sandton,

hours before the start of Bafana Bafana’s match against Mexico.

Yesterday, Zuma held talks with ­Angolan President José Eduardo dos

Santos, his Congolese counterpart Denis ­Sassou Nguesso and Swazi King ­Mswati


Motlanthe held a similar meeting with US Vice President Joe ­Biden,

who ­later travelled to Rustenburg to watch his country’s opening match against

­England. Motlanthe also held talks with Bolivian President Juan Evo


Speaking to reporters before meeting Motlanthe at his official

residence in ­Pretoria yesterday, Biden said America banked on South Africa to

provide ­leadership to the African continent.

He said the US administration was “anxious to be of help in any way

we can” to South Africa as it demonstrated its leadership on the


In a statement, Motlanthe’s office said yesterday’s meeting focused

on ­international issues like Haiti, climate change and the development of the

South African government’s five ­priorities – education, health, rural

­development, employment and crime.

The American vice president’s last visit to this country was in

1977 as a young senator when he accompanied the black ­congressional caucus to

protest against apartheid.

His visit is the second high-profile ­visit by a member of US

President Barack Obama’s administration since Hillary Clinton’s visit last


Zuma invited all African heads of state – except those who assumed

power through coups – to the opening ­ceremony but only 19 attended.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi

tendered their apologies.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant of

arrest against ­Al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against


He would have been arrested had he travelled to South Africa as

­Pretoria is a signatory to the ICC convention.

It is unclear why Gaddafi declined.

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