Zuma rings bell in ‘gratitude’

2011-09-20 10:33

New York – President Jacob Zuma yesterday sounded the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in an attempt to shore up better trade relations between South Africa and the United States.

The bell is rung every day at 4pm to announce that all trading must stop and can only resume the next day.

Seven South African companies are listed on the NYSE and Zuma was shown how the Barclays booth did its thing on the trade floor.

“We are very grateful for the discussions we could have about the financial crisis. Your understanding of the eurozone helped us to understand where we are,” Zuma told his hosts, the officials of the stock exchange, after he signed the guest book.

According to those in the know the bell is rung regularly by VIPs, including heads of state and company CEOs. This is a way to show that the visitor supports the American way of doing business and shows appreciation for the country’s economic success.

For the bell-ringing session, Zuma was accompanied by Bongi Ngema, one of his two wives who accompanied him on his visit to New York.

The presence of Thobeka Zuma, who is in the city to receive an award for her charity work relating to cancer, has caused diplomatic chaos because she had to be provided with a separate entourage during her time in New York – stretching the capacity of the South African embassy.

She spent the day at the UN headquarters, where a meeting was held to discuss the scourge of non-communicable diseases.

At this session, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe asked developed countries to give African countries the opportunity to manufacture generic medicines locally to more effectively curb the effects of diabetes and hypertension.

Although Mugabe approached the podium unaided, he walked slowly and deliberately, as if to show he could cope without help.

He suffers from prostate cancer which his detractors often use to argue his time as president is up.

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