Zuma’s Africa gaffe a light moment ‘blown out of context’ – Gwede Mantashe

2013-10-25 18:44

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has defended President Jacob Zuma’s Malawi comments, saying it was a light moment that was “blown out of context”.

Delivering the OR Tambo lecture in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape this afternoon, Mantashe also said the fight about the controversial Gauteng e-tolls was an “imaginary fight”.

“It is not about e-tolls. It’s about the world class infrastructure that you find in Gauteng because the province itself is striving to be world class ... They want to be like Singapore, a one-city province,” Mantashe said.

He said because Gauteng was moving towards being a one-city province it was inevitable that it would have unique features, such as the e-tolls.

Mantashe said working class people were exempted from paying e-tolls and it was the middle class that was affected.

“It is us, the middle class people, who are going to pay for those e-tolls. The working class people are using taxis and buses. They must not be used to fight this struggle because it is not their struggle,” he said, in what could be viewed as a jibe at Cosatu, which has been at the forefront of opposing e-tolls.

Mantashe said President Jacob Zuma, who is due to address the 50th anniversary of the African Union tomorrow in East London, had been misquoted by the media who wanted to report negatively about the country.

“Am not sure if this thing was not blown out of context because you want news … I was not there but when I listen to it he [Zuma] says this and this, there was laughter in the hall ... it’s a light moment, but it becomes news the whole week, because you as journalists look for negative stories.

“We have a good story to tell about this country,” Mantashe said.

Turning to OR Tambo, Mantashe said the former president of the ANC was like Moses who gave the baton to former president Nelson Mandela to deliver his people to the promised land.

He said Tambo was humble, selfless and disciplined and had led the ANC with authority.

“What we should be doing, is to invest time and energy in educating our people to be future leaders and to emulate the leader that was OR Tambo,” Mantashe said.

In a veiled attack on the EFF’s Julius Malema, who goes by the title, “commander-in-chief”, Mantashe said the real commander in chief was Nelson Mandela, “not some small boys in red berets”.

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