Tutu tells it like it is

2009-04-02 00:00

STRUGGLE stalwart Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu believes the cloud of scandal which hangs over Jacob Zuma makes him unsuitable to be the next president of South Africa.

Speaking at the Durban City Hall last night, Tutu said that while he personally likes Zuma and considers him a warm and friendly man, he finds it difficult to answer questions from people overseas when asked if he thinks Zuma will be the country’s next president.

“In the year of [Barack] Obama, can you imagine what it is like when you are walking in New York and they ask you who will be the next president. I can’t pretend to be looking forward to having him as my president,” he added.

Tutu believes Zuma should stop trying to have the fraud and corruption charges against him quashed and instead have his day in court.

He added: “I hope for his sake we are not going to have a political solution. If he is innocent, then let it be a court of law that says so.”

The Archbishop, who was attending the launch of the Diakonia Council of Churches’ book, Pilgrimage of Hope, accused the government and the country’s ruling elite of arrogance and of failing to listen to what the people of South Africa want.

“It was easy to be against something [during the struggle]. A far more difficult task has been left to you — making a reality of our freedom. So when our new government behaves somewhat strangely, it is very difficult to condemn because it looks like you are unpatriotic. You have a very difficult row to hoe and we are at a bad place right now in our country.

“We imagined that our idealism, our altruism, being concerned about others more than ourselves, would be automatically carried over into the post-apartheid era and we were surprised by how easily we seemed to forget.”

Referring to the recent debacle concerning a visa for the Dalai Lama, Tutu said he was appalled by the way the government treated this respected international peace activist. “When Trevor Manuel tried to justify it and was so sneery, I said ‘Aikhona, This can’t be what we struggled for.’”

His comments come just a day after he publicly defended Health Minister Barbara Hogan at an international Aids conference in Durban for her criticism of the government’s decision.

Tutu added: “What are they doing to our country? They let someone out on parole. I am fond of Tony Yengeni and I’m not saying that anything is wrong, but it is a bit suspicious. Why should someone be carried shoulder high when they have been found guilty of fraud? Are our standards so low?

“Then there’s [Schabir] Shaik. It’s not a laughing matter … it’s people saying ‘go jump in a lake’ if you have objections. Is this why people died, is this why people went into exile, is this why people were tortured?

“I am not political; I’m not looking to be nominated for anything. I just want to spend quality time with my wife. But my heart is sore.

“If people think there is something wrong with the arms deal and they want an inquiry, they are being told by those who know better that there is nothing wrong.

“Why then be scared to have a judicial inquiry? The Scorpions — the people want them but the government says ‘We know better, the Scorpions are no good’.

“This is our country, our beautiful country. Please allow us old people to go to our graves smiling.

Don’t let us go with broken hearts. Please, please, please. We have a fantastic country with fantastic people. Why do you want to spoil it?”

The archbishop was also critical of the way government officials treat people.


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