Sbu Ndebele settling in well in Canberra

2015-05-21 18:11
(File: GCIS)

(File: GCIS)

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Durban - South African High Commissioner to Australia Sbu Ndebele says Canberra is very similar to KwaZulu-Natal’s capital city, Pietermaritzburg.

“Our state home is exactly the same as Parkside state complex that we lived in in Pietermaritzburg,” he said during a telephonic interview.

“From the way it is designed, to the way it is structured. It is just like home and we are settling well.”

On Tuesday, the former correctional services minister officially received his credentials as high commissioner to Australia. This means he is officially recognised as an ambassador in the country.

Ndebele arrived in Canberra in February and received diplomatic immunity.

“This means they can’t just arrest me or give me a fine. I also got a private audience with the governor and his wife where we discussed a lot of things about South Africa and various ways we could improve the relationship between the two countries." 

“We are settling well here. I am especially happy that they speak English and that we can communicate with the locals. It is very much like South Africa.”

He said he had met many expats.

“You know at the end of the day it will never be like home. People in this country respect and are very conscious about time. If they knock off at 17:00, you will see them packing at 16:45. The people are also very conscious of their rights.

“This is a rich country and let me tell you if you can afford a domestic helper then you are rich. The food is pretty much the same as back home, but the level of education is much higher than back home.

“My wife and kids have adjusted well to life here. When you go out into the city, it’s like being in Johannesburg. The cities are very clean here. One thing that often comes up during the parliamentary debates is the environment.”

During a visit to parliament he had found robust engagement, just like in South Africa.

“The big debate is who the country aligns themselves with. They used to align themselves with the United Kingdom, then it was the United States. Now they see themselves as an Asian country.”

He said the country was faced with the same issues as South Africa when it came to immigration.

“They too have people coming on boats trying to get into the country illegally. But this tells us that people are attracted to places where there is development. The standards of living here are high and that is what people are attracted to in this country.”

Another problem, Ndebele said, was drugs.

“There is a major drug problem, but the country takes it very seriously.”

'People don’t play on the roads here'

Ndebele said he had always been impressed by how Australians respected road rules.

“People don’t play on the roads here. During Easter about nine people died and it was a big thing. But I had already heard that the number at home was sitting at about 200 already.”

Ndebele said he was enjoying taking it easy and walked to work.

“My office is about 200m from our home, so I walk to work. I also get a chance to read now, which is something I enjoy doing.”

He was disappointed to hear about the xenophobic outbreaks in April.

“Look, xenophobia is an African problem. It is a problem of development and underdevelopment.

"We need a strategy of dealing with xenophobia because it will always come up. We can’t be our brother’s keeper forever and we can’t be everyone’s uncle. We have our own problems to solve.

“We are free now, let us deal with the issue. That’s all I am saying."

Read more on:    sbu ndebele  |  australia

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