Zuma dodges questions on ratings downgrade, while riding new train

2017-04-04 13:45
President Jacob Zuma (File: AFP)

President Jacob Zuma (File: AFP)

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Pretoria - Journalists have been blocked from asking President Jacob Zuma any questions about ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the country’s economy on Monday night.

Shortly after taking a ride on a new locomotive launched by Transnet in Pretoria on Tuesday, Zuma remained tight-lipped when asked for comment on the downgrade. Instead, he said the ride on the train was "absolutely wonderful".

His protectors repeatedly told journalists, "no, no, no. There’s no questions here. Let’s move them", as Zuma laughed as he made his way off the train.

After second attempts to try and get a comment from him, reporters were again told that "the president will not be answering any questions, now please move. Give the president some space".

Making his way to the main venue, where he was to give a keynote address, Zuma was again directed away from reporters, who were asked to enter the hall.

Once inside, reporters were moved away from the seats they had taken along one side of the hall, close to the stage. Only photographers and those filming the event were allowed to remain close to the stage.

'Renewed energy'

After delivering his keynote address, Zuma was ushered out of the hall, while everyone remained inside.

During his keynote address, Zuma acknowledged that South Africa was grappling with the effects of a global economic downturn.

He maintained his position that the reason for his reshuffle had been to "add renewed energy" to the Cabinet and to enable young MPs to start gaining experience in positions of leadership.

He said, although political leadership had changed in the finance ministry particularly, government’s overall policy orientation remained the same.

With that in mind, he had instructed new ministers Malusi Gigaba and Sfiso Buthelezi to communicate with the international investor community "urgently", he said.

Gordhan, Jonas praised

"Minister Gigaba and his team will also be reaching out to the international investor community urgently to assure them that South Africa remains a stable, reliable and competitive investment destination.

READ: Zuma ignores junk status, praises Gordhan's maturity

"They will build on the good work that has been done thus far," he said, after praising predecessors Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas for their contribution in the ministry.

He thanked them for their smooth handover to Gigaba and Buthelezi, saying their actions showed "a maturity of leadership within the governing party".

Gigaba and Buthelezi had been tasked with prioritising unity, peace, cohesion and stability within the finance portfolio, Zuma said.

"This will enable all components of the portfolio to focus on the tasks at hand.

"It is also more important than ever now that we unite as a country and work together in light of the unrelenting socio-economic challenges we face," he said. 

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  malusi gigaba  |  economy

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