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10 Mar 2009 13:31
South Africans need not be concerned about African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma’s low level of formal education, former opposition leader Tony Leon said on Tuesday.
“There is much concern about the fact that the next president of South Africa only has primary school education,” Leon told a leadership conference in Sandton, Johannesburg.
“There might be other reasons to express concern about the next president, but actually his educational disadvantage seems to be utterly irrelevant.”
Leon, the former leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), said “character overcomes qualification”.
He cited examples of several international leaders who were successful despite a lack of academic qualification, including once US president Harry Truman and former British prime ministers Winston Churchill and John Major.
“All these men, like Zuma incidentally, actually were comfortable in their own skin. They were people who knew themselves and their limitations and therefore they were able to make the right judgement calls,” said Leon.
But he added: “I have no idea whether the next president of South Africa will fulfil this requirement.”
‘Zuma can’t be trusted’
But on Saturday DA leader Helen Zille said Zuma cannot be president of the country because he cannot be trusted.
“When voters put politicians in power, they must be able to trust them.
Without trust, democracy goes bust.
“And we know he will, because he stands right in the middle of a closed, boetie-boetie circle, based on mutually reinforcing interests. That always leads to power abuse, and more corruption,” she said.
Zille said this was the same reason that South Africans could not trust Congress of the People premier candidate in the Western Cape, Allan Boesak.
“He [Boesak] has betrayed people’s trust in the past, he stole from the poor to make himself rich. And he isn’t even sorry for what he did. He says he would do it again.” she said.
Zille criticised Boesak for only being “interested in making himself richer, and we know what happens when people like that are put in charge, poor people become poorer”.
Zille also accused Boesak of using funds meant for apartheid victims for himself.
“He spent over R400 000 on his lifestyle of luxury. He put R140 000 towards a fancy house in Vredehoek. He used R120 000 to buy another larney house in Constantia.
“He spent over R30 000 on a trip to Disney Land. And his wife took over R7 000 and spent it on clothes and jewellery. Is Boesak sorry about what he did? No! He has shown no remorse.”
Zille warned that if Zuma became president of the country he would cover up corruption.
“The reasons for Boesak’s pardon were never made public, just like the reasons for Shaik’s parole have not been revealed.
“And just watch, Shaik will be pardoned too. Zuma has already hinted that, should he become president, he will give his friend a presidential pardon,” she said.—Sapa
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