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05 May 2009 15:55
The African National Congress (ANC) has heaped praise on its leader Jacob Zuma, who is to be elected South Africa’s next president in the National Assembly’s first meeting on Wednesday.
He will be inaugurated on Saturday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
In a statement on Tuesday, the ANC said it “has been a long road for Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma”, born in 1942 in Inkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, to Gcinamazwi and Nokubhekisisa Zuma.
His father gave all his children names that expressed his mood and feelings during the period of their birth, the ANC said.
Writing in his autobiography, which was expected to be published before the end of 2009, Zuma said: “For reasons only known to him, and it’s a story we never got to know, he said in Zulu: ‘Ngeke ngithule umuntu engigedla engihlekisa! (I will not keep quiet when a person pretends to like me when he doesn’t)’.
“Thus Joseph’s name is Ngekengithule and mine Gedleyihlekisa, with the name given to me by my mother being Mhlanganyelwa. It perhaps all makes sense now, for the literal meaning of the name is when people conspire or gang up against you!” Zuma wrote.
The ANC said Zuma was a leader with outstanding qualities, renowned for his “legendary patience and his listening, consensus-seeking and conflict-prevention skills”.
He was respected for his ability to make all individuals who touched his life feel valued and important.
Zuma motivated people and enabled them to realise their potential and contribute to the country and the organisation, the party said.
Zuma, a “consummate political strategist”, faced the task of taking South Africa forward in the next phase of its freedom, during which it was necessary to enhance service delivery and improve government performance.
“He will need to lead the country in ensuring that the policies developed over the past 15 years meaningfully improve the lives of the poor.”
Born and bred in the countryside, Zuma had a passion for rural development.
“It is his wish that his presidency should result in a huge difference in the lives of people residing in rural areas, with faster delivery of water, electricity, quality education, health facilities and income-generating activities.”
The ANC said Zuma had gone through a “difficult period, facing accusations of corruption, during which he faced an ongoing trial by the media”.
“Over the course of eight years, his rights, privacy and dignity were repeatedly violations,” the party said.
“The accusations arose out of his relationship with friend and comrade, Schabir Shaik, who was his financial adviser.
The ANC said this relationship had been frequently misrepresented.
“The plight of returning exiles forced them to seek financial support from friends and relatives.
In the case of Shaik, Zuma solicited a loan with an undertaking to repay, which Zuma has started to do,” the party said.
“Despite the fact that Zuma had no involvement in the arms deal, and had no power to ‘protect’ companies involved in the deal, prosecutors tried to link the loan to the arms deal.”
Zuma had consistently maintained his innocence, insisting that the charges were politically motivated.
Despite much adversity, Zuma had “prevailed by maintaining a positive outlook, an inner strength and the ability to remain focused on doing what he believes is right”.
Zuma’s wishes were “the unity of all South Africans, black and white, better quality education and health care, safer communities with less crime, more decent jobs and well-developed rural areas, a better Africa and a better world”.
“Zuma is married to Sizakele [MaKhumalo], Nompumelelo [MaNtuli] and Tobeka Madiba.
The ANC said Zuma loved sports, especially soccer and rugby and was a keen soccer player in his youth.
It added: “He dabbled in ballroom dancing on Robben Island. South Africans know and love him for his prowess on the dance floor and his impeccable vocal chords.”—Sapa
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