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Nic Dawes, Rapule Tabane11 Mar 2010 16:56
President Jacob Zuma likes his Cape Town offices at Tuinhuys, but not so much that he wants Parliament to stay in the mother city.
He began an interview with the Mail & Guardian this week by gazing out of a window at the spectacular gardens that give the building its name.
“It always gives me a meaning to what one Ugandan told me when I was in Uganda praising the beauty of Uganda. It is beautiful like Victoria Mountains.
So this man very casually said: ‘Oh yes, very beautiful.
“I said: “I don’t know.’ He said, ‘When God was creating the Earth, Uganda was the last place he created. He had extra material and used everything there’.”
Cape Town more beautiful than Uganda
“I said ‘Is that so?’ He said ‘Yes, do you know what happened when he finished?’ I said ‘I don’t know.’ He said, ‘God went to stay in Cape Town’.
“Which was an indication that Cape Town is more beautiful than Uganda. So I always say you can see these are the gardens that my mother used to tell me about; that heaven is nice and green; nice gardens, because God is here.”
Asked whether that meant Parliament should stay in the city, however, he was much more equivocal.
“I am not sure about that. It’s not a good thing to have a thing in two places; it can’t be good. In my view it is very costly. Costly financially, costly with work. I mean, I even say at times the old style was better. [People came from Pretoria for] six months with cats and dogs and everything. We are every week rushing up and down; it’s not right. But once you touch that issue people, particularly Capetonians, freak.”
When it was suggested to him that Cape Town needed Parliament as a connection to the affairs of the rest of the country he replied with a laugh: “So we will give you the African Parliament [currently in temporary premises in Midrand] so you can have the attention of the continent.”
Nic Dawes is the Mail & Guardian's editor-in-chief.
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Rapule Tabane is the Mail & Guardian's politics editor. He sometimes worries that he is a sports fanatic, but is in fact just crazy about Orlando Pirates.
While he used to love reading only fiction, he is now gradually starting to enjoy political biographies. He was a big fan of Barack Obama, but now accepts that even he is only mortal.
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