Durban — Former president Jacob Zuma said the ‘nine wasted years’ utterances by President Cyril Ramaphosa was a false narrative which had to be responded to through a book so that it must remain in the minds of the people longer.
Speaking during the launch of his book, titled “Jacob Zuma Speaks”, in Durban on Friday, Zuma said it was a direct response to Ramaphosa, who said his nine years as the president of the country were a waste.
He said he was taken aback by what the president said, given that he was part of everything that happened in those nine years, as deputy president. Zuma said Ramaphosa was the best person to tell the people what the government had done during those nine years since he was his deputy but decided to call it nine wasted years.
“I did not mind being criticised after leaving the government because it was common everywhere that when the president has left office he would be criticised, but I never expected to be criticised by the person that was my deputy. I initially thought I should ignore this and let it go and would have not bothered to respond if it was said by an ordinary person or some journalist because I would assume that person did not know what he was saying but because it was the country’s number two I felt I should respond to him to correct the false narrative this had created in society that for nine years I did nothing as president,” said Zuma.
He said that he thought of responding through a statement and talking but realised that it would not be enough since people would forget a few days later and felt he should put his response in a book which people would always refer to for years to come. Zuma also stated that he wanted to respond before he could die because in heaven he would have a problem when Oliver Tambo asked what happened and asked if it was not true why he did not respond and deny it?
The former president urged people to read the book and see how they can contribute to the betterment of the country.
Quoting some excerpts from the book he mentioned his decision to announce free education despite people opposing him. He said he was told there was no money to fund free education but he went ahead in announcing it, telling those who opposed him that the money would come from the Public Investment Corporation – an entity where government employees’ pensions are kept. He said for him it was a fulfilment of the Freedom Charter, which said doors of learning should be open to all.
Other issues raised by Zuma in the book were the importance of the ocean economy and South Africa’s BRICS membership, which he said has the potential to grow the country’s economy. BRICS is an economic bloc of countries which is composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
He said SA stands a good chance of becoming a world player in the UN using Russia and China, who have veto powers in the security council. On the oceans economy, which was also his brainchild, Zuma said there were a lot of economic opportunities lying idle in the sea, adding that by this time he thought there would be a boat from Durban to Richards Bay, saying that would ease road transport congestion and reduce deadly crashes on the N2.
The book was co-authored by Zululand deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Sipho Seepe and Kim Heller, with contributions by JG Foundation chairperson Dudu Myeni. The event was attended by former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and advocate Dali Mpofu, among others.