KAGISO, Gauteng - President Jacob Zuma says attempts to scupper plans to pursue nuclear power are part of a Western plot to control South Africa.
Delivering the OR Tambo Memorial Lecture in Kagiso, the president said a geopolitical tussle for influence in Africa is underway with South Africa being a key battleground.
Zuma also tacitly endorsed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s ANC presidential campaign by saying radical economic transformation is key for South Africa’s survival as a country.
Zuma painted anyone against nuclear energy in South Africa as having sold out to Western interests who've blocked these plans since the dawn of democracy.
According to Zuma, "When we came back to start negotiating, the western countries said we have nuclear weapons and that we should destroy them because the communists aren't supposed to have that power. So do you understand where the nuclear issue comes from? They should not have the nuclear because they are communists. Destroy all the bombs so they don't learn how to use nuclear."
While calling for unity, the president suggested the only real route to economic emancipation is to support the campaign for radical economic transformation - a call associated with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who, he says, has always opposed imperialism.
“We had to negotiate. This was between us and our oppressors, and then came what was called the sunset clauses, I don’t know what that means. I remember very well in one meeting talking about this, a delegation that was part of the negotiations reporting back about the sunset clauses, Nkosazana raised her hand saying if there are sunset clauses there should also be sunrise clauses," said Zuma.
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Zuma also offered an olive branch to tripartite alliance members.
“We must respect the alliance. We shouldn't take it for granted. Don't let our wishes or unhappiness make us feel like we are above the alliance as individuals or groups. The alliance is important and all of us in it must understand that we need each other.”
It was the OR Tambo Memorial Lecture, but the late leader’s name was mentioned only once.
Zuma chose, instead, to give a summary of the political balance of forces and set the scene for a mammoth battle as the ANC hurtles toward its critical elective conference in December.