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Image: Felipe Dana/AP/PA

Zuma: I'm not racist, white people won't be chased out of South Africa

However he said would never stop talking about history because children should know the country’s past to ensure that mistakes were not repeated.
Feb 19th 2015, 6:14 PM 9,777 42

SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma today denied that he was racist and assured white people that they should not fear being “chased” out of Nelson Mandela’s “Rainbow Nation”.

The president also said that a new law preventing foreign ownership of land in South Africa applied only to agricultural properties and not to private residences.

Zuma was reacting to concerns raised by some white South Africans after he told a rally of his ruling African National Congress that all the country’s troubles began when the first white settlers landed more than 300 years ago.

“South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white,” he told parliament, quoting the ANC’s Freedom Charter, which was adopted during the fight to end the white racist system of apartheid.

Breaking away from his written speech in response to debate on his state of the nation address last week, he said: “We are a rainbow nation, nobody will chase you away. There should be no fear.”

But, he said, he would never stop talking about history because South Africa’s children should know the country’s past to ensure that mistakes were not repeated.

Zuma’s off-the-cuff remarks won enthusiastic applause.

It was a redemption of a kind for the president, who has been under fire over the past week since security forces were called into parliament to evict lawmakers who disrupted his annual address by accusing him of corruption.

He said the government was committed to freedom of speech and pledged that the cutting of mobile phone signals in parliament ahead of his address — a move which infuriated reporters and opposition lawmakers — would never happen again.

- © AFP 2015.

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