On reelection drive, S.Africa's Zuma comes out swinging

14th June 2013, Comments 0 comments

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma hit out at critics of his ANC government as he went on the campaign trail on Friday in the iconic township of Soweto ahead of 2014 elections.

Zuma, who is vying for a second term in office, went door-to-door in Orlando, the neighbourhood where former president Nelson Mandela used to live, a day after he visited the ailing anti-apartheid icon in hospital.

Zuma used the occasion to slam critics who allege he has mismanaged the economy and allowed labour unrest to fester.

The South Africa economy has been in the doldrums during his four years in office with at least one in four people unemployed and inequality worse than it was two decades ago when apartheid ended.

Zuma launched a robust defence of his adminstration, accusing people of forgetting the scale of the problems he faces.

"They've forgotten that this government is trying to fix problems that have been there for centuries," Zuma told students at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus.

He suggested naysayers were part of the white minority apartheid regime which ended 19 years ago.

"They don't want to talk about the past because they are trying to find fault with those that are in charge today," he said to loud cheers.

Schoolchildren and university students sang songs wherever he went, waving flags in the party's green, black and yellow colours.

"Get well, Mandela, get well!" was a popular chant as the country's 94-year-old first black president marked a week in hospital for a recurrent lung disease.

Main opposition party the Democratic Alliance meanwhile prepared for a big rally in Johannesburg on Saturday as the battle for Africa's richest province geared up.

The ANC won 65.9 percent of votes in 2009 polls.

The DA took 16.7 percent in the previous national elections, but their representation in Gauteng province -- the seat of government -- shot to over 33 percent in municipal vote in 2011.

The state looks set to be a battle ground at the next election.

© 2013 AFP

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