President Jacob Zuma on Sunday reminded South Africans that he is still the president of the country.
“As your shepherd, let me lead you,” Zuma said in isiZulu to more than 10 000 people gathered at a drought relief imbizo at the Melmoth sports grounds in KwaZulu-Natal.
Zuma asked for respect and pleaded for calm in South Africa.
His comments come after calls from opposition parties and influential people for his resignation over the Nkandla debacle.
The Constitutional Court ruled last week that Zuma flouted the Constitution when he failed to comply with the public protector’s remedial action on the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
The court also ruled that the National Assembly acted against the Constitution when they chose to set aside Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report.
Zuma on Friday apologised to the nation in a televised address for the way the matter was handled.
He told the crowd at the imbizo on Sunday that one of the many things that he has been tasked with is to be the president of the country.
“A nation is a nation because of its people… While I still have this responsibility to lead the nation, it does not matter whether you are a Zuma [supporter] or not, at this moment I have been given a task to lead you, let me lead you,” Zuma said to loud cheers.
“I am not going to be in power for long because the years have gone by – don’t be fooled by my good looks. I want peace in the country. There is no president that does not want peace in his country. I also want there to be respect for all. This is not only my wish as the president, it is everyone’s wish.
“Every leader, priest, amakhosi and every elderly person who is a parent wishes for respect. If an elderly [person] does not want respect, there is a problem.”
Zuma encouraged the crowd to go out and vote in the 2016 local government elections.
“Voting is very important. We have a problem as black people. Some people don’t even go out there and vote. Every elderly white person goes out there to vote because they know how important voting is.”
Zuma said the problem with black people was that they suffered together but did not do anything about that suffering.
“We don’t use our vote for our advantage and that is the problem. We all have the same suffering, we are all poor and instead of coming together we do the opposite.
“If we came together we would change a lot of things.”
‘Black votes are important’
Zuma said he was speaking to the gathering as the president of the country and not of the ANC.
“Go and register to vote next weekend. Black people’s votes are very important.”
Zuma touched on the subject of land dispossession.
“There is a matter that black people need to discuss, the Land Act of 1913. We agreed that our land was taken in 1913, that is not true. It was in 1916 something and 17 something.
“According to the Constitution, will we be able to get [that land]. As the president of the country I am talking about the struggles of a black person… Black people [need to] come together and vote for another black person…
“Black people in black parties need to come together otherwise this country will be taken [away] in front of your eyes or they will use others to take it away from you.”