It hasn’t been President Jacob Zuma’s greatest week. Apart from his hasty removal of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene which caused outrage in his own country, he also made some incorrect geographical claims about Africa that have made headlines around the world.
Just after making the Nene announcement, the South African leader apparently went off script – whilst addressing members of the business community – to talk about how big Africa is.
According to Zuma, Africa is the biggest continent in the world, so big in fact that all the other continents could fit into it.
In fact, Africa is 30.2 million square kilometres versus 44.58 in Asia. In the rambling 50-plus-minute speech, Zuma diverted into numerous areas. In an article that has been passed on widely around the Internet after the speech, author Rian Malan dissects the president’s words, and concludes Zuma is “Going the Full Mugabe”.
Without referring to anyone in particular, Zuma says, “Those you call your enemy can then divide you and use some of us against us.”
He also says, “I am not a businessman or a professor, but I am rebelling against what determines the value of a commodity is the law of supply and demand. I am against that definition. The value of a commodity is the labour time taken in production of that commodity. That’s what determines the value of a commodity.”
(See full video at end.)
Watch the video of a whole new geography:
After South Africans reacted angrily to his shock announcement of Nene’s removal, the Presidency confirmed today that President Zuma made the decision alone (“exercising his prerogative” to not have to discuss appointments with Cabinet) and claimed “the urgency of the changes in the leadership of the National Treasury was occasioned by the need to send nominations to Shanghai, of the head of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank/BRICS Bank, to be based in Johannesburg. Mr Nene is our candidate for this position.” Read the full statement here.