The Presidency has noted reports in certain media, suggesting that President Jacob Zuma insunuated that Africans were backward and that they should stop thinking like "Africans in Africa and accept that Gauteng roads were not like some national road in Malawi or Pietermaritzburg or Rustenberg."
The words have regrettably been taken out of context and blown completely out of proportion.
President Zuma yesterday, in his capacity as President of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), addressed the Gauteng ANC Manifesto Forum at the Wits University Great Hall in Johannesburg, where he remarked on a wide range of issues including policies of the ANC on the economy, the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, youth employment, the National Development Plan and the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, which among other things had necessitated the tolling of the roads.
In particular, the President said: "With regards to road construction, Gauteng has built many kilometres of new 8-10 lane freeways built at a cost of about R20 billion. This is more than our national roads budget for one year. The roads are to be tolled to pay back the money we borrowed to build the freeways. Our policy is that users should pay for extra government expenses."
President Zuma continued: "It is not fair to make the whole of South Africa pay for Gauteng's road use by taxing everyone's petrol more. We thank all citizens who have registered for the e-tolls so that we can continue to improve roads and boost economic growth in Gauteng."
The President then made the example that it was also not fair to expect Gauteng roads to be compared to roads in other towns such as "Pietermaritzburg, Rustenberg, Polokwane or any other town or national road in Malawi as this was Gauteng, the heartbeat of South Africa's economy and an international city of commerce and business".
The remarks were made in the broader context of South Africa achieving more in the past 19 years of freedom and democracy.