Experts welcome Zuma's meeting with political heads

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pretoria - Political experts have welcomed the move by President Jacob Zuma to meet with political leaders next week, saying it is a positive move for the country's development.

The President announced on Wednesday that he would meet with the leaders of the various political parties on 27 August to discuss development issues and other challenges in the country.

He said it was necessary to have this kind of interaction. "The fact of the matter is that we all want to see South Africa succeeding."

Mr Zuma was speaking following a meeting with the Democratic Alliance's Parliamentary leader, Athol Trollip.

Political analyst, Professor Sipho Seepe, said such meetings would encourage the mutual contribution of the opposition parties.

"Definitely, this will have a positive impact on the development of this country. He is making a statement that everyone must contribute to the development and prosperity of the country. He is inviting everyone to contribute to the nation building process," Seepe told BuaNews.

She said the President was trying to convey the message that wisdom and brilliance were not monopoly of any party, sector or region.

"The President is actually redefining his presidency and making a statement of the type of government he wants to lead."

Professor Steven Friedman, from the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, said by making an appointment to meet with political heads, President Zuma was fulfilling the promise he made in his State of the Nation Address to work well with opposition parties, in the spirit of putting the country first.

"This will create a government whereby opposition parties contribute significantly to the policies of the country, while also maintaining their oppositional role.

"In a democratic system, it is quite necessary to have opposition parties contributing to policies of the state, it could be foreign or domestic policy, but it is quite important for any democratic country," said Friedman.

He added that the President was effectively creating a mutual relationship with political parties, and this would be beneficial as the country wrestles with the effects of the global economic downturn.

"These meetings will possibly help the government develop plans that will recover the economy of the country," he said.

This meeting, and similar one's in the future, will create trust and instill confidence in the President, according to Ipsos Markinor's political analyst Professor Mari Harris.

"This will add significant value to the process of building this nation and to social cohesion. If they implement the agreements discussed at the meeting, we will see a great progress in service delivery," said Professor Harris.