Zuma meets with political heads

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has described his meeting with political parties in Cape Town as "constructive" and "frank."

He said it was a useful starting point for further engagement.

"While we may not have always agreed with each other on every item, the discussion has enabled us to better understand each other's view," said the President, addressing the media after the interaction.

He felt that party leaders would have gained a better sense of government's approach to critical issues facing the country and continent, while he had gained a greater appreciation of the positions of the parties.

However, all had agreed that they shared a responsibility to the people of this country.

The meeting, widely welcomed by political experts, covered various issues relating to international and local developments.

In his inaugural address earlier this year, Mr Zuma said he had wanted to form a partnership founded on principles of mutual respect and the unfettered expression of different views.

This would, he said at the time, lead to a democratic debate that values diverse views and accommodates dissent.

He said political parties and government shared a common nationhood and a common future. "Whatever our differences, we each need to take responsibility for building that future," he said.

President Zuma added that the parties which had met collectively represented the people of South Africa and had a responsibility to the people who had elected them.

Therefore, it was important for government to accord them the respect and consideration that "we would want to accord to the people they represent."

However, the President was clear that the spirit of cooperation that he was seeking to forge did not stop any of the parties in Parliament from holding the executive to account. "Nor does it prevent them from formulating and promoting their own policies and perspectives."