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NCOP: Zuma challenged to release tax returns

Jacques Pauw's book, _The President's Keepers_, contains allegations against President Jacob Zuma relating to corruption and irregularities in his tax affairs.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma responding to questions in the National Assembly in Parliament. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma has been challenged in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to release his tax returns.

Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament Jacques Julius made the statement during a debate on Thursday afternoon.

“I want to challenge you today Mr President, to prove your innocence. Can you come to the podium later and undertake to release your tax returns so that South Africans do not speak bad about South Africa.”

Investigative journalist Jacques Pauw's book, The President's Keepers, contains allegations against Zuma relating to corruption and irregularities in his tax affairs.

'THE PRESIDENT'S KEEPERS'

Zuma has taken a swipe at those supporting the contents of 'The President's Keepers'.

Zuma said the opposition were relying on books as part of their unrelenting focus on him.

Julius had been waving the book at Zuma while he was delivering his speech.

“The new tendency of carrying books that are written by people who are speculating, [based on] rumours [and] allegations and they actually believe they are tested fact. Why they do so? Because they have nothing to say. So, they’ve got to be mimicking authors who’ve written some books. This country is faced with a big challenge. What do you do with such opposition parties, really?”

RADICAL ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION

At the same time, Zuma says government's policy of radical economic transformation is not mere rhetoric.

Delivering his annual address to the NCOP on Wednesday afternoon, he says it's the only way to totally lift the population out of poverty.

Zuma says despite the country's struggling economy, strides have been made over the past year to improve the lives of poor South Africans.

The president says government remains committed to improving the lives of vulnerable South Africans, particularly in rural areas and radical economic transformation is critical to this goal.

“Radical economic transformation is government policy and arises from the African National Congress and not from outside the country as many rumour mongers claim.”

Zuma says all South Africans must form part of the inclusive economy if their economic situation and that of the country are to improve.

“Radical economic transformation is about changing the status quo in order to promote growth, expansion and sustainability in the economy.”

He says he's confident that government will be able to steer the country in the right direction despite the many challenges and difficulties it faces.

SASSA & FEES COMMISSION

Zuma also touched on two key areas affecting the vulnerable in society: the social grants debacle and the Fees Commission report into Higher Education.

The president says both these matters are receiving his attention.

He says many South Africans would not be able to put food on the table without the assistance of social grants and he's aware of the concern over future of the grant payment system.

“The interministerial committee is seized with the matter to find workable solutions within the timeframes set to ensure the beneficiaries do not suffer.”

Zuma says he's also aware of the anxiety of school leavers about paying for higher education.

He says he's being advised by an interministerial committee and the Presidential Fiscal Committee on the recommendations of the Heher Commission.

“I will be making an announcement soon.”

NON-RACIAL SOCIETY

Zuma says it's of serious concern that some people who marched against farm murders last week, displayed racist apartheid symbols.

He says this behaviour indicated that some still yearned for a past in which black people were subjugated and treated like pariahs.

Zuma says the country still has a long way to go become a non-racial society.

“The department of justice is finalising the legislation to outlaw hate speech and racism as there should be consequences for such unpatriotic and divisive conduct which seeks to take us backward.”

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