We are not back to apartheid - Zuma

President Jacob Zuma said it is unfair to criticise South Africa because of one tragic incident.

President Jacob Zuma addresses workers in Marikana, on 22 August 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday reacted to recent criticism about the current state of the country, by assuring citizens that the situation was not regressing back to apartheid.

He made the comments during a speech at the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament, Cape Town.

The president acknowledged that deep-seated poverty and inequality led to social unrest and discussed the Marikana shooting.

Some 34 Lonmin mineworkers were killed on August 16 during a stand-off with police at the North West mining town.

The employees were demonstrating over wages.

Zuma sympathised with the victims, but said a single incident should not be a blight on the country's reputation.

"Let us not be misled, pushed and persuaded to think that we are now back to apartheid, we are not. One incident cannot mean that our system is one that kills people."

A recent article in the Economist spurred debate about the current state of South Africa.

The story was critical of Zuma's leadership and post-apartheid South Africa.

The article comes on the back of widespread wildcat strikes which saw thousands of miners being dismissed.