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Zuma: We can't allow racists to take our country backwards

President Jacob Zuma says it’s sad that the racist onslaught has become more direct and they are no longer hidden as was the case in the early years of democracy.

President Jacob Zuma speaks at Chris Hani's memorial service on 10 April 2017. Picture: Louise McAuliffe/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – President Jacob Zuma has urged South Africans not to allow and assist racists to take the country backwards, saying that last week’s marches against him demonstrated the resurgence of racism.

Zuma addressed the 24th anniversary of the South African Communist Party (SACP) leader Chris Hani’s death in Boksburg on Monday.

The struggle icon was shot dead outside his Boksburg home in the run-up to the first democratic elections.

“The marches that took place last week demonstrated that racism is real.”

As opposition parties prepare to march against President Zuma on Wednesday, he is warning South Africans against falling into the trap of helping racists.

“We can’t allow and assist racists to take our country backwards.”

He says people must learn from Hani, who even when disagreeing with leaders, did so respectfully.

“Even when he disagreed, and he disagreed with many because he was an independent thinker, but no one will feel offended when Chris Hani disagreed with you. If anything, you’d persuaded to see the truth.”

The president says it’s sad that the racist onslaught has become more direct and they are no longer hidden as was the case in the early years of democracy.

At the same time, Save SA says President Zuma is disingenuous to say that last week’s anti-Zuma marches had an element of racism.

But Save SA’s Lawson Naidoo has hit back at the president, saying his statements are just an attempt to belittle public opinion about him.

“What a serious accountable leader ought to do to engage with those views that have been raised and expressed by people rather than seeking to once again belittle and undermine the democratic rights of South Africans who protested against him.”

Naidoo says the posters only reflected how far the president’s image has decayed.

“We were not aware of any posters that displayed any racist writing. We’d have had them removed immediately had we seen them. I think the fact is, the president has indeed lost the respect for the people of South Africa.”

WATCH: Zuma's reaction to #AntiZumaMarches

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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