US President Barack Obama and South African President Jacob Zuma held a press conference at the Union Buildings in Pretoria during his African tour on Saturday. The tour will see President Obama accepting an honorary degree in Law from the University of Johannesburg, visiting Soweto and eventually ending up in Cape Town. The two presidents took questions from journalists and offered insight into their plans for their respective countries.
President Jacob Zuma responded to a reporter’s question about the values of the ANC by saying that the party would always conduct itself by the values and beliefs of Nelson Mandela who was once a leader of the ANC.
Obama’s visit has been met with mixed public reactions. Some are opposed to him being in the country and fail to see how his visit will benefit the continent. They think that his policies do not have the best interests of the African people at heart. However, President Zuma and others believe that this visit will lead to “increased investment” in South Africa. The main reason for Obama’s visit is to discuss trade policies.
The media briefing was scheduled to last twenty minutes but went on for over an hour. President Obama hailed former President Nelson Mandela as an international inspiration. He added that his thoughts were with the Mandela family. Mandela is still in a critical yet stable condition at the Pretoria Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital. President Obama will not visit Nelson Mandela in hospital but reports say that he will spend time with the Mandela family to offer his support.
Anti-Obama protests are planned to proceed throughout his stay in South Africa. The ANC has distanced itself from the protests though COSATU has been very active. Other groups also joined the protests for different reasons including Obama’s stance on the war and what they call America’s greed for oil.