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Zuma: Obama Effectively Using African Background in Engaging Africans

  • Gibbs Dube

President of South Africa Jacob Zuma preparing to speak at the National Press Club, USA.

President of South Africa Jacob Zuma preparing to speak at the National Press Club, USA.

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa says U.S President Barack Obama’s skin color has influenced in his dealings with Africa but could have done more by now to boost the continent’s growth.

Speaking on the sidelines of the on-going US-Africa Leaders, Mr. Zuma said President Obama has carefully used his African background to handle most African affairs.

“But as an individual I would say that that in itself has not helped to some degree because many people had looked at it from that point of view. And therefore it has made him to tread very carefully while handling these matters and I think that a reality.

“I believe he could have done more but I think he was always wary of this fact and therefore he has managed that situation very well.”

Millions of Africans expected the U.S president to immediately address their challenges soon after he was elected the first black American leader in 2008.

Some African nations are accessing U.S. markets under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a piece of legislation allowing them to sell goods to Americans without paying customs duty.

The program that began in 2000 is set to expire next year. South Africa has already said its delegation will push for a 15-year extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

Indications are that billions of dollars in new funding is expected to be announced for Power Africa during the summit.

The United States is expected to unveil nearly $1 billion in business deals, more funding for peacekeeping, and billions of dollars for food and power programs during the summit.

Mr. Zuma also condemned the killing of civilians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict saying there is need for a negotiated settlement.

“We are outraged by the killing of civilians by Israel, some in United Nations shelters. We also condemn the killing of Israeli civilians by Hamas. We call upon the two sides to lay down arms and work towards a negotiated solution that will lead to the internationally recognized and supported two-state solution.”

He said South Africa believes that violence would not solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem.