Parliament - There were limits to how far African leaders could prescribe to their peers in the search for African solutions to problems on the continent, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday as he answered questions in Parliament.
In response to a question from the Inkatha Freedom Party, who cited Burundi as an example, Zuma said he had tried to dissuade Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza from seeking a third term but hit a wall when his pleas were ignored.
“Many of us interacted to say that might not help the country. We cannot say there was no effort to solve that African problem. I sent an envoy,” he recalled.
“He said it is not going to cause trouble, he has taken a decision and the constitution is on his side. Once you have reached that stage… when an African leader is not interested, that becomes difficult,” Zuma added.
He said leaders had to respect the sovereignty of other African nations while they tried to resolve problems.
“It does not mean we will solve all matters at the right time… we are not going to ride roughshod over constitutions.”
Zuma said progress in Africa was evident in the fact that coups were no longer the norm
“No military men can take over as they please,” he said.
“There are a few exceptions. Burundi, where even its own regions could not persuade it … but even there the man is not saying he is going to stay forever… he has argued the point through the constitution and the court has supported him.
“We can’t force people, we have to talk to them, nudge them.”