South Africa President Jacob Zuma
Parliament - In his televised annual address to Parliament's National Council of Provinces (NCOP), President Jacob Zuma on Thursday called on South Africans to be patriotic and not criticise their country.

"We have a responsibility to promote our country externally and to solve whatever problems we have internally in a patriotic and responsible manner," Zuma said in the NCOP chamber.

"Attacking South Africa and bad-mouthing the country when she is most vulnerable is irresponsible, especially if done by South Africans themselves."

The President went on to list free services provided by government to the poor, including social grants, free and subsidised housing and healthcare, free basic education for poor children and free municipal services, as being among government's achievements.

Poverty, said Zuma, was a result of the difficult economic climate and the legacy of apartheid "which has created a huge gap between the rich and the poor".

"We know that many among the privileged classes become angry when we speak about the reality of the apartheid legacy as they want it to be forgotten. We will continue to work hard to reverse the horrible impact of this legacy," he said.

"It is correct that the income level of a white household remains six times higher than that of a black household. Together, we must fight and defeat this inequality as it seriously affects our path towards reconciliation, improving living conditions."

African News Agency