The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Remarks by President Obama and President Zuma of South Africa at Joint Press Conference
Union Building Pretoria, South Africa
11:57 A.M. SAST
PRESIDENT ZUMA: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the media -- good friends also. Mr. President, let me welcome you, your family, and your delegation to South Africa. This is your second visit to South Africa, and your first as President of the United States. We are delighted to host you.
Let me also congratulate you on a reelection as President of the United States. Our talks have taken place against the background of the ill health of our beloved former President Nelson Mandela, the founding President of our democracy, who is much loved by our people and the world. I know that he is your personal hero as well, Mr. President.
The two of you are also bound by history -- as the first black Presidents of your respective countries -- thus, you both carry the dreams of millions of people in Africa and in the diaspora who were previously oppressed. We continue to pray for Madiba’s good health and wellbeing.
As we prepare to celebrate 20 years of freedom and democracy in April next year, we extend our deepest gratitude to the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the United States for solidarity.
Mr. President, as a student you also participated actively in campaigns against apartheid, especially promoting dismantlement and disinvestment from apartheid South Africa of the investments that had been made in the history by the United States.
We are pleased to be working with you today with a common goal of expanding trade relations between our two countries. We are in essence shifting from disinvestment to reinvestment in the era of freedom and democracy.
Mr. President, you are visiting Africa at the right time. Africa is rising. It is the second-fastest growing region after Asia, and has become an attractive for investment, thus the United States’ strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa that you launched last year is well timed to take advantage of this growing market.
We already see immense value in our strategic partnerships such as BRICS and IBSA, and look forward to strengthening the U.S.-Africa partnership. We are pleased with the growing bilateral trade and investment. There are 600 U.S. companies in South Africa, which have created in excess of 150,000 jobs.
The U.S. is also a major export market for South African products. South Africa, in turn, is your biggest market in Africa, accounting for more than 7 billion U.S. dollars of exports.
We affirm the need for the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which expires in 2015. Our mutual trade has reached the levels preceding the global recession largely due to the Act. Arising out of this visit, we would like to see increased investment in the South African economy for mutual benefit. We have placed on the table bankable projects, which range from infrastructure development to skills development for the youth, and also across a number of sectors, like information and communication technologies, agriculture, and the green economy. We have urged that underpinning these investments should be the drive for regional integration, industrialization, and localization of supply and manufacture.
Mr. President, youth development is a key focus area for South Africa given that a third of our population is under the age of 15. This is a key feature of our national development plan. Therefore, we welcome our cooperation in education, especially the School Capacity and Innovation Program, as well as investment in primary education and teacher training. It is also our wish to extend cooperation on vocational training to develop our Further Education and Training Colleges.
We acknowledged the ongoing cooperation in the area of defense under the auspices of the South Africa-U.S. Defense Committee and the training of the security services in crime fighting.
We have lauded the successful health cooperation under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- funding to address HIV and AIDS and other infectious diseases, which has contributed to the successes and increase in life expectancy.
On promoting the African agenda, we reaffirm our common commitment to strengthening democratic governance and advancing the protection of human rights on the continent. We would like to cooperate with the U.S. in enhancing peace building and post-conflict reconstruction and development cooperation, under the umbrella of the United Nations and the African Union.
We are concerned about the mushrooming of rebel movements in some countries in the continent. There are times when the AU is promoting adherence to its policy of zero tolerance for people who come to office through unconstitutional means. This is a threat to our hard-won peace in many countries in the continent.
Mr. President, we are encouraged by the relaxation of sanctions on Zimbabwe by the U.S. government, and urge further steps in this regard as it will strengthen the economy of Zimbabwe. We are hopeful that the African Union, with the support of the international community, will find solutions to the challenges we face in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Niger, and Central African Republic and Somalia.
Solutions that are African-led will be able to yield results. The problems in the Sahel region arise primarily from the manner in which the U.N. Security Council handled the Libyan situation. There are lessons to be learned in the episode. We have talked about this in our meeting.
Mr. President, South Africa remains concerned at the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process. We unequivocally support the Palestinian bid for statehood, and believe in the principle of a two-state solution. We have noted your latest attempts to revive the stalled negotiations, and you have our support in this regard.
At the same time, we are of the view that a lasting peace in the Middle East would not be possible without addressing the other ongoing conflicts in the region, which are a source of much insecurity and instability. We are encouraged by the positive steps you have taken, Mr. President, to relax longstanding restrictions on Cuba. I further urge you, Mr. President, in light of the economic and financial challenges in the U.S. and in the eurozone to encourage our traditional supporters not to abandon their pledges to Africa.
Let me also add that the reform of the United Nations Security Council is long overdue and remains a high priority to South Africa, the African continent and the developing world as a whole.
Finally, Mr. President, I wish to reiterate South Africa’s commitment to the relationship with the USA. I’m happy that you will visit Robben Island during your visit, which was home to Madiba and many Freedom Fighters in our country for decades.
I wish you a pleasant and productive stay in South Africa for the remainder of your visit. We are truly honored to host you, Mr. President. And I thank you. I now invite you, Mr. President, to address the media. You have the floor.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, thank you so much, Mr. President, for your generous words and your kind welcome. It is wonderful to be back in South Africa. As you mentioned, I had the pleasure of visiting South Africa before when I was a U.S. senator. Michelle and our daughters were here just two years ago. And we’re now thrilled to be back as a family.
And I know that the press corps, by the way, is happy to be here because this is much more elegant than the White House press room. (Laughter.) It’s a big improvement.
I have to begin, of course, by saying that our thoughts -- and those of Americans and people all around the world -- are with Nelson Mandela and his family, and all South Africans. The struggle here against apartheid, for freedom; Madiba’s moral courage; this country’s historic transition to a free and democratic nation has been a personal inspiration to me. It has been an inspiration to the world -- and it continues to be. In so many regions that are divided by conflict, sectarian disputes, religious or ethnic wars, to see what happened in South Africa -- the power of principle and people standing up for what’s right I think continues to shine as a beacon.
And so the outpouring of love that we’ve seen in recent days shows that the triumph of Nelson Mandela and this nation speaks to something very deep in the human spirit -- the yearning for justice and dignity that transcends boundaries of race and class and faith and country. That’s what Nelson Mandela represents. That’s what South Africa, at its best, can represent to the world. And that’s what brings me back here, on what will be a two-day trip in which I have an opportunity to meet with a whole range of leaders here in South Africa.
The President and I have enjoyed our company quite a bit in the G20 and in various multilateral forums. Usually, unfortunately, when we’re meeting there is some crisis going on around the world. We had a more leisurely conversation today. And we both agreed that the state of bilateral relations between the United States and South Africa are extraordinarily strong.
As one of the BRICS, South Africa’s growth reflects the new realities of a global economy. And we welcome that; we don’t simply recognize it. That’s one of the reasons why I institutionalized the G20 -- because it reflects the reality of today’s world and today’s economy, and the need for this continent to be represented in any discussions about the direction of the world economy.
So the United States views South Africa as a critical partner. And, Mr. President, I very much appreciate our personal friendship and partnership. As you’ve noted, Africa is on the rise and South Africa is always at the forefront of trends in Africa. I see South Africa as critical to one of my top priorities on this trip -- and that is to promote trade and investment that helps unleash economic growth here in Africa, and ultimately will benefit the United States of America.
We export more products to South Africa than any other nation in sub-Saharan Africa. Hundreds of companies, as you noted, operate here in South Africa. South African companies are investing back in the United States -- like Sasol, with plans for billions of dollars in investment in U.S. energy and manufacturing, including my home state of Illinois. And as the largest economy in the region, growth here can drive growth all across Africa. So I want our countries to be doing more business together.
And one of the things that I’ve said to our press corps during this trip is that, all too often, attention is only paid to Africa when there is a crisis. But, in fact, six of the ten largest economies in the world -- or six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa. There’s enormous progress being made and enormous potential to be made. But obviously we have a lot more work to do, and I think we can do it better together.
Today, almost all of South Africa’s exports to the United States -- 98 percent -- already enter our markets duty-free. And I told President Zuma that I want to renew but also improve and update the African Growth and Opportunity Act so we’re generating more trade and more jobs. I’ve got to be able to show American companies that are operating on a level playing field when they invest or are trying to export into South Africa. So we’re going to make sure that our trade negotiators have a serious conversation about how we get a win-win formula that delivers jobs and opportunity for people here in South Africa and also in the United States.
Our commitment to progress and human dignity extends to our shared efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. Since I took office, we’ve continued the good work of PEPFAR, and we’ve built on it. So, here in South Africa, we’re delivering antiretroviral treatments to 1.6 million people, which along with our prevention efforts is helping to save millions of lives. And I want to commend South Africa for its outstanding leadership on this issue. Within a few years, South Africa will become the first country in Africa to fully manage its HIV care and treatment program, and the United States will increasingly focus on prevention and strengthening public health systems. So this is an example of how rather than a one-way street of aid to Africa, instead this is a partnership of equals working together to solve common challenges. And that’s what we need to see in all areas of endeavor.
We’re working together to advance the dignity of all of our citizens. Since opportunities for women and girls means greater prosperity for everybody, I’m hopeful that we will be able to welcome South Africa to our Equal Futures Partnership -- an effort internationally to make sure that every country is committed to developing the possibilities and opportunities for women and for girls. Some people know that my mother was involved in international development. She taught me when I was very young: You can measure how well a country does by how well it treats its women. If it’s educating its women and giving them opportunities, that country does well. When they do not, that country does not advance. And I believe that.
So I also want to commend your Parliament for passing a landmark law to combat the modern slavery that is human trafficking -- something that is still a crisis around the world.
This afternoon I’ll be in Soweto to announce a major expansion of our initiative to invest in the young Africans who will shape this country, and this continent, for decades to come. And, regionally, I want to thank South Africa for being a leading voice in the African Union -- from promoting peace between Sudan and South Sudan to encouraging economic cooperation across the continent.
As the President mentioned, we discussed the situation in Zimbabwe. And President Zuma has played an important role in the region’s mediation efforts. We agreed that the harassment of citizens and groups needs to stop, and reforms need to move forward so the people of Zimbabwe can cast their votes in elections that are fair, and free, and credible. We also discussed the Congo, where I’ve assigned a new U.S. envoy to the region, Russ Feingold, a former senator and chairman of the Africa committee. He’s going to lead our efforts in support of the framework for peace. And the United States and South Africa agree that all nations should implement the commitments under that framework, quickly, to bring the tragedy of the Congo to an end.
And, finally, as President Zuma mentioned, we discussed a range of global challenges. Our governments don’t agree on every issue; no two countries do. But we’ve seen the progress that we can make together -- on nuclear security, on climate change. Given South Africa’s history and given what it represents to the world, and given the interests we share -- as democracies that believe in constitutions and rule of law, and human rights and the dignities of all people -- I believe that we can stand shoulder to shoulder for issues of security and justice and human rights. And I believe that when the United States and South Africa stand together on an issue in multilateral fora, it’s hard to resist. It’s hard to resist.
So, President Zuma, I want to thank you for welcoming me here today. I want to thank for you for the work that we’ve done together. It is a great joy for me to be visiting and spending time here in South Africa. I’ve had occasion to visit Robben Island myself, but for me to be able to bring my daughters there and teach them the history of that place and this country, and help them to understand not only how those lessons apply to their own lives but also to their responsibilities in the future as citizens of the world, that’s a great privilege and a great honor.
So I thank you. And to all the people of South Africa, there is enormous affection and admiration for you in the United States, and I hope that I adequately express that during my visit.
Q Warm greetings to both Presidents. I’ll ask the questions to both Presidents. Maybe starting with President Obama -- you have come to Africa, to South Africa, of course to boost and strengthen trade. So perhaps someone saying, well, the United States is somehow frightened because there are other players who are coming to Africa, especially China; China is not only coming here in word but also in deed. So is perhaps President Obama not threatened that the leading role that (inaudible) is in Asia?
And the other quick question, President Obama -- South Africa’s bid to U.N. Security Council, should it come, will the United States support it? Is it at the U.N.?
To President Zuma, you, as the leading voice, as President Obama has indicated, on the African continent in trying to bring stability and peace, we have seen some pockets of rebels, as you indicated in Congo, in Mali, and elsewhere. So what sort of assistance, perhaps, have you asked from President Obama -- I mean, as America is one of the advanced countries that can help in many areas? Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I’m here in Africa because I think the United States needs to engage in a continent full of promise and possibility. I think it’s good for the United States, regardless of what others do. I actually welcome the attention that Africa is receiving from countries like China and Brazil, and India, and Turkey -- because, number one, the more interest they show in Africa, the more tools we have and mechanisms we have to further incorporate Africa into the global economy, which has the potential of creating jobs and businesses and opportunity. So I don’t feel threatened by it. I think it’s a good thing.
Now, I do think that it’s important for Africans to make sure that these interactions are good for Africa, because -- let me just take the example of natural resources. I think there’s been a long history of extracting resources from Africa; you take raw materials, you send them to someplace else where they get used, processed, sometimes sold back to Africa. The profits stay there, the jobs stay there, and not much stays in Africa. There’s a long history of that.
Well, the truth is, the United States, at this point, on issues of energy, for example, frankly, we don’t need energy from Africa. Because of advances that have been made, we’re seeing oil production and natural gas production, as well as clean energy production all growing at a rapid rate in the United States.
So our primary interest when it comes to working with Africa on energy issues has to do with how do we power Africa so that it can be an effective market creating jobs and opportunity in Africa, but then we also then have somebody to trade with and sell iPods to, and airplanes, and all kinds of good stuff. (Laughter.)
So when we look at what other countries are doing in Africa, I think our only advice is make sure it’s a good deal for Africa. If somebody says they want to come build something here, are they hiring African workers? If somebody says that they want to help you develop your natural resources, how much of the money is staying in Africa? If they say that they’re very interested in a certain industry, is the manufacturing and value added done in Africa? Are they tolerating corruption that’s not benefiting the people but just benefiting a few at the top in their interactions with African countries?
Those are the questions Africa should be asking. And hopefully, one of the things that we can do is, in our interactions, as a country that doesn’t have a colonial history here, as a country that has made large investments in development on issues like HIV/AIDS, hopefully we can garner some trust when people ask us what are the kinds of development strategies that are going to be sustaining over the long term.
But, as I said, I want everybody playing in Africa. The more, the merrier. I think that’s good. And it gives Africans leverage, which I think is useful. But again, ask those questions; don’t just assume that folks come here and they’re automatically benefiting Africans. And that includes that United States. Ask questions in terms of what we do.
With respect to the United Nations, President Zuma and I discussed the fact that just as I wanted to institutionalize the G20 because it’s more reflective of the world, I think the United Nations structure -- which was created post-World War II -- is going to have to be updated. How we do that, in what fashion, is complicated. It’s difficult. And it involves all kinds of politics. I will say this -- that an expansion of, let’s say, the Security Council, in which the continent of Africa had no representation would be odd. But how that moves forward is something that I think will involve a lot of negotiations and a lot of discussions.
And the one thing that I shared with President Zuma is everybody wants a seat at the table, but when it comes time to step up and show responsibility, sometimes people want to be free riders. They love sitting around the table deciding what to do, except when it comes to bearing the burdens, bearing the costs, sometimes sharing the blame for difficult decisions that have to be made, then suddenly, well, I’m neutral, I’m not aligned. Don’t ask me to -- I’m not referring to South Africa particularly -- I’m just saying, countries generally like the idea of being part of foras, but one of the things that the United States has done -- and obviously we’re not perfect -- but our seat at the table comes by virtue of the fact that we bear a lot of responsibility.
If there’s a crisis in the world, people ask us, what are you doing about it? They ask, why haven’t you intervened militarily? You’re letting people die. And if we intervene militarily, they ask, why did you intervene militarily? They ask us to foot the bill -- and the expectation is, why aren’t you footing the bill? If there’s poverty or crisis or a humanitarian disaster, the natural expectation immediately is, what’s the United States doing?
Now, we shoulder that burden gladly. We think that’s part of our responsibilities. We have been incredibly blessed. But the simple point I make -- and I say this everywhere I go -- is with rights come responsibilities and burdens, and it’s not always comfortable, and you can’t always make everybody happy. It’s like being President of a country. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT ZUMA: (Laughter.) Absolutely.
Well, thank you very much. Firstly, the question of Africa and its history and the developments globally I think should be taken for what they are -- without assumptions. Today we are talking about the globalized world. If the world is globalizing, why should there be a question about Africa -- that Africa must remain somewhere, when everybody is working together really?
I think since the end of the Cold War, the world is working together. There is no country that is isolated. China has a lot of relations with the UK, USA, Africa as a region. Why must it be singled out for some views, so to speak? I don’t think in my own understanding, much as the question understandable, but I think it’s being unfair to Africa. Why should Africa be told to whom it must have relations with, and not this one and that one? I don’t think that talks to our acceptance of globalization. We’re globalizing, and Africa must be part of globalization. And you can’t say we are globalizing because we have relations with certain regions, not other regions; and if we have relations with other regions then we are questioned. Nor do I think countries that come to interact with Africa should be questioned -- why are you doing it?
I think it is in the nature of globalization that, in fact, Africa is saying it can no longer be bypassed by events that change the world. We are part of it. And that’s why we relate to the bigger countries, bigger economies. We want the relationship, as President Obama was saying, that benefits both. Because, historically, the kind of relations we had with other regions were one-sided. All what the President was saying -- that we want localization to be taken into account, whoever is trying to make relations with us, beneficiation of our resources so that they benefit us.
We ourselves, as another kind of area, we have said we need to do trade among ourselves -- intra-trade in continent of Africa, where are putting our five economic regions together so that we work as a continent together. We are having massive program in terms of the infrastructure to implement what you’re talking about, to create that necessary platform, so that whoever comes to invest we don’t ask, are you an American, are you Chinese -- no. We enter into the relationship that must benefit both. And I’m happy that the United States shares that view as well.
So that is how these interactions are interpreted insofar as the African continent is concerned. We have been growing to speak with one voice, and we are now speaking in one voice as a continent. And that’s why we look at those who tried to put one country (inaudible). That’s why even in the relation that we have with other regions, we are trying to do them as a unit, as an entity, as a region, rather than as individual countries. So that’s what is happening.
So we don’t regard to those who come to us that they’re coming here because of other reasons that we don’t know. We take them genuinely that you’re establishing relations that must benefit us, who must also appreciate the history of the continent where we come from -- why we are lacking behind, what is that they could do to help us in terms of the relationships that we have to move forward as well.
With regard to the issue of United Nations Security Council, I again agree with the President that really this institution was done in the mid-40s, when many countries did not exist; they did not participate in drawing up the rules and regulations. Things have changed. The world is different today. We can’t continue with those kind of conditions. It does not reflect the reality of what is happening today. And that’s why we believe each and every region must be represented at all levels so that we can be part of decision-making in this international important body.
So the process is important that it is looked at, but also should be realistic -- because, again, once we say we need that, as the President was saying, we don’t want people who are just going to come and sit there -- countries must be looked at, or regions. Why should countries be members of this important body that take financial decision? Do they have a contribution to make? What is it that is going to be used as a criteria for countries, individual countries, let alone the regions, as to why this particular country must be a member?
Those are matters I think those who are in the national -- or the AU and national security council -- U.N. Security Council, rather, they must begin to discuss those matters. What is it that you are going to say are important criteria to say this country can come so that we help the process? Because if big countries are not talking about it, you then allow the process to stay there and people saying all sorts of things. Even the smallest countries, they have got the right to say something. But they may be expecting to be there and they may have no contribution to make. I’m not saying other countries can’t -- they can -- but we are talking about an institution that take very decisive decisions about the life of this globe.
So I’m just saying I would be happy if this matter is pushed quicker so that final decisions are taken.
On question regarding whether we discussed what the United States could do to help Africa and the processes that it is trying to help itself economically, security situation, et cetera -- we discussed that and we have agreed. And I’m very happy -- their agreement is very clear -- that Africa has said we need the Africa-led kind of processes, and that others should help support that process. And we are at one with President Obama on that one, and it’s absolutely correct, so that we should be supported.
We are looking at very specific things. One of them is the issue, for example, of this new trend of rebels in the continent. We need to do something to stop it -- because if it’s not stopped, it could be another huge chapter, like the chapter of coups in Africa, and we want to nip it in the bud. And therefore, the last summit of the AU took a decision and asked countries to volunteer -- who could be part of a standby force to act immediately if there is an action, to deal with it. And we would want big countries like the United States to support us in those kinds of actions. And I think we are in agreement with that one.
Thank you very much.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to first see if you could comment on the situation in Egypt and the U.S. concern about protests there. And also, politics in Kenya appear to have affected your ability to travel there just -- family ties. Can you reflect personally on not being able to go to the country where your father was born? And what does a situation in Kenya and in places like Zimbabwe say about the difficulties of fulfilling Nelson Mandela’s vision for democracy on the continent?
And President Zuma, a similar question for you. Given your country’s high unemployment and other social challenges, is the ANC in its current form living up to Mandela’s legacy?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, on Egypt, obviously we’re all looking at the situation there with concern. The United States has supported democracy in Egypt. It has been challenging given that there is not a tradition of democracy in Egypt. And the Egyptian people have been finding their way.
Our most immediate concern with respect to protests this weekend have to do with our embassies and consulates. And so we have been in direct contact with the Egyptian government, and we have done a whole range of planning to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to keep our embassies and consulate protected, and our diplomats and personnel there safe.
But, more broadly, what we’ve said publicly and what we’ve said privately is that we support peaceful process -- or peaceful protests and peaceful methods of bringing about change in Egypt. I think every party has to denounce violence. We’d like to see the opposition and President Morsi engaged in a more constructive conversation around how they move their country forward, because nobody is benefiting from the current stalemate that exists there.
And we do not take sides in terms of who should be elected by the Egyptian people. We do take sides in terms of observing a process for democracy and rule of law. And that all the players there engage in the necessary tough compromises so that they can start focusing on the things that probably matter most to the ordinary Egyptian, which is jobs, energy costs, food costs, housing, schooling for their kids, creating economic opportunity. And Egypt, I think, for the last year and a half, two years, has had great difficult focusing on those vital issues.
So, again, top priority: Making sure that our embassies and consulates are prepared for this wave of protests. Number two, we are supportive of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly inside of Egypt, but we would urge all parties to make sure that they’re not engaging in violence, and that police and military are showing appropriate restraint. And number three, how do we make sure that we get this political process back on track. And that’s a difficult and challenging situation. But Egypt is the largest country in the Arab world, and I think the entire region is concerned that if Egypt continues with this constant instability, that that has adverse effects more broadly.
Your second question -- Kenya. There has just been an election in Kenya that thankfully did not see the same kind of violence as the previous election; a newly installed President, but let’s be honest, a situation in which this new government was still working out issues with the international community, in part dating back to the previous election. And the timing was not right for me as the President of the United States to be visiting Kenya when those issues are still being worked on and, hopefully, at some point resolved. And we believe that Kenya needs to abide by various international commitments that it’s made.
Having said that, Kenya is one of our oldest partners in the continent. We have outstanding bilateral relations. The people-to-people contacts between the United States and Kenya remain extraordinarily strong. We work with them on all sorts of issues -- economic, security, youth exchanges -- you name it. And that will continue.
And my personal ties to the people of Kenya by definition are going to be strong and will stay strong. And I have been to Kenya multiple times in the past, and I expect I will be in Kenya multiple times in the future, and will continue to be deeply concerned with the progress that’s made in that country. And I think it has enormous potential. Kenya is like South Africa -- this is a country blessed with incredible resources, incredible beauty, brilliant people. There have been times in the past where government held back progress, and then sometimes ethnic conflict held back progress. And obviously, prior to that, colonialism and racism sometimes held back progress.
But the future for Kenya, like the future of the continent, is potentially bright, and the United States wants to be a partner in that process.
Did you have a third question for me?
Q How the situation in Kenya and also in places like Zimbabwe, will they speak to (inaudible)?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, absolutely. Look, Nelson Mandela showed what is possible, and the people of South Africa have shown what’s possible when a priority is placed on constitutions, and rule of law, and respect for human dignity, and that all people are treated equally, and that we rise above our parochial concerns. And what Nelson Mandela also stood for is the recognition that the wellbeing of a country is more important than the interest of any one person.
One of the reasons that George Washington is our most-admired President is because after two terms he said, enough, I’m going to back to being a citizen. And if you look at U.S. history, there was no rule at the time in the Constitution, there were no term limits. And he was so popular, he could have easily been President of the United States for life, but he said, I’m a citizen; I served my time, I engaged my service, and then it’s time for the next person -- because that’s what a democracy is about.
And Nelson Mandela, similarly, I think was able to recognize, despite how revered he was, that part of this transition process was to make sure that it was bigger than just one person -- even one of the greatest people in history. What an incredible lesson that is. And so I think for the entire continent, for every leaders -- not just in Africa -- for every leader around the world to think about those principles, that governance for the people has to be based on constitutions and rules in which every person is treated equally and nobody is above the law; and that we as leaders, we occupy these spaces temporarily, and we don’t get so deluded that we start thinking that the fate of our countries depends on how long we stay in office.
When you have that as a foundation, and then you start building in transparency and accountability, and good governance and delivering services for people, then you’ve got a recipe for success. And the economy then starts booming and the private sector starts being effective. And so my hope would be that every country around the world, but certainly in Africa, can benefit from those lessons.
If you look at Zimbabwe, it used to be one of the wealthiest countries on the continent. And that governance has led to an economic disaster. It’s not starting to come back. And thanks to the work of people like President Zuma, there’s an opportunity now to move into a new phase where perhaps Zimbabwe can finally achieve all its promise. But that requires fair and free elections, and it requires those currently in power in Zimbabwe to recognize that the interest of all people have to be served there.
PRESIDENT ZUMA: With regard to the question directed to me -- whether the ANC government is still in keeping with Mandela’s beliefs -- absolutely, yes. I know that people at times forget that we have not changed policy -- we are pursuing policies that we’re crafted together with Mandela as we started our democracy in 1994.
What we’ve been doing is to enhance those policies, deepen them. And I believe if you look at South Africa, and perhaps if you take the continent of Africa, in 19 years we have made such progress that no country in the continent has ever made in the history of decolonization. And I’ve had an opportunity, perhaps because of the job that I’ve been given, that when Madiba was --- sitting at his home, I visited him very regularly, firstly to report to him as one of the leaders of the ANC, but also to check how he feels about the situation. He has been expressing happiness -- actually commending what has been done in terms of this government that he started.
So I have no doubt that what we’ve been doing is part of what Mandela would be doing if he was here. You know, when people at times we forget, they’ve been criticizing our economic policies of mixed economy. It is actually Mandela who led us into that policy -- the mixed economy. And others says, look, Mandela was for nationalization of X,Y,Z. Mandela debated that issue in the circumstances and said this is the route to take. So we are pursuing the dreams and policies that Mandela was part of, and we’ll continue to do so.
We’re happy. He is happy. In fact, on some of the visits I made before his health changed, he was saying, you know, when I go to sleep I will be very happy, because I know that I left South Africa moving forward. So other people could have other views, but Mandela has a clear view that we are together on these issues. He has never been afraid to debate issues, even if it was out of government, when he must have felt something has not been done properly.
So we are happy as government, as the ANC, that we are moving in the footsteps of former President Mandela.
Thank you very much.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. President Zuma, thank you for being a great host. And I wonder if you can give us any news overnight, any update on President Mandela’s health that you may know about. And I wonder if you can -- you mentioned the shared history of President Obama and President Mandela -- first black President of each nation. What do you think President Obama’s legacy in this continent in future years will be?
And, President Obama, you mentioned -- and I think the phrase was, “We occupy these spaces temporarily.” You almost reached six months in your second term. And on foreign policy, you heard about the violence in Egypt, Turkey, Syria. China and Russia -- kind of a complicated relationship right now. How do you prioritize all of that? What are your top two or three foreign policy goals in your final three and a half years?
And on the home front, student loans, gun control, balance a budget deal have been elusive. Are you disappointed? But on immigration reform you’ve cleared one big hurdle in the Senate. But Speaker Boehner is suggesting he’s going to wait a while. Are you going to push him? What’s your next step? Do you push him to deal with this quickly, or are you going to give him more time? Or do you push him quickly to stick to your summer deadline of getting it done by the end of the summer?
PRESIDENT ZUMA: Thank you. Well, the position of former President Mandela in terms of his health, he remains critical but stable. So nothing has changed so far. That’s where the situation is. But we are hoping that it is going to improve. And I think with all the prayers and good wishes that have been made, it certainly must do something. As you have seen even in the country and abroad, everyone is wishing Mandela well, a speedy recovery. And the doctors who are tending to him are doing everything, and these are very excellent doctors who are dealing with him. So we place our hopes as well that they will do better. We hope that very soon he will be out of hospital.
With regard to what do we think will be the legacy of President Obama, I always avoid to talk about legacies of people who are still there, generally. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT ZUMA: People always ask me -- how can I judge my legacy? It’s better judged when a person has done the job. But I think what President Obama is doing right now, I think he’s focused on the continent. And his approach to, in terms of policy, to how will he work together with the continent in terms of helping the continent to move forward as a leading country in the world and as a leading democracy has helped to deepen and enhance democracy in the continent. That, I think, will be an important one.
As you know, the United States has been looked at as a country that could play a role in influencing the proper direction in the continent of Africa. I think that will be a very good legacy -- that when we judge it -- at the right time that we judge it, because at the moment it’s ongoing. But I think that ongoing process, the fact that he has come here, and I think to South Africa, he has, for example, made very objective observation about South Africa. They are unbiased, uninfluenced by anything. He is making very clear. And he, therefore, because of that, he’s clear what kind of relationship we should make with South Africa, with the continent. And that will certainly leave the legacy, and I think it will be a good legacy insofar as the continent of Africa.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Ed, when it comes to foreign policy, there are a whole range of issues that are top priorities. Some of them are proactive; some of them are in response to very tough situations. So first and foremost in my mind is we still have a war going on in Afghanistan, and I’ve still got young men and women there who are making enormous sacrifices, and families back home who are waiting to see their loved ones again. And us managing that transition properly, so that by the end of 2014 our troops are out and we’ve got a stable situation inside of Afghanistan, I think is going to require continued focus and attention.
Keeping the American people safe continues to be an area of focus and attention. And I can’t deviate from that too much. I’ve got to make sure that our team understands those priorities.
But there are also enormous opportunities internationally, and so I’ll just make mention of a couple. Number one is that despite the enormous turmoil in the Middle East -- and we’re going to have to continue to work on Syria; we’re obviously actively monitoring the situation in Egypt; the situation in Libya is challenging -- I continue to believe that this period that we’re going through in the Middle East has the potential to move the Middle East over the long term in a better election, because the past arrangements were not sustainable over the long term.
Democracy is hard. It is messy. And in the Middle East, there are obviously all kinds of sectarians divisions that make it that much more challenging and dangerous. But I continue to believe that we have to invest time, energy, and effort in helping to midwife a more representative and more responsive governing arrangement throughout that region. And if we do that effectively, then the Middle East I think can be part of the world economy and in ways that are more than just how much oil are they producing. And obviously, it would have an impact on the security of the entire world. And that includes, by the way, us continuing to work on peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which I think would change the dynamic in the region, and certainly how much leverage we have on some of these other issues.
It includes dealing with Iran and their nuclear program. If we can get Iran, which now has a new President, to recognize the need for negotiations, and a diplomatic resolution whereby there have peaceful nuclear power, like South Africa does, without nuclear weapons, and can give the international community confidence on that -- that would change the dynamic in the region again. So that continues to be important.
And then there are going to be some multilateral issues. Africa -- we’re here, and one of the things that I’ve said is I want to see greater trade, not just aid; African-led economic growth as opposed to outsiders dictating to Africa how it can grow. But we have an important role to play. The Food for the Future, and Food Security Alliance that we highlighted when we were in Senegal -- you’ve got 7 million small farmers all across Africa who are now being empowered to increase yields and productivity, get their products to market, connect with Internet lines and wireless so that they can get fair prices that they can then reinvest in buying tractors, which further increases yield, which then means you’re creating a middle class. And now shopkeepers have people who can buy their goods, and slowly Africa is growing. We now have nine countries across the continent who are participating, and we’re already seeing enormous benefits and an increase of about $150 million in incomes and revenues for those who are participating. That’s the kind of thing that America can do well.
And, yes, we’re putting money into it, but we’re also listening and working with Africans to partner with them in a more effective way. And we intend to do the same thing on power -- something that we’ve been hearing all across the region. The whole issue of intra-African trade -- how can we help to build infrastructure through the continent. We’ll partner with the Chinese -- the young man who was asking that question earlier -- we’ll be happy to work with anybody around intra-Africa trade. And that’s an example of where we want to partner with Africa, we want to partner with others who want to help Africa, but we want to make sure that it’s done to benefit Africa.
And I think that as much as the security issues in my foreign policy take up a lot of my time, I get a lot of more pleasure from listening to a small farmer say that she went from one hectare to sixteen hectares, and has doubled her income. That’s a lot more satisfying, and that’s the future.
And finally, on domestic policy, on immigration reform, I was very pleased to see the Senate pass it. I called Senators McCain, and Graham, and Schumer and others who were involved to congratulate them for it. I think they worked very hard. It’s not the perfect bill, but it’s consistent with the principles I laid out of strong border security, of reformed legal immigration system, and a pathway to citizenship for those who are currently in undocumented status inside the United States.
Now the ball is in the House’s court. I’ve called both speakers -- Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi, and encouraged them to find a path to get this done. And the framework that the Senate has set up is a sound framework. It doesn’t reflect everything that I would like. Nobody is going to get 100 percent of what they want -- not labor, not business, not the advocates, not me. But the time is right.
And one thing I know about why the United States is admired around the world -- and I think President Zuma would confirm this -- people do recognize that America is a nation of immigrants; that, like South Africa, it is a multiracial and multicultural nation. And that makes it stronger. Our diversity is a source of strength. So we need to get this right. We can be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
And I do urge the House to try to get this done before the August recess. There’s more than enough time. This thing has been debated amply, and they’ve got a bunch of weeks to get it done. And now is the time.
Q Welcome, Mr. President, and thank you for this opportunity. This is a question to both of the Presidents here today. It’s the issue of transitional justice in the International Criminal Court. The United States is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, and yet appears to encourage and push African leaders and African countries to essentially follow the rulings of the International Criminal Court. So the question, President Obama, is how legitimate do you view the international criminal justice system?
And specifically to President Zuma, what can be done to bring about more equity to the international criminal system or justice system? But also, having met, how would you describe the state of the relationship currently between South Africa and the United States? Considering the fact that the United States is the biggest economic power, and South Africa has the largest economy here, can we expect any key initiative coming from both of these countries? Thank you.
PRESIDENT ZUMA: Well, thank you very much. We certainly are saying we want to strengthen our relations as two countries. And I think, as we said earlier, the very visit of President Obama talks to the issue we are raising -- what is that we can do. We are both saying we need to do more. And of course, and I think our private sector are very much aware of this. We are creating the enabling environment that we should grow as much as possible.
Our ministers have been talking, and officials, on specific issues on what is it that we think needs to be done to go forward. We are, for example, expecting the United States companies to invest in what we have here as opportunities. For example, the massive infrastructure opportunities that are here with bankable kind of projects -- those are the kind of opportunities we believe the United States companies will take advantage of. And that will therefore deepen the economy.
On the issue of justice internationally, it’s a very serious matter as viewed by the African countries. As you know, there have been cases where Africa has felt we are being treated unfairly -- because we have also had discussions as to how could we deal with justice, level the playing fields. Africa is, for example, in the process of trying to initiate an interaction with the ICC to discuss specifically those kind of issues.
Our (inaudible) in our relations with the United States, our legal people, in fact, should be given an opportunity to discuss these matters at that level as to how could we bring about equal justice globally. Because it is important that we are seen in action to be treating matters of people, that they’re equal before the law. There is a view in the continent that this is not done. And it may be a subjective view, but there is that view that therefore says countries that are in the leadership should have more interaction to address those matters, because they become very much important.
One of the issues that was asked, for example, was the issue of Kenya -- what is it that must happen there. How do you look at people who are charged -- in other words, who are supposed to answer questions in court, who are not yet convicted -- how do they look like before the law?
Now, we think that the saying is that you are innocent until proven guilty, right? What is the role of the people who are not knowing the law, are not sophisticated, who are given an opportunity to vote and to exercise their vote, which is within their rights, respecting their rights? And they produce a particular verdict. What do you say in terms of the law? Those are the issues we believe need to be looked at, because there are specific circumstances at some point. Because if we are able to discuss those issues and agree, it's not going to be difficult to collaborate if there people, for an example, who must appear before in court, because it would be moving from a particular kind of understanding.
It is also important to remove the perceptions that people could have about certain things. If we don't talk, we don't engage, the perceptions then become an impediment -- whether we could move forward in bringing about equal justice, respect of the law globally, so to speak. I'm just saying, from my point of view, the interaction and the deepening of relations is going to help to deal with those matters -- of course, with people who have expertise on those kind of matters. I don't think they are matters that cannot be resolved. They will be resolved through engagement. Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, when it comes to U.S.-South Africa relations, as I said, I think the bilateral relationship is very strong. What we've agreed to is that we have to do a better job communicating on multinational issues to make sure that we anticipate potential areas of tension, that we understand ourselves clearly, that sometimes it's important for us to be able to express to each other the way in which history shapes how we view some of these issues. And I think the more dialogue we have on those issues I think because we are democracies that stand for human rights and stand for certain principles, the truth is we should be aligned internationally.
But the bilateral relationship is strong. I just want to make sure it's stronger. I think that on issues like HIV/AIDS, where we're now transitioning building capacity, South Africa is stepping up and doing tremendous work. That's a perfect model for how you can have an effective partnership.
On trade and investment, we can do more. There's more business to be done. And I'm confident that we're moving in the right track. I just want to accelerate it a little bit more, partly because, as Ed Henry pointed out, I only have three and a half years left. (Laughter.) I want to try to get as much done as possible.
On the issue of international justice, it's true the United States is not a signatory, but we've been very supportive of the International Criminal Court. Obviously, it is a difficult thing. We don't have a single world government. You don’t have a single world police force. And yet, I think it was created and the idea of international justice was created, for those extraordinary circumstances in which you see a leader operating in ways that is so contrary to international norms and basic beliefs that we have about the dignity of people that the international community sees the need to speak and to render judgment -- in part to prevent that kind of action from taking place in the future, in part to put leaders on notice that they can't simply act with impunity simply because they control the biggest military or the biggest faction inside their country. That does not give them license to do whatever they please. And I think that principle is important to uphold.
I know that there's been talk about, well, does the ICC pick on Africa? But, truthfully, probably the most high-profile work that the ICC has done actually had to do with the situation in Serbia and the Balkans, and Kosovo and Bosnia. And so I'm confident that in fact the ICC is not thinking simply regionally on these issues.
I do share with President Zuma however, the notion that if that's a perception inside of Africa, then it's useful for the African Union -- and as a disinterested organization in the sense that it's not just representing one country or one individual -- to be able to have constructive conversations with the ICC to see if some of those perceptions can be dissipated. I would caution though that you wouldn't want, in the name of African unity, to be trying to water down principles that then allow a Charles Taylor, let's say, to engage in the kinds of actions that he did. That was brutal and inexcusable. And to the extent that the notion was that actions like those of slaughtering people and unleashing troops to rape and pillage with impunity that somehow you can get away with that, that's not good for Africa. And the African Union should find a way, as President Zuma indicated, to allay some of these concerns, perhaps get a greater sense of consistency or transparency or clarity in terms of how the ICC is operating. But don't lose that basic sense that we're all accountable in some fashion to the basic precepts that our countries respectively are founded on.
Thank you very much.
END 1:18 P.M. SAST