Zuma calls for peace in Gaza

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has called for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Gaza.

Concluding a speech at the US Chamber of Commerce, which is a stone’s throw from the White House in Washington DC, the City Press reported Zuma said he wanted to “express our outrage at the continued violence that is claiming scores of lives of civilians in Palestine”.

He told those attending the business breakfast today that South Africa added its voice to the UN “in condemning strongly the senseless shelling of civilian shelters by Israel”.

He said the two sides needed to sit and talk to arrive at the two-state solution of Palestine and Israel “living peacefully side by side”.

He said the two would not be able to make each other disappear from the face of the earth by continuing the violence.

“There will never be a military solution… between Israel and Palestine,” he said.

Zuma asked American businesspeople to invest in South Africa and Africa, and to extend for another 15 years the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which is up for renewal next year.

“We strongly believe that by endorsing the extension of Agoa, the US will be promoting African integration, industrialisation and infrastructure development,” he said.

Zuma urged business to get involved in growing economies in Africa.

“Politicians cannot grow economies alone. Business is central to this critical process.”

“The continent boasts a growing GDP per capita, higher disposable income, rapid urbanisation and a large labour pool. It is also a well-known fact that Africa today offers a higher rate of return,” he said.

Zuma outlined South Africa’s R1trn infrastructure investment since 2009 and its R840bn plans for the next three years, and added that the country appreciated US investment.

He said there are about 600 US firms in South Africa, providing around 150 000 full-time jobs and about 75 000 indirect jobs.

Zuma is set to address a National Press Club lunch in Washington DC shortly, but his aides have indicated that he cancelled his attendance of a dinner with CEOs tonight.