The ANC will continue to defend minorities, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.
Responding to debate on his state-of-the-nation address, Zuma criticised Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder, who on Wednesday warned Zuma he was playing with fire by singling out minorities.
“I fight against those who suppress minorities,” Zuma told the joint sitting.
The president said the ANC remained bound to the principles espoused by the country’s first democratically-elected president, Nelson Mandela.
“When arrested by the white oppressor he [Mandela] told them in court: ‘I have fought against white domination. I have fought against black domination,” Zuma said.
“What we do in government is informed by those principles and policies.”
Pointing at Mulder, Zuma said the ANC would never chase white people out of the country.
At the same time Zuma remained unapologetic about remarks he made last month at an ANC fund-raiser in Cape Town, where he said “all the trouble began” in 1652 when Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape.
“Our children must know where we come from so that coming generations should not repeat the mistakes of the past,” he said.
During Wednesday’s debate Mulder accused Zuma and his party of resorting to “scapegoat politics” to stem their support losses.
“The honourable president says a man called Jan van Riebeeck arrived here, and that was the start of problems in the country. I can prove the president is wrong. But what did he say in plain language? He said, when white people arrived here the trouble started.
“What is the understanding of ordinary ANC supporters? They understand that if one gets rid of the white man, all problems are solved. Get rid of the cockroaches and all problems go away.”
He questioned the ANC’s commitment to the Constitution, and whether the ruling party would hand over power peacefully if it lost an election.
“Does the ANC really believe in the Constitution and democratic principles? I say no.”
He told Zuma: “You are currently the problem. Please leave scapegoat politics. Respect democratic values and stop attacking and driving me, as an Afrikaner, and other groups away.” SAPA