Vice-President arrives in South Africa for Prez Zuma's inauguration ceremony

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ON BOARD/ Johannesburg (South Africa), May 9 (ANI): Vice-President Hamid Ansari who arrived on a three-day visit to South Africa, will attend the inauguration ceremony of new South African President Jacob Zuma today.Zuma will be sworn in as independent South Africa's third president today, whose African National Congress (ANC) swept the general elections in the country held on April 22.

Earlier, addressing a news conference onboard in his aircraft, Ansari said India, like the rest of the world, derives great satisfaction with the new president being sworn-in.

"We were one of the pillars of support to the people of South Africa in their struggle against apartheid right through the period pf apartheid. We derive just as the rest of the world derives great satisfaction when the apartheid regime was dismantled. And people got a chance to elect their own representative government. You have seen that South Africa has been through a normal democratic process again and again. That's another reason. It's a functioning democracy, " said Ansari.

Ansari further said his visit is not just political symbolism and is an effort to further strengthen bilateral ties.

"Over the last two years or so bilateral trade has doubled very considerably. There is Indian investment in South Africa. So we are looking at a relationship, which is going to grow and grow in very substantive sects. So it is not just the political symbolism it is a relationship which we feel and South Africans feel that should be invested in," he added.

He also said there is no disagreement between the two countries on the issue of terrorism and how the menace is to be dealt with.

"If there is one subject on which there is international consensus it is the question of terrorism because terrorism is indiscriminate violence. So nobody knows who would be the next victim and under what circumstances. And civilized society cannot function under those conditions. I don't think there is any gap in that perception," said Ansari.

Ansari and his wife Salma Ansari were accorded a red carpet welcome on his arrival at the O R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg by South Africa's Science and Technology Minister, Mosibudi Mangena.

During the visit, Ansari is expected to meet some world leaders who would also assemble in Pretoria to attend the inauguration of Zuma.

Zuma, 67, taking the oath of office was unthinkable during turbulent years when graft and rape charges nearly ruined him, crises that might have buried many politicians.

At the top of Zuma's agenda will be navigating Africa's biggest economy through what could already be its first recession in 17 years.

South Africans respect the ANC for its anti-apartheid struggle but they are growing impatient with a number of problems, which Zuma has promised to tackle.

Zuma is known for his mediation skills, which could help him prevent ANC power struggles, which led dissidents to form a breakaway party.

He was jailed for 10 years under apartheid before going into exile and heading up the ANC's intelligence, struggle credentials that helped his rise to the presidency. (ANI)

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