South African president Jacob Zuma last night stressed the importance of his young compatriots experiencing life in the United Kingdom.

Zuma, on his first official state visit to the UK, told a crowd of about 1000 invited guests at London’s Dorchester Hotel that young South Africans were picking up valuable skills while working in Britain.

A TNT reader who attended said Zuma realised that some young South Africans may never return home but seemed to have a realistic view of how things worked.

“If he gets only half of the doctors, dentists and financial service workers back home then that’ll be a good thing for South Africa,” the reader said.

The reader said he was impressed with Zuma’s ability to make people feel at ease.

“He really lived up to his reputation as the president of the people,” he said.

“He plays to his strengths. He listens to people. He puts them at ease. I’m positive that he will eventually bring the country together.”

Fifa World Cup in South Africa

Zuma also made a point of dispelling international fears about the security in South Africa during the World Cup in June/ July.

“You will be safe if you come to South Africa” Zuma promised as spontaneous applause broke out.

Our reader said he had to agree.

“For the duration of the World Cup it will be the safest place on earth. The amount of police and security around will ensure people’s safety.

“Sure, if they want to go looking for drugs and prostitutes they may run into trouble but as long as they stay on the beaten track they’ll be fine.”

Zuma also announced a special visa dispensation for the estimated 450,000 ticket holders attending the tournament.

He said saying visas would be issued to people travelling from non-visa exempt countries, who are able to provide proof of purchase of a FIFA match ticket.

South Africa comes of age

Our reader said the World Cup was the biggest event in South Africa since the fall of apartheid.

“Everything that’s come before this has been has been us growing up as a nation. Now we’re becoming a fully-fledged country.

“The World Cup will show people that we are ready to grow up. It  will set South Africa up. People worry the stadiums will become white elephants once the tournament is over but we can hold the Olympics there one day, I’m sure.”

A new logo for South Africa

Zuma also used the opportunity to unveil a new logo for South Africa, to be used to promote the country internationally.

The new logo is designed to replace about 70 old logos that were used by the International Marketing

Council and South African Tourism to represent SA.

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