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Updated: February 12, 2010 22:06 IST

Zuma hails role of Indians

PTI
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South African president Jacob Zuma waves as he arrives for the opening of parliament in Cape Town on Thursday. Photo: AP.
South African president Jacob Zuma waves as he arrives for the opening of parliament in Cape Town on Thursday. Photo: AP.

South African President Jacob Zuma has acknowledged the key role the Indian community has played in the country’s progress and in consolidating its democracy.

In his State of the Nation address at the opening of Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday , Mr. Zuma also praised anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela on the 20th anniversary of his historic release from jail.

Addressing the nation live on television and radio, Mr. Zuma also applauded the role of the Indian community. “In November this year, we will mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in South Africa,” said Mr. Zuma.

“It provides an opportunity to recognise the important contribution of the Indian community in the fields of labour, business, science, sport, religion, arts and culture in the achievement and consolidation of our democracy,” he said.

He extended condolences to the people of quake-stricken Haiti and praised South African-Indian doctor Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of “Gift of the Givers” which was the first rescue team to reach the Caribbean nation.

“I would like to especially recognise [Sooliman] one South African who never fails to assist in times of disaster and helps us to promote a vision of a caring society,” he said.

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