'A good heart keeps you young' - Zuma
President Jacob Zuma is nice to his enemies and that is why he can celebrate his 70th birthday as a healthy and “energised” man, he says
“People ask me what do I do to remain young. It is a simple thing. You need a good heart, you must not hate people,” he told reporters and the staff at the African National Congress’s headquarters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg on Thursday.
“You just need to be nice, even when something bad happens. You must wish your enemies good luck... then you will live until 70.”
Luthuli House echoed on Thursday afternoon to the strains of the song “Happy Birthday”, which was sung to Zuma by staff.
Several bottles of sparkling wine were opened and Zuma cut a large black, green and gold cake in the shape of the number 70.
Surrounding the president were several ANC national executive members, including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.
Zuma thanked the Luthuli House staff for attending the event.
“There is no headquarters more important than this in the whole country,” he said.
Zuma also thanked the media, chuckling and adding: “Our friends, the media. You make things happen. Life would be dull without you”.
He said the Bible mentioned the age of 70 as an important one.
“What is important is that at 70 is that I feel energised. I... have travelled a long distance, but I still want to make a difference.”
Zuma said he was old enough to write a book, but promised that it would not be aimed at “grandchildren”.
He also teased Motlanthe about his age.
“When I started, many of these people were young. They were so young that I used to give them sweets,” he joked. “Even the DP [deputy president] had pitch black hair.”
Motlanthe later raised his arms and said a prayer for Zuma. “Here is your servant — continue to shower blessings on him,” he prayed.
Earlier, the ANC Women’s League said Zuma’s birthday was a milestone that South Africans should be proud of.
“Not many can boast a track record of selfless service to the struggle and to the country as the president can.”
He also received “proud” wishes from the ANC in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.
“We are proud of the contribution comrade Zuma made during the painful liberation struggle, which saw him being separated from his family for years,” provincial ANC spokesman Sihle Zikalala said.