CAPE TOWN, Mar 9 – Anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu warned world leaders on Wednesday to learn from the uprisings in north Africa, while cautioning that corruption will drag South Africa backwards.
"As we know people are in fact not fools. They notice things and one day they will explode," Tutu told an annual lecture in his name at the University of the Western Cape, where he has been chancellor since 1988.
"What is happening in north Africa is to remind governments everywhere that people are not fools. One day they will call rulers to account."
A frequent critic of South Africa\’s government both during and post apartheid, Tutu said President Jacob Zuma should have been cleared of long-standing corruption charges in court before taking office in 2009.
"I am very fond of President Zuma. He is affable and warm," he said.
"But I do believe, and I\’ve said so on previous occasions, it would have been better for him to have been pronounced innocent by a court of law weighing the evidence rather than through a dubious administrative act."
He also said the state should not fear a now-closed probe into an arms deal if it had nothing to fear.
"Our country with such tremendous potential is going to be dragged backwards and downwards by corruption which in some instances is quite blatant."
Tutu also queried the roll out of housing and services to poor areas which are regularly rocked by violent service protests.
"Why are we letting our towns and cities deteriorate with poor maintenance and services especially for the poor who are beginning to show their impatience and anger in nasty demonstrations," he said.
The 79-year-old announced his retirement from public life last year after decades of fighting apartheid and injustice around the world.