I wish I was a journalist and a columnist. I would educate people, President Jacob Zuma charged the listening audience. “He is leading a delegation of 17 ministers and deputy ministers at the World Economic Forum (Africa) in Durban, in a clear bid to resell South Africa’s battered image.

His lecture included an admonition that journalists “educate people about democracy”.

Asked whether he felt “rejected” after the widely reported booing, Zuma said: “Well, well, well. I have been hearing comments all over.

“The problem is that people have not understood how democracy works.

“You will agree with me that in the countries of dictators there is no protest, there is no booing. Protests, debates, booing is part of the culture of democracy. Unfortunately, people misunderstand that and misread it.”

He said that in a democracy people can engage heads of statel.

“That’s the culture of democracy. If I was one of you, I would write a column to educate people about democracy and say how South Africa is democratic.

“In a country where there is no democracy there will be an angry president charging the police to arrest people, but democracy says let the people express themselves.

“That’s why, in a democracy, governments are in place democratically and can be removed democratically with the vote.

“I don’t know what is it that makes people excited. Perhaps it’s newsworthy stuff, fine, but that is the culture of democracy. I’m very happy that South Africa is very matured and you have a president that they can talk to, whatever is on their minds.

“They are not going to be arrested and they are not going to be harassed. That is democracy. I wish I was a journalist and a columnist. I would educate people.”