ANC crafts election answers

2013-11-24 10:01

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The controversy surrounding President Jacob Zuma’s sprawling Nkandla homestead looks set to haunt the ANC as it gears up for elections.

The party has crafted a dossier?–?a hymn sheet of sorts?–?for its campaigners, from ministers through to volunteers, which contains the answers to difficult questions voters might pose on the campaign trail.

One of the questions in the dossier, which the ANC calls “Speakers’ Notes” is “Why are you spending so much money on the president’s private house?”

The answer shifts the blame to the public works department which was in charge of the R208?million project.

“The president owns and paid for his rural homestead. State security services decide on safety measures and building is managed by public works.

“Because the area is very rural, accommodation for police, a surgery, source of power, water storage, helicopter landing pad, safety bunker, and so on, had to be built. Three independent investigations are being done to see if any contracts were corrupt or overcharged?–?(Auditor-General), (Special Investigating Unit) and the Public Protector,” it reads.

However, the SIU and AG have denied that they are investigating Nkandla.

ANC national spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said Zuma’s Nkandla residence had been included in the document as it was in the public domain and campaigners needed to have the same message during door-to-door campaigns.

“We must have answers on any given issue,” Mthembu said.

Party sources across the country say Nkandla is becoming a point of contention among prospective voters who are demanding an explanation from ANC volunteers.

An ANC source in Gauteng said voters were raising the matters when volunteers were canvassing for votes.

“We say it’s a problem (public works minister) Thulas (Nxesi) must answer. It comes up a lot in door-to-door (meetings) in the communities. He (Zuma) should be saying ‘We will refund the money and apologise’, not fight people with his ministers.”

Sources in KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial elections team said they were countering the criticism by saying that government had installed additional security upgrades and built houses on neighbouring communal land.

“This is less of an issue in the more traditional communities and with older people.

“It’s the youngsters from urban areas who are most critical and the minority communities.

“We are telling people that the work was for security only and that it wasn’t on the president’s land. Some people believe it, some don’t.

“In some communities, the spending just isn’t a problem because people have such strong support for him,” said a source.

Rank-and-file ANC sources in the Western Cape said while the issue of Nkandla was not discussed in branch meetings because people feared recriminations, prospective voters were asking tough questions about it.

It has become a hard sell for voters, said a Parklands ANC volunteer.

Atlantis branch secretary Patrick Solomons said Nkandla was not really coming up apart from when it was brought up by the opposition.

“The only issue that is coming up in relation to Nkandla is that prospective voters ask why the president has so many wives and so many houses (at Nkandla) while there is a shortage of houses in Atlantis,” Solomons said.

He said they were conducting workshops and training volunteers to prepare and equip them with information about how to respond to questions about Nkandla because this would be brought up by opposition parties.

In Limpopo and the Eastern Cape, voters are said not to be interested in Nkandla, they are more concerned about service delivery.

Eastern Cape ANC secretary Oscar Mabuyane said voters were “respectful” of the investigation into Nkandla.

“Although the matter has been topical in some quarters, the opposition has over-sensationalised (it) to get some mileage.”

Meanwhile, police minister Nathi Mthethwa has accused the media of “playing dumb” on Nkandla.

If they ask, tell them this ...

Why are there so many schools without basic facilities?

We spend billions on building new schools and upgrading existing ones.

We are closing and replacing hundreds of schools [100 just in Limpopo in the next year], but it will take years to fix all schools.

Textbooks and teachers come first in our spending?...

Why has job creation fallen below our targets?

The target we set in 2010 of 5 million jobs over 10 years needed to have a million jobs to be created every year between 2010 and 2020.

This has not happened so far as the world economy has not recovered from the global financial crisis....

How can the ANC allow men to marry men when the bible says it is unnatural and when it is taboo to our culture?

We support our Constitution which says that there may be no discrimination on the basis of sexual preference.

People are also free to follow the faith of their choice, but the government cannot take religious beliefs and impose (them) on everyone. There are also divergent views about what religion and culture say on this matter, and the government cannot rule on that.

Why must Gauteng pay for e-tolls?

Gauteng has hundreds of new 8-10 lane freeways built at a cost of about R20?billion. This is more than our national roads budget for one year. The roads are tolled to pay back the money we borrowed to build the freeways?...

–?Additional reporting by Sizwe sama Yende, Poloko Tau, West Cape News, Lubabalo Ngcukana, Paddy Harper and Xolani Mbanjwa

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