‘English to blame for residents booing Zuma’

2014-04-20 15:00

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English is to blame for the booing and heckling of President Jacob Zuma in Malamulele, Limpopo.

This is according to the Malamulele Demarcation Task Team, which says angry residents didn’t clearly understand Zuma’s message on Wednesday because most are Shangaan speaking and he addressed them in English.

Now, in a bid to change people’s perceptions, the task team has promised to communicate Zuma’s message more clearly.

Task team member Noel Manganyi said they were hoping even those who have decided against voting on May 7 will change their minds once they understand Zuma’s message.

Malamulele residents are demanding their own municipality, saying this will improve service delivery. The area currently falls under the Thulamela Local Municipality in the Vhembe region.

It’s been the site of fiery and violent protests. In just one week last year, about R40 million worth of damage was done by angry residents.

Residents have also threatened to boycott the May 7 elections because they feel ANC officials have ignored their pleas.

On Wednesday, Zuma told residents at Malamulele Stadium that he’d had a chance to hear their grievances about Thulamela and did not see why the issue couldn’t be resolved.

Some residents reacted furiously to his statements, ­booing and shouting at him. Many left before Zuma finished his speech and took to the streets, where several vehicles were pelted with stones and roads barricaded.

Zuma left the area under heavy police guard.

Manganyi said Malamulele was calm again and the task team’s members had understood Zuma’s message far better than most residents.

“The president was saying he now has a different understanding after coming to Malamulele. He’s satisfied with our presentation and has made a commitment to look into our matter and thus gave us hope,” he said.

Language is not the only issue contributing to tensions in Malamulele; ethnicity plays a role, too.

Most Malamulele residents are Shangaan speakers, while Thulamela is based in Thohoyandou, a Venda- speaking area. Community leaders insist ethnicity and tribal lines are not to blame.

But ordinary residents claim only Venda people get jobs with the municipality – and this means only Venda- dominated areas get good service delivery.

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