Hungry and waiting for the president

2013-10-25 10:09

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Government’s launch of a R2 billion programme to provide food security ended on a hungry note for many who waited almost the whole day for President Jacob Zuma to arrive.

“We are very hungry and very tired of waiting for him. Zuma came here to fetsa tlala (eradicate hunger), but he can’t do that. He just created more hunger instead,” said Grade 10 pupils Kentseleone Tanke and Tshepiso Mokause.

They were let out of school early – at 10am – to await Zuma’s arrival. Some people were waiting since 7am and were only given water until the event ended after 5pm.

The schoolchildren vowed instead to vote for Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, who is said to be popular, especially among iron ore and manganese mine workers in the area.

Zuma yesterday late afternoon addressed a crowd of more than 1 000 people in a massive white double marquee erected on a sports field in a community outside Kuruman following the launch of an agricultural cooperative in Manyeding, southeast of the Northern Cape town.

He arrived about six hours after the scheduled 9am start owing to a Cabinet meeting running late in Cape Town earlier in the morning.

While the livestock and chickens to be handed over to communities in Manyeding were waiting for his arrival, one of the cows gave birth to a calf while the caged hens lay several eggs.

A group of EFF members with red berets also waited at the agricultural project to see Zuma, but they were not spotted with their berets in the crowds once he arrived.

Zuma urged people to get involved in agriculture and plant vegetable gardens outside their houses to produce food.

“A citizen of this country, who is active, who is ready to work hard ... all nations that can look after themselves can produce food.

“We have people who are ready to work, ready to get up in the morning and produce food. A country that is lazy, they all endure a lot of poverty.

“Food does not walk towards you, you walk towards creating it,” he said to laughter and applause.

Zuma said the programme, called Fetsa Tlala (eradicate hunger), intended to take people back to producing their own food.

“There was a time in our history, not too long ago, when households had gardens and grew their own vegetables and fruit. They kept chickens and livestock,” he said.

Zuma said an accelerated agricultural production programme was launched in seven provinces last year. These are the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West.

This meant 135 000 hectares of underutilised agricultural land was put into production with maize and sugar beans, and government intends to do the same with another 1 million hectares.

Government will make R2 billion available for this programme for distribution to provinces.

ANC provincial chairperson and MEC John Block was called to the stage by Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson after he sat in a VIP chair in the audience.

She said she did it not as an ANC member, but as a minister to an MEC. An ANC rally to be addressed by Block on Sunday was later punted from the stage following the conclusion of formal proceedings.

Yellow T-shirts resembling ANC T-shirts with Zuma’s face printed on them next to a 20 years of democracy logo, with “Fetsa Tsala” printed on the back were distributed at the event.

Green overalls with the department of agriculture’s logo as well as “Fetsa Tsala” printed on them, and pairs of black work boots, were distributed at the event in Manyeding earlier in the day.

After the afternoon event, yellow T-shirts were distributed with Zuma’s face on top of a flag in ANC colours, with the words “We have a good story to tell” printed on the back with a 20 years of democracy government logo.

Not all were unhappy with yesterday’s launch. Tebogo Sethlodi and Letlhogonolo Kgaudi, both unemployed, said they would vote ANC.

Bearing lunch parcels with cooked food in a polystyrene container, salad and a fruit juice they got at the afternoon event, they said the food-security initiative was “a good initiative from the president”.

Two other women, who did not want to be named, said they were unhappy about not getting food, but would still vote for the ANC because the party introduced social grants, which they live from.

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