No happy Siyathemba return for Zuma

2010-05-23 14:44

President Jacob Zuma did not ­receive a warm welcome as he

­returned to a rowdy Siyathemba community in

­Balfour Mpumalanga yesterday.

Zuma, who was accompanied by cabinet ministers and provincial MECs,

addressed the residents at the local stadium, promising that he would follow up

on service delivery promises by his ministers.

Public works minister Geoff Doidge, social development minister

Edna Molewa, deputy human settlements minister Zoliswa Kota-Fredericks,

education MEC Regina Mhaule and ­cooperative governance MEC Norman Mokoena all

outlined their programmes of action.

But the residents didn’t agree with some of the ministers.

When Kota-Fredericks said 454 houses would be built in the

municipality, the crowd shouted, “Ziphi!” (Where are they?). The minister said

240 houses had been completed with another 214 still outstanding.

Doidge said government had 33 properties in the municipality,

including farms, and would have to buy two more farms to build houses on them.

In reaction to the community’s main demand that the area be

­reincorporated into Gauteng, ­Zuma said: “All problems with cross-border towns

are being dealt with.”

Mokoena said he had handed the re-demarcation request to

cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Sicelo Shiceka.

“We have struck an agreement with the Gauteng government to allow

the residents to be admitted at the nearest hospital in ­Heidelberg and all

hospitals in Gauteng,” he said.

The residents had waited for more than three hours for Zuma and his

delegation who had been in a meeting with municipal ­officials.

Some residents – carrying posters saying “Aids is better than

Mpumalanga” and “The devil is better than Mpumalanga” – threatened to resume

­protests if their ­demands were not met.

However, Zuma was not pleased, and he lashed out at the community

for the posters, ­describing them as offensive.

“Some of your banners are a disgrace. I don’t see why you have to

use offensive language to get your point across,” he said.

On the stadium grandstand, rowdy youth carrying African National

Congress, South African Communist Party and Pan African Congress banners kept

interrupting the brief proceedings, which lasted for just more than an hour.

One resident was told off by Zuma: “Don’t ask me a question boy,

government can’t promise something in the morning and fix it by afternoon.”

But the crowd would not relent, and Zuma berated them for

interrupting him and his ministers. “It means you will continue living in

poverty, (if you don’t want to listen),” he said.

However, the crowd continued heckling him.

Zuma promised tough action against ministers who did not

­deliver.

 

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