President leaves 15 000 letters blowing in the wind

2010-02-17 08:54

TENS of thousands of letters addressed to President Jacob Zuma

asking him to prioritise the fight against crime, were dumped on the steps of

parliament after the presidency refused to accept them yesterday.

The letters were sent by South Africans in response to a call from

trade union Solidarity’s campaign to make crime a bigger priority.

Members of Solidarity, who traveled to Cape Town from Pretoria to

deliver 15 000 letters at Zuma’s response to criticism of the state of the

nation address, wheeled the packages of letters in wheelbarrows around

parliament grounds and up to the front doors of Tuynhuis, where they were told

by security to leave.

Solidarity deputy general secretary, Dirk Hermann, said a member of

the presidency had confirmed telephonically “several times” that the letters

would be received at parliament.

The parliamentarian who supposedly organized for the letters to be

delivered, who Hermann said was known only as Mavis, allegedly invited the group

to Tuynhuis to deliver the letters, but could not be reached once the group had

arrived with their load.

“This is a slap in the face of every South African who

democratically shared their feelings with the president, who has refused to

listen to the pain of these South Africans. We will drop the letters on the

steps of parliament and the question now is whether the president will collect

them or ignore them and let the feelings of South Africans blow away in the

wind,” said Hermann.

The anti-crime campaign was launched at the weekend in reaction to

last Thursday’s State of the Nation address, in which the president spoke for

less than a minute on the issue of crime. Solidarity aimed to gather a target of

10 000 letters from people affected by crime but as of yesterday 

morning 23 000 had come in, with more pouring in.

At one point the president’s

email, sent via www.dearpresident.co.za, received one email per second. The

contents of the letters ranged from people expressing their fear of crime in the

country to those expressing their pain and loss of being victims of crime

themselves.

“This confirms our original feeling that there is not enough

seriousness about crime if the president is not even prepared to listen to the

pain of these South Africans,” said Hermann, before he and two other Solidarity

members upended the contents of their wheelbarrows onto the parliament steps. He

said the group would return after the national address to see whether the

letters had been brought inside.

He said the rejection of the letters would not deter the campaign

and it would now be “intensified”, making use of various web media. “We have a

long road to walk,” he said.

Representatives of the presidency and parliament could not be

reached for comment.

– West Cape News


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