Hands off Zuma! say PMB fans

2014-10-01 00:00

“HANDS off Zuma!”

That was the message from the hundreds of people who turned up for the Presidential Imbizo in the capital yesterday.

Zuma and his cabinet descended on the DUT Indumiso campus in Imbali.

The crowds who packed two large marquees and a grandstand waited for more than four hours for the president, who arrived in the province on Monday.

The event had been scheduled for 9 am.

Soon after he spoke shortly after 3 pm, some of the crowds started leaving while the question and answer session with the president was still continuing. Members of the crowd who spoke to The Witness were unfazed by the controversies raging around the president, saying he was fit to hold office.

Others warned the opposition to lay off the president, saying there was nothing untoward about the spending at his Nkandla estate.

Jika Ndlovu said EFF leader Julius Malema’s behaviour was unacceptable. “Hands off Zuma,” he said.

“He said he used his money to build his Nkandla home and I believe him. Malema always lambasts Zuma, but the president never retaliates. Opposition parties must back off,” he said.

Smangele Gasa said Zuma should not pay back the money that was used at Nkandla.

“As the president, he deserves tight security. Malema and the DA are jealous of him. The manner in which Malema carries himself is disgusting. He must learn to respect other people.”

Zuma came to Pietermaritzburg bearing gifts. He gave out school bursaries to the young and blankets and fruit baskets to the elderly, and even promised to renovate one family’s home.

His day started with a visit to three family homes that had been selected beforehand. Two of the families are headed by children and the other belongs to an elderly woman who lives alone.

He gave a young man, Sphamandla Maphumulo, a bursary through his education trust after he learned of his plight.

Maphumulo is studying, trying to work and look after his three younger siblings.

“… I asked him what he wanted to study and he told me he wanted to be a chartered accountant and I have taken a decision that my foundation will pay for his education,” Zuma said.

Zuma visited another child-headed household where the family are being evicted by a former councillor who allegedly bought the house from their uncle.

Zuma promised to “sort out” the title deed and renovate the house for the children.

In honour of the Day for the Elderly today, Zuma also gave out gifts to women aged over 100.

The event was tightly managed. Those who wanted to ask questions were asked to register, “to avoid repetition”. Some in the crowd objected and began leaving when they heard they had to register before asking their questions.

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