Maharaj: Pityana’s ‘insults’ unfounded

2012-09-26 00:00

FORMER Unisa vice-chancellor Barney Pityana had stooped “way below dignified public discourse and intellectual engagement” in remarks he made while delivering a lecture in Grahamstown on Monday, the Presidency said yesterday.

Delivering the annual Neil Aggett Memorial Lecture at Kingswood College, Pityana warned that there would be “continued chaos, extending inequality, burgeoning unemployment, poverty and the social evils that have become characteristics of much of our society” should South Africans continue to endorse the current leadership.

“Government is in no hurry to deal with these matters. Instead it is reported public resources are being manipulated to enrich the few and to build a monument to Jacob Zuma’s presidency by establishing a new town on Zuma’s doorstep in Nkandla.

“And through it all this nation is fast asleep,” Pityana said.

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj spoke out strongly in a statement yesterday against some of the comments attributed to Pityana.

He said that “disagreements are welcomed in a democratic society, but should take place within the bounds of common human decency, without promoting a culture of hurling insults”.

It was not true that the government was building a new town in Nkandla. The village — the home of President Jacob Zuma — was one of 23 districts identified by the government for intervention due to deep levels of poverty.

“We wish to emphasise that no government funds have been committed specifically to the Nkandla Mlalazi Smart Growth initiative,” Maharaj said.

“On other matters raised, we expect Dr Pityana to know that allegations do not mean people are guilty, and even more so in the case of the rape accusations, as the president was acquitted in a court of law.”

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Pityana said he would not respond to the Presidency statement.

“The statement I made speaks for itself. It expresses total disappointment in the ANC government. Obviously the Presidency is entitled to its opinion,” he said.

•  Neil Aggett was a trade unionist who died while detained by the apartheid government in the 1980s.

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