'Tell me if I do wrong things'

2009-06-06 18:23

Nkandla - President Jacob Zuma on Saturday promised not to forget the plight of the poor, urging people to tell him when he went wrong during his presidency.

"I will not change even if I live in big houses. You must tell me if I do wrong things and criticise me if you are not happy with what I do," he said.

Zuma was speaking during a massive party in Nkandla, his rural village, attended by more than 20 000 people. The Nxamalala clan in Nkandla was celebrating Zuma's ascendancy to the highest office in the land.

The president's homestead is just a stone's throw away from the Ntolwana Primary School where the party was held.

Ministers, tycoons, soccer administrators and Zuma's three wives were among dignitaries who attended the party that has been dubbed the "mother of all parties" by the organisers.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, Orlando Pirates boss Irvin Khoza, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Community Liaison Bheki Cele were among dignitaries who sat with Zuma on stage. Mining tycoon Patrice Matsepe was also present.

'I will not disappoint you'

Addressing thousands of people who filled two 20 000 capacity tents, Zuma thanked the organisers of the party and promised to remain the same Zuma they knew before he became president.

"I will still sing Umshini wam (bring back my machine gun)," he said.

Umshini wam, African National Congress (ANC) old liberation song, became Zuma's trade mark song after Zuma was fired as deputy president by former President Thabo Mbeki in 2005.

Zuma said that when he grew up, he did not know that he would become president.

"I was given different tasks in the movement but I did not know that I would be given such a big task. I will not disappoint you," he said.

Zuma also told people how difficult it was when he grew up and when he missed the opportunity to attend school.

"I urge you to be united and to have humility. You must ensure that you excel in what ever task that has been given to you."

Among people who were involved in preparing the party was KwaZulu-Natal tycoon and Zuma ally, Mabheleni Ntuli said two tents were erected.

He said each tent accommodated more than their capacities of 20 000.

Another tent was used for dinning and the other as a VIP lounge where Zuma and other dignitaries lounged before the start of the party.

The party started just after 12:00 and was expected to finish very late.

Showered with gifts

The organisers said they slaughtered 19 cows to feed people. It was earlier stated that 25 cows would be slaughtered. The slaughtering was monitored by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) on Friday and on Saturday morning.

Zuma was showered with different gifts and four cows during the party.

Two of them were from Zapu, a liberation movement from Zimbabwe which combined with the Patriotic Front to form the Zanu-PF.

Zuma thanked the party for helping the ANC during the liberation struggle.

People were entertained by renowned artists such as Ihhashi Elimhlophe and Phuzekhemisi.