‘Stop this, or you’re out’

2009-07-27 00:00

“PEOPLE are going to start hating me because we are going to act,” a relaxed and confident looking President Jacob Zuma told the citizens of KwaZulu-Natal over the weekend.

Zuma’s visit to the province comes against a backdrop of growing service delivery protests and worker strikes. He assured communities that his government will act decisively against corruption and non delivery of services. At the same time he asked that his administration, which is barely three months old, be given a chance to prove itself.

Talking to a packed ANC “Siyabonga” (thank you) rally in Mpumalanga, near Hammarsdale, he said: “We are warning now that for those who are corrupt, who have their fingers in the jar, stop this or you are out. People are going to start hating me, because we are going to act.”

Zuma added that there was no place in his government for lazy and corrupt people and that the performance of councillors was being closely monitored in the run up to the 2011 local government elections.

The president said he was sympathetic to the frustrations of communities living in poor conditions. However, he warned that communities will lose his support if protests are accompanied by violence.

He also added that protesters need to be careful that their actions do not result in a situation where government is so busy dealing with upheaval that it is not able to deliver.

On the wave of labour strikes, Zuma, speaking at a Durban Chamber of Business dinner on Saturday night urged both labour and employers to negotiate in good faith. He asked them to try and finalise discussions speedily and amicably so that all sectors can get back to work.

Zuma said the reconfiguration of government departments and the creation of a National Planning Commission are aimed at improving service delivery and dealing with the recession. “We want to ensure that we do things differently. If we did not learn from the past 15 years, then we would not differ from other countries on the continent. This reconfiguration is aimed at solving past problems,” he said.

The president had a heavy schedule on his KZN visit. According to reports, he was to have spent Friday night at the 30th birthday party of the daughter of his close friend, businessman Vivian Reddy. However, he forsook the party to attend to family matters. Zuma was up early on Saturday and his first official visit was to the Moses Mabhida Stadium. He said many heads of state, including U.S. President Barack Obama, were impressed with South Africa’s preparations for the soccer world cup.

Next stop was the Siyabonga rally, where he thanked voters for an overwhelming victory in the elections. To show his gratitude, he sang mshini wami to the delight of the crowds who rose up and joined him. The crowds were thrilled when the president danced to the ANC election song, “Mina ngizoMala nginje, mina ngizohla ngiyiANC”, showing that he has not lost his ability to boogie.

Zuma spent the afternoon with leaders of the Shembe Church and the evening at the Durban Chamber dinner. Yesterday he visited Umlazi.

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