Zuma: Let's develop ourselves

Pretoria - Residents of the historically neglected rural area of Winterveld, north-west of Pretoria, were elated when President Jacob Zuma visited the area on Wednesday to launch a solar water heating system.

A total of 270 households were already enjoying the benefits of this system, which government was expecting would be rolled out to about a million homes by 2014.

"If we do nothing to develop ourselves then we will never be a developed country...the very point of empowerment is education," Zuma told hundreds of residents inside a huge white tent set up for him and his entourage.

The solar system will reduce the water heating load on the national grid.

The president emphasised how important it was for South Africa to empower its people and get rid of poverty.

Poverty

He spoke of poverty in its broader sense, saying it was lack of education, electricity, employment and water.

"Those things need to be dealt with...but government cannot do it alone like people think. We must all participate and change our lives."

With just four years remaining before South Africa celebrates 20 years of freedom, Zuma said it would be difficult to say "we are what we are because of apartheid".

"We took energy for granted and things changed drastically," he said referring to the recent countrywide power outages.

He spoke of his hometown Nkandla where people's only source of light at night was candle.

This state of affairs, he said, pushed government to act and launch a cost effective and environmentally friendly energy system to better the lives of people.

Cutting costs

Government departments, correctional services hospitals and schools would also by the end of the year make use of the solar water heating system.

An unemployed father of two, Austin Maluleke, who shares his two-room home with his wife and children, was one of 27 people who benefitted.

In just two days, he was able to bath with hot water from the geyser instead of from his kettle, thus saving money.

"It has really changed our lives, we don't waste electricity anymore and we don't run out of electricity like we used to before the solar water heating system was installed last November," said Maluleke.

Tshwane getting 10 400 solar geysers

He complained to Zuma, who visited his home, that job opportunities were scarce.

"We are trying to address that problem," said Zuma.

"I'd probably be dead when a job opportunity arises," retorted Maluleke, to which Zuma said he should never lose hope.

"You are still a young man."

Zuma was accompanied on his tour of Winterveld by Tshwane Mayor Gwen Ramokgopa, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and Energy Minister Dipuo Peters.

About 10 400 solar water heaters are to be installed in Tshwane this year.

"This is a system with many benefits," he said, urging all South Africans to convert to solar power as the electricity tariff will continue to increase over the years.


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