Charity trust director upset after Zuma steals his thunder

2016-06-09 08:49
(Erin Bates, News24)

(Erin Bates, News24)

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Johannesburg – It took five years and almost R3.5m worth of renovations by the Super Shongwe Memorial and Charity Trust to help the Kingdom Life Children's home.

But they say it took President Jacob Zuma and Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini just one day to overshadow their work.

On Wednesday, Zuma and Dlamini visited and officially opened a media centre at the Kingdom Life child care in Atteridgeville as part of Children's Day celebrations. 

The media was present as Zuma cut the ribbon and unveiled the media centre in what was dubbed the official opening. 

But the director of the trust, Ndhlabole Shongwe said he was upset by how his hard work was overshadowed by Zuma's visit. 

"I did not want anything to do with the visit of the president until I was persuaded. We were struggling on our own. Nobody was helping us. Now that the building was finished, they are coming," he told News24.

Shongwe said the department of Social Development tried to take control of their work when they made a request for Zuma to officially open the media centre. 

In honour of late father

"We said you can't. We have already opened the place... It was actually misleading... the building was already unveiled the previous week," he said.

Shongwe, who opened the trust in honour of his late father's community work nine years ago, said he was disheartened when Zuma's "people" blocked him from addressing him. 

"I had prepared a speech to explain to the president what was done. Then his security and people said the president is late and no one was allowed to speak to the president.

"Even some of the guys I work with were very cross and issued out a statement that said this is not a project of Social Development, this is a project of Super Shongwe Trust. The only thing that government did, was two days before the president came, the City of Tshwane put in free WiFi. That's all they did," he said.

Several NPOs in Atteridgeville have benefited from the trust through donations and renovations.

"I started this foundation in memory of my father. He used to work for charity. I wanted to create a trust in his name to continue with the same values."

Shongwe said they decided to do something about Kingdom Life children's home after seeing the poor conditions the children lived under. 

R1.2m government grant

"We bought food and clothes for children for two years and we became more involved. We started raising funds from the corporate sector. We approached various companies who came with financial contribution. Some of them said they are going to give us skills," he said.

He added the trust's ultimate mission was to upgrade the home to ensure it was child-friendly.

"We wanted to upgrade the place. We took out illegal connections, upgraded the bathrooms and every child has got a work place and their own study desk."

Shongwe then reached out to businesses and built a new media centre furnished with new computer work stations and study areas. Shongwe said they were now reaching out to people for book donations. 

When contacted for comment, the Presidency referred News24 to the social development department.

Social development spokesperson Lumka Oliphant said only government could officially open the centre and not the Super Shongwe Trust. She said social development gives the home a R1.2m annual grant. 

"They can't open the children's home officially when it’s supported by government. We invest R1.2 million to the centre. The land which the centre stands on was donated by the city... If they were talking to us they should address that to us. They are doing a service for government as an NPO. We have given them a partial compliance as an NPO."

Shongwe conceded that the department provides a R1.2m annual grant, but said that the money for the renovations and the media centre came from his trust.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  tshwane

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