President Jacob Zuma’s presidential site visit to the Westonaria Agri-Park was on Tuesday described as unholy by a community leader from the nearby Bekkersdal township, Thabang Wesi.
Speaking to The Citizen, Wesi said they only knew about Zuma’s visit to the area in the early hours of Tuesday, through a loudspeaker.
“He comes to an event at a place which is just a few kilometres from the township and does not even have the manners to come and talk to local residents,” Wesi said.
Bekkersdal was in recent years marred by violent protests with residents demanding that local mayor Nonkolizo Tundzi step down, accusing her of corruption and nepotism among other things.
Protesters at the time also threatened not to take part in the 2014 general elections, but they later decided otherwise following the intervention of now Gauteng premier David Makhura and SA Communist Party (SACP) provincial secretary Jacob Mamabolo.
At Tuesday’s presidential visit to the Agri-Park, the Gauteng premier was represented by finance MEC Barbara Creecy.
According to Wesi, Zuma has never been to Bekkersdal since the protests, stressing that even if they were told months in advance about the President’s planned visit, they were not going to entertain him.
“It also appears that Zuma is trying to work on the nerves of the Gauteng ANC leadership who would have informed us earlier if they knew about the president’s planned site visit.
“Zuma was just here to make a political statement and take advantage of poor people … when did he start working night shift? We only heard through loud speakers in the wee hours of the morning that he was coming,” Wesi said.
At the visit Tuesday, Zuma received a warm welcome from locals, some of whom came from nearby areas such as Toekomsrus and Simunye.
Many ANC supporters were also dressed in party T-shirts with Zuma’s face on the front.
Before the president entered the marquee, the programme director told residents to shout the name Zuma 10 times as soon as he (president) walked in.
Some shouted and sang songs praising Zuma, while others sat down.