Durban – The official opening of the Spring Grove Dam, near Rosetta, by President Jacob Zuma was used as an opportunity to canvass for votes, although he told the crowd in Zulu he was not there to campaign.
“Right now I’m talking to you as the government. At the right time I will return to you to look for something (a vote). If you don’t give me that (vote) there will be trouble,” he said, laughing.
Construction of the dam, which will supply water to a vast part of the province, started two years ago.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu also insisted that the event had nothing to do with elections, but he could not help pointing out: “We started this project in 2011 even before it was known that there will be elections in 2014, but we will accept your votes.”
The president has had a busy time recently criss-crossing the country opening government projects.
He opened the Grootvlei power station plant in Mpumalanga in September and, earlier this month, was in Port Elizabeth where he opened a Transnet engineering project.
He told the crowd that in the past weeks he had delivered bridges, new roads, dams, renovated schools and hospitals, airports and a new harbour.
He also said the government had given KwaZulu-Natal four buses which had been converted into mobile clinics.
He is due to return to the province soon to open dams in Ntambanane and Mkhanyakude.
“And, next month, I will be opening De Hoop Dam in Limpopo,” he said.
Zuma gave his address in a huge marquee packed with people, who were mostly dressed in ANC T-shirts bearing his profile.
Five million people are expected to benefit from the dam which will pump water to the uMgungundlovu District, eThekwini, Ilembe, Sisonke and Ugu.
The president called on residents to protect it “jealously” and apprehend people who vandalised it.
“If we protect this dam the government will do more things for you. South Africa remains one of the 30 driest countries in the world.
“We have the National Development Plan, which states what our country should look like in 2030.
“It says all households should have clean water supply by 2030,” he said.
He said since 1994 the ANC government had brought electricity to the “deepest” rural areas, which had been marginalised by the apartheid government.
“Even rural areas now have electricity. Even Nkandla has electricity. I know that some people complain when Nkandla gets electricity. When I was a young man I would carry a torch when I went looking for girls at night, but all that has now changed,” he said.
The DA’s and IFP’s provincial caucus leaders were outraged by the ANC’s usie of the event to solicit votes, saying this was “typical of the ruling party”.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable for the ANC to use government functions, funded by taxpayers’ money, as an electioneering opportunity for the ruling party,” said Sizwe Mchunu. “It’s tantamount to nothing but the abuse of state resources.”
“It’s a provincial and national ploy by the ANC… If they are as formidable a party as they claim to be, they should campaign fairly – like all the other parties,” he said.
The IFP’s Blessed Gwala said: “What do you expect when even the president exploits government functions and turns them into a political function to campaign for elections for his party?”
Political analyst Protas Madlala said he was not surprised.
“That’s politicians for you, that’s their game. Any chance they get (to canvass), they use it,” he said. “They don’t care if it’s a funeral or whatsoever.”
He added that even opposition parties were known to campaign on such platforms.
Additional reporting by Sihle Manda
Article source: http://www.thepost.co.za/zuma-opens-spring-grove-dam-1.1609653