Zuma gives cattle and tractors to rural residents
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma endeared himself to rural communities in Eastern Cape when he delivered tractors and Nguni cattle in a move derided by his detractors as a political campaign to entrench himself.
Zuma went to Peddie yesterday morning and later arrived in a military chopper to Tanga Village in Butterworth where his Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative - of which he is chairman - gave agricultural aides to the rural farming community.
Masibambisane aides rural communities and coordinates assistance from the government and private businesses.
Zuma's visit was not part of government programme, as he runs Masibambisane in his private capacity. But the blurred lines between government and the private organisation have anti-Zuma forces accusing him of using state resources to try and build a base for himself in the province ahead of the Mangaung conference.
Zuma was accompanied by a number of cabinet ministers including Edna Molewa of water affairs, Thulas Nxesi of public works, Gugile Nkwinti of rural development and Eastern Cape premier Noxolo Kiviet.
An ANC national executive committee (NEC) member who chose to remain anonymous told Sowetan that the events were aimed at boosting Zuma's popularity levels in the ANC's second biggest province in terms of membership.
"Those tractors come from (the department of) agriculture, why do they have to be presented as part of his private organisation. Basically, the project makes the government seem as being incapable of delivering on its own. This is done to create a base for himself," the NEC member said.
But Zuma described his organisation as merely aiding rural communities to fast-track implementation of government programmes. "It meets the government half-way in the programmes that the government is committed to do. This quickens those kind of programmes. Whether you look at the national government, provincial or local government we are all partners. As well as business ... contributing a great deal to make the project work," he said.
While Zuma's enemies view his intervention as being more political than aiding communities, the beneficiaries of his generosity only had kind words for the president. A community member, Phila Gcasamba, told of their joy about Zuma's intervention and how it has changed their lives.
"Through this project, we have been able to benefit from the land. We are now able to fight poverty and make sure that the community is self-sustainable," he said.
Zuma visited the province in the same weekend that his support in the province seemed more shakier after the Nelson Mandela region elected a leadership seen to be hostile towards him.
Nceba Faku was re-elected unopposed as regional chairman after the left-leaning Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality mayor Zanoxolo Wayile declined his nomination, upon realising that the numbers were stacked against him.