EMBATTLED President Jacob Zuma has used his official Freedom Day speech to castigate “anarchists” who protested violently and those divided the country and tried to sustain a racially skewed economy.
He said despite a lack of basis services such as water, housing and electricity in some communities, the ANC government had improved the lives of many people since the new dispensation in 1994.
Addressing a packed Giyani Stadium in Limpopo, Zuma also used the gathering to outline the achievements of his administration and urged South Africans not to allow their political differences to threaten the democracy for which they had fought hard.
“They feared that he might be booed again in Gauteng. You remember what happened at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service,” the official said.
The Presidency couldn’t be reached for comment.
The ceremony was attended by a host of cabinet ministers and senior government officials including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
It took place as religious leaders, political parties and civil society protested across four cities demanding Zuma’s resignation for having violated the constitution.
Protesters took to the streets in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Polokwane in Limpopo.
The president promised to work with the private sector to transform the economy and create more jobs.
”For freedom to be complete, the economy of our country must not be skewed along racial lines. We must give practical meaning to the demand of the Freedom Charter that “all shall share in the country’s wealth,” Zuma said.
“Government will continue to implement black economic empowerment programmes as well as affirmative action programmes. We have introduced new programmes such as the promotion of black participation in the manufacturing sector actively as industrialists.”
This came as various reports revealed that blacks were facing increasingly doomed economic prospects.
Stats SA’s report on the social profile of youth in SA showed that black and coloured youths were the most affected by unemployment and poverty.
Titled the Vulnerable Groups Series 1, the study was conducted between 2009 and 2014.
Zuma urged South Africans to refrain from actions that could threaten their hard-earned freedom, especially violent protests.
It was unacceptable for protesters to burn clinics, schools, libraries and trains while demanding other basic services, he added.
The president called on aggrieved South Africans to rather protest “peacefully and with dignity”.
“We should isolate all those who promote violence and anarchy. We know that some within our communities believe such violence will make them popular and try to use anarchy to build their political careers. Let us not allow this to happen in our name,” he said.
Zuma lambasted opposition leaders for allegedly allowing political differences with him to divide the nation and for bad-mouthing the country abroad.
“There are those who have decided to make it their full-time job to deny these achievements of our country, and to rubbish our country locally and abroad. We must not allow them to succeed.”
Zuma promised to address the crippling water shortage in Limpopo’s Mopani region, which included Giyani.
The district has seen residents sharing water with animals and taps running dry despite a contractor being paid R500 million to provide water.
Despite residents complaining about lack of water, Zuma said the building of the Giyani Wastewater Treatment Works and the refurbishment of the Giyani Wastewater Treatment Plant had been completed.
“Some of the milestones in the project to date include the revitalising of 154 boreholes with package plants to ensure the water becomes fit for human consumption. Furthermore, there is the construction of a thirty five mega litres’ reservoir that will be completed in June 2017,” he added.
Mthethwa used the occasion to blast those who are demanding Zuma’s resignation.
“The people today…who get defeated at the ballot ballots and want to take shorts of votes of no confidence are not going to succeed. Siyaquba. We will continue. All of them must thank the ANC and the constitution that today they are able they are able to march and express their views,” Mthethwa said.