When 21-year-old Bongokuhle Miya sent a Facebook message to President Jacob Zuma bemoaning the state of his hometown, uMzimkhulu, little did he expect that such a move would culminate in the president visiting the area, as happened on Tuesday.
Zuma, accompanied by a delegation of no fewer than seven cabinet ministers, descended on the southern KZN town on Tuesday to personally inspect the developments that are under way in the area and to listen to other grievances from members of the public.
Speaking during his monitoring visit, dubbed Siyahlola presidential monitoring programme, Zuma described Miya’s actions as heroic, saying that the government would always respond to cries from the public.
He encouraged other South Africans to be vocal about their frustrations on service delivery, saying the government would respond swiftly.
Zuma said progress was now visible in uMzimkhulu.
“In the past I would have had to slow down while driving here because of the potholes, but now I can feel the difference,” he said adding that a lot of work still had to be done.
Miya said he was happy with the development taking place in uMzimkhulu, but added that it was long overdue.
He said a lot still had to be done, citing his village of Mfulamhle, which was still without running water.
The president had earlier paid a visit to some government projects and taken a brief stroll in the town, which had been cleaned ahead of his visit.
One of the residents would later complain to the president that delivery was slow in the town and that things had only improved on the day because Zuma was there.
“The speed of service delivery is just 20 kilometres an hour but when you (the president) is here it is done at 100 kilometres an hour.”
Premier Zweli Mkhize said the province had spent over R8 billion on developing uMzimkhulu and surrounding areas since these were inherited from the Eastern Cape.
Mkhize said the lion’s share of this allocation had been spent on replacing mud schools with more formal structures in the district. According to Mkhize, about 95 percent of the mud schools in the province were in this district.
One of the former mud schools, Mlozana Junior Secondary School, where new blocks were built, was officially opened on Tuesday by Zuma.
Mkhize said that the provincial government had spent millions on rehabilitating the sewerage and water works in the district and the roads.
“While we agree that there is still a long way to go, it is pleasing to note that there is progress.”
Mkhize said he hoped that the ministers who accompanied the president on his visit were going to extend support to the province to ensure that it continued to be developed.
Ministers who were part of Zuma’s entourage included Collins Chabane, Siyabonga Cwele (State Security), Edna Molewa (Water and environmental Affairs), Dipuo Peters (Energy), Richard Baloyi (Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs), Mildred Olifant (Labour), and Bathabile Dlamini (Social development).