Durban - Residents of Nxamalala say they have had enough of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and the media harassing President Jacob Zuma over his rural homestead.
On Thursday, the ANC in ward 14, which includes Zuma’s home, led them in a march to demand that the justice system protect the president.
Local councillor Sbongiseni Bhengu said residents were tired of opening newspapers and seeing negative stories about Zuma and his homestead, on which more than R200 million was spent.
He said the residents also want Madonsela to release the report on her Nkandla investigation so that “the matter can be dealt with once and for all and Zuma can be allowed peace of mind”.
Bhengu said the memorandum was handed to local Inkosi Bhekumuzi Zuma, who is Zuma’s relative.
“Inkosi, who shares the same sentiments, will then make means to pass the memorandum to the higher authorities,” said Bhengu.
The march took place as Zuma was preparing a Christmas party for local elderly people today and another one for children on Sunday.
He said residents were “more than happy” about the upgrading of Zuma’s home.
“This homestead is not even at the standard it should be as the home of the head of state. It is thatched and looks like a normal modern rural homestead.
“This home should look far better than this,” said Bhengu.
He said former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki had their share of controversies, but their reputations were not damaged.
“During Mandela’s tenure there was a scandal over the R200 million given to Mbongeni Ngema to fund his Sarafina! 2 Aids project.
“And the DA flew over Mbeki’s house following questions about the cost of its upgrading,” Bhengu noted.
He said local residents had met Zuma on several occasions to get clarity over the construction of his house.
“Although our interaction with him has always been brief because he’s always a busy person, he gave us a clear indication that he was not aware of and had nothing to do with the money spent on this house.
“It should be clear that to us that how much was spent on that house does not matter. The only thing that matters is that the president is safe and his house is at the standard of the head of state,” Bhengu said.
He said residents were also happy about the level of local development.
“We have electricity, and the tar road we are marching on right now is a sign of progress in this community. Most people have access to piped water, although there are still a few families fetching water from rivers.
“The only development that has not happened in this area are the houses. But there are 67 houses that will soon be built in ward 14. About 1 000 other houses will be built in the nearby Magwaza area.
“We only hear that people are not happy about development in Nkandla, but those people remain faceless and possibly are not from Nkandla,” said Bhengu.
Khulani Hadebe, spokesman for the ANC’s Musa Dladla region, which includes Nkandla, said Zuma deserved to have his homestead upgraded.
“His house was burnt down about three times in 1992. The region is participating in the march because since 2005 Zuma has been the subject of harassment.
“He never lived in peace,” said Hadebe.
Zuma’s brother, Michael Zuma, said the family had nothing to do with the march.